I’m disappointed with things in my life. Not in like a 45-year-old kind of way, but there’s some things that just didn’t go as planned: I’m not a knowledgeable car guy, I never won a spelling bee, I still don’t know what to do with broken glass. These shortcomings sting (or bleed when mishandled), but the biggest disappointment I’ve suffered in my time on Earth has been my experience as an intern. I’ve done it twice prior to this, and it’s been disgustingly pleasant.
Growing up, every reference to being an “intern” I ever encountered suggested that the arrangement was similar to that of indentured servitude. You were supposed to work tirelessly, scrounging for mere minutes of sleep every night. People at work called you “new guy” before giving you wedgies and asking you to copy stuff. When you got the big boss’s coffee order wrong, he poured it on your face and yelled words you couldn’t repeat at school. Coffee was important, you weren’t. What’s more, you put yourself through all of this torture for months, or even years, just for a slim shot at the sliver of a hope that it might lead to something decent.
When I interned as a 20-year-old, I got to make yogurt in a food plant all summer. I lived in a comfortable college campus apartment and headed to work each morning whenever I felt like it. The liberty was unsettling. I got my own lab coat with my name on it. My supervisor called me “Danny” and took me out to lunch sometimes. My hourly pay was twice that of any job I had done previously. I said “hi” to coworkers and smiled at people during meetings.
Where was the aggression? Where was the disdain? I wanted to feel like Anne Hathaway’s character in “The Devil Wears Prada”! (Side note: I feel like Anne Hathaway the actress most of the time. It’s so-so.)
The next summer I worked for no pay and had to drive to distant locations to perform manual labor. The landscape was ripe for indignation. But instead, sadly, my employers treated me as a competent peer. I was “the new guy,” but that meant I didn’t have any baggage. I could learn. In an abhorrent display I began playing recreational softball with these people and going to bars with them on the weekends. We were practically friends!
I come to The Social Robot now as a man-boy deprived of authentic life experience. I’m running out of intern eligibility. Pretty soon I’ll be a full-fledged person. I want to be ready. I want another adult to hurt my feelings. I turn now, to the one place I’m certain I can get this satisfaction: the Internet.
I’m an intern, and you will treat me with disrespect.