Now gather round children, it’s high times ye heard,
Bout an intern named Jester, on whom life took a turd,
His labors may shock you, they may even appal,
But know that I felt their effects worst of all.
So sit back and enjoy, you can laugh at my pain,
I just hope that it never ever happens again.
Okay, I’ll stop with the epic poetry now. I was never good at playing the lute anyway.
This summer, I am interning at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, a pretty big newspaper here in the 'Burgh. This makes me happy. It’s an academic program for which I don’t get payed, but that’s okay, cause I really just want the experience. No, really. I don’t need money. Really. <sigh>
Anyway, the program goes for 6 weeks, during which I get rotated around three of the departments at the paper. My first two weeks were spent in Editorial, which is admittedly in its own little world, seperate from the rest of the newsroom. Still, I enjoyed it, and even got a few editorials published. Which I didn’t get payed for. But that’s okay, really.
Today was my first day at a new post, so to speak. I’m now at Cityside, which covers all of the local news. In other words, I’m now at a part of the paper that does actual reporting. Huzzah.
Within 15 minutes of arriving at Cityside and meeting my advisor, I got my first assignment. It was to be the assignment from the 9th circle of Hell. And not the nice part, with the snack bar. I’m talking about the really sleazy part, where people who make Lifetime Original Movies go.
“Hey, do you have a driver’s liscence?” Asks my supervisor. “Yeah,” I reply, as is the fashion of the times. “Good,” he says. “Take this key, go take one of the staff cars, and cover this press conference at Mercy Hospital.” With that, he turns around, and continues work on his article, leaving me stuttering in front of him. My mind had many questions to ask at that moment, including “What’s the press conference about?” and “How the Hell do I cover a press conference?” However, they all tried to force their way out of my mouth at once, causing me to emit a high-pitched burst of air that sounded suspiciously like a squeak.
The editor looked up from his article and examined me for a minute. “Oh, this is your first time doing one of these, right?” Relieved that he was going to share a bit more wisdom with me, I nodded. “Okay,” he said. “Good luck. Remember to take a notebook. The press conference starts in 15 minutes.” He handed me the press release for the conference. Once again, he turned back to his article.
Not wanting to push my luck, I walked down to the lobby and out the door, clutching the release and the key to the staff car in one hand and my notebook in the other. As I got out into the street, though, I realized that I had no idea where the car was parked. All I knew from the tag on the keychain was that it was a silver Plymouth Breeze, liscence plate DRG-4010. Across the street, there was a parking garage. Okay, I thought. There’s nowhere else to park around here but in that garage. I’ll look there. Confidently, I went across the street and into the garage.
Looking around at the hundreds of cars in the garage, I realized that finding a silver Plymouth Breeze I had never seen before might be a bit harder than I’d anticipated. Still, I hurridly ran down each line of cars, looking for my vehicle.
There are a lot of silver Plymouth Breezes in downtown Pittsburgh. This is a fact that I learned over the course of the next 15 minutes, which were spent sprinting from row to row. However, I also learned that there are NOT a lot of silver Plymouth Breezes with DRG-4010 liscence plates. And there are NO silver Breezes with that liscence parked in the garage that I spent those 15 minutes running through.
Defeated, I ran out of the garage and back into the lobby, flustered and really pissed because the very first assignment I ever got was starting and I wasn’t at it. Flashing an apologetic look at the guard in the lobby, I politely asked where the staff cars were parked.
“Oh, you didn’t know?” she asked. “No,” I replied. “I’m new here.”
“Well, hon, that’s easy. All you have to do is go the lot behind the building. They’re all out there.”
“The lot behind the building?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she replied, then went back to watching whatever game show was playing on her little TV.
It was a somber walk to the lot behind the building, I can tell you that. Here I was, 10 minutes late for my first press conference ever, all because I had gone to the wrong fucking lot.
Now that I was in the lot I was supposed to be in, I found my car within a minute.
However, it was blocked in by another car that God had put there, just to spite me. Taking his time, the lot attendant moved it out of my way, and I almost crashed it in my hurry to back out and get moving.
Pulling up to the gate, I reached into the glove compartment for the lease card that I had been assured would be there. It wasn’t. A quick, frantic search through the rest of the car showed that there was, in fact, no lease card in the vehicle.
At this point, I yelled what may be the longest, loudest, most drawn out stream of expletives of my life.
After I had thus relieved myself, I turned back to the open window, looking for the attendant.
He had, of course, been standing right outside the open window the entire time. He now had a very worried, patronizing look on his face.
“I’ll…I’ll just let you out,” he sayed, trying to hold back a giggle.
Completely humiliated, I shot a quick apology at him, then sped off to Mercy Hospital. At this point, it was 10:20, and I had a good 10 minute drive ahead of me.
I got there, found a spot, and sprinted to the hospital. Zooming around the corriders, I made the distance from the entrance of the hospital to the boardroom in a time that would’ve made Michal Johnson jealous.
Triumphantly, I walked into the board room among the rest of the reporters, and sat down. At this moment, I felt better than I have in a long time. Here I was, in a press conference, independent, doing what the real journalists do. I was doing what I have wanted to do for years: real, honest to God reporting.
I opened up my notebook, ready to write down any important happenings that came my way, and looked up expectantly.
“Thank you for your time,” said the speaker at the podium to the gathered reporters (and me). “I hope this conference has been very helpful.”
As people stood up and began clearing out, I sat shocked in my seat. I had finally made it to the press conference, only to find that it was rude enough to be over when I got there. The shame.
The drive back was not fun. The attendant at the staff lot gave me a pity look as I drove in, and I flashed my best attempt at a smile at him. It probably looked more like a grimace.
I now sit at my desk, assigned to write my first ever article on my first ever press conference. My only sources are the written summaries of the conference which I was handed as I walked in.
I will, of course, not get paid for my efforts. But that’s okay. Really.