The intern is an enigma. Of course we knew that from the training. But the actual arrival is different.
I asked Abbott.
“Where does the intern sit?”
“The position isn’t floating, it’s fixed.”
“That’s not what Kendall says.”
“Kendall is an asshole.”
“Is that what you’re going to tell the intern on their first day, that Kendall is an asshole?”
“It’s good intel,” I said. If I was an intern, I’d appreciate knowing it.
The intern came to the meeting with a pad and pen. No one knew what that was about. Maybe it only appeared to be a pen. From a hotel room. Appeared to be paper. We sent Montgomery to ask. Montgomery is the lowest link. They walked up and down the hall, talking.
I waited, around the corner.
“What did he say, Montgomery?”
“The intern. About the paper.”
“I’m pretty sure the intern is a girl.”
“What do you mean, pretty sure?”
“The intern is a girl.”
“So paper, pens, is a girl thing?”
Gibiet-Nomack walked by and snorted.
Our company thrives on information. Information is better than gold or food. People followed the intern, spiritually, physically, medially. Some wanted to know if the intern was going to Burning Man.
Or I did.
“Then, where? Where is the intern going? Not that I care. But for the encrypted newsletter.”
“What the hell?”
“Largest population of Seventh Day Adventists in the world.”
I went to see Bergman.
“Montgomery isn’t becoming a thing now, is he? We should never have sent him to talk to the intern.”
Since the intern has no salary, I wonder how they live. I dream a dream where the intern sleeps in two ergonomic chairs. Later, I dream I float past the intern, sitting on an empty stoop, eating huge spoonfuls of garbage. I wake up weeping, a thing I used to do as a child. At work I corner Abbott.
“What have you seen them eat?”
“Don’t be a jerk.” I tell Abbott the dream. I learned long ago that only by being completely honest can I avoid producing the shame that attracts bullies.
“Seriously? I think that intern eats very expensive, vegan food most days.”
“Why would food stripped of elements be more expensive when philosophies of negative capability suggests it should be less?”
“That’s like asking why a muscle shirt isn’t cheaper than one with sleeves.”
According to office legend, this is how we two landed the Hamilton account and paved the way for the IPO.
People say they are over the intern. It’s crap. No one gets over the intern. Not on my watch.
The way the intern climbs stairs. The way the intern washes a broken pair of sunglasses. The way the intern dresses in snow. The scent of the intern, leaving the executive suite. How the intern has affected us. How the days before the intern wink and fade, then return in the morning, like stars.
I am in line getting coffee and when I look up from my phone, I am face to face with the intern. How many days and nights this moment brings to mind? Of course I am speechless but, it turns out, the intern is not. The intern is super chatty. On and on. The line is getting held up. The intern is fatuous, inventive, and quite mean-spirited. Finally, I break in. I have to do it, because only by being completely honest, etc.
“Oh, I’m not an intern anymore. I got hired.”
I buy the intern’s … former intern’s … coffee. They slyly change their order to include more espresso than an Italian revolutionary congress. At that moment a whole dimension in me opens that creates the safe space for bullies to live. Petals of the flower part. I take the first step on the thousand-fold journey.
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