I am awoken by yet another massage—Swedish, this time. Strange. Thursdays are usually shiatsu, and since my private driver has been sent before I’ve even had a chance to call my mom, this is Strike Two.
12:30 PM, reads the Faberge Egg clock the CFO gifted me for having such a good PSAT score. It’s not much of a clock. Hell of an egg, though.
“That’ll be all, girl,” I say to the anonymous hands kneading the soles of my feet.
“I’m an adult man,” mutters a voice. But I’m already out the door. As I often tell the rotating cast of professional mixologists hired to reheat the cappuccinos I forget to drink, a company is like a wheel: I could explain how it works, but I don’t really want to. And why would I do something I don’t want to do? I’m an intern!
When I get to work, it's time for lunch. But somewhere between my twentieth and twenty-first sashimi, I am disrupted by a barrage of compliments on the bold yet tasteful blouse my mom bought me.
“You've got gumption, kid,” observes the CEO.
“But also professionalism?” I ask.
“Exactly,” she says, and we “cheers” with two sodas she fetched us from the office fridge. The sodas are ice-cold, meaning that whoever is restocking the fridge is clearly removing all the cans each time to place the new, still-warm ones in the back and the old, now-cool ones in the front. But this is not something that I register. As an intern, the office fridge is not something I have ever devoted any fraction of my brainpower to.
After lunch, I go for a digestive stroll along the grounds, discovering various locales with strange names along the way: Inventory Storage. Printing Room. Who knows when I’ll next find myself in here? So I grab some merch to gift my parents and jury-rig the printer to produce spontaneous copies of their lease agreement, unread eBooks, and complete medical histories. (This is something you can do to a printer if you’re good with Netscape.)
As I turn the corner, Jennifer Aniston, who has just declined a major endorsement deal with the company, points to my blouse pocket.
“Are those raw almonds that your mom mailed you because they're healthier than most office snacks?” she breathes.
“What of it, Jen?” I respond, annoyed at how long this interaction is taking. Jennifer Aniston bites her lip, visibly moved, and decides to become the face of the company after all.
“Your blouse is bold yet tastefu–” she shouts after me; but something else has caught my eye. A rival CEO is telling my boss that he's going to “buy the whole freakin’ dump”—typical office verbiage. Replaying my dad’s words of advice, I corner the rival CEO, give him a firm handshake, and say, “My biggest weakness? I care too much.” Eyes brimming with tears, the rival CEO mumbles something about this town being “big enough, on second thought, for the both of us” before fleeing.
To reward me, the CFO and CEO carry me on their shoulders and parade me around the office while everyone chants the internship program's motto in unison: No Working Until Everyone Calls Their Mom.
As my Uber home is summoned, I practice cartwheels in the office hallway and reflect on my day. Will the other interns feel envious of me? I try to picture their reactions, when I suddenly notice that I can't visualize any of their faces. Huh. That must be because they exist in the plural, not singular, form. For instance, the CEO, CFO, and myself are clearly three people. By contrast, the four other interns in my cohort are, for all I know, eleven other interns, or one intern holding three goldfish in a plastic bag.
When I finally get home at 2 PM, I have only one wish: to call my parents. Chatting with them is a welcome distraction from all my problems: Will I need to lie and say I helped with “various office tasks” to avoid overcrowding my resume? And what about money? $15,000 an hour may not be much, but I’ll be damned if I don’t get something small for Mom and Dad. Perhaps two lifetime subscriptions to the e-commerce technology I am colloquially known as the “father of” at work, despite it having been created a decade before my conception?
Before I can tell my parents all about it, they ask about my day.
“We heard Jennifer Aniston signed a big deal with you guys! Did you get to meet her?” Oh, right; the “whole company” is really excited about that, I note with humility.
“And did you have any role in preventing the acquisition? We read on Yahoo Finance that it was a really close call.” I euphemistically say that I “got to sit in” on some of the talks, hoping they won’t call my bluff.
“And have you talked to the CEO yet?” they ask me. Now this is the last straw. I can't hold it in any longer. “The CEO?” I laugh. “Guys, I’m literally an intern.”
My parents chuckle, and affectionately warn me not to forget about the little guy.
“I won’t,” I say wistfully, thinking of my friend Sophia, who is a child laborer working in a mine.
On second thought, the unlimited vacation policy and Michelin meal vouchers keep her pretty cheerful, too.