Long gone are the days of pulpy summer reading. Frantic students are gearing up for the hot days of summer, finals are being taken, credit cards are being maxed out, and that palpable, yet inevitable, “oh shit what the fuck am I going to do for money?” question looms above the hung-over and hazy eyed masses.
You look for work because everyone around you seems to have landed that “dream summer job” – the kind that even has a Facebook icon image to show everyone that it’s legit – but all you seem to find are shitty unpaid internships. You disregard the stern warnings from your labor economics professor. You take it.
Despite your better judgment that “this will all pay off in the end,” you cannot help but feel bamboozled. You feel this terrible gnawing in your meat gut that pulsates and bitches at you for contributing to the American Apparellization of modern day industry. You look at your boss and all you see is Dov’s face coaxing you into modeling in more ads for no money until your demand increases. “Push your ass out more!” “Look to the Left.” You oblige.
You race to work and rip your slacks in the crotch area because that fucking bus driver always drives past you when you run to stop him. You wait thirty minutes for the next one (which means you’ll only be ten minutes early, translation: five minutes late). Something smells fishy in the stale air of that cramped bus. You look around.
You realize it’s not the gray-haired adjunct professor sitting next to you eating a fish fillet from the dollar menu. You realize it’s not the single mother’s hair net drenched in Aquanette on her way to work at Dunkin’ Donuts. You realize the smell is coming from the armpits of a guy that looks way too dressed up. You notice a BU pin on his tie. You Smile.
He tells you he’s headed to (insert formidable nonprofit name). The same place you work! Oh god, is he going to try and go in with me? He follows you off the bus and into the office asking you what you did last night. You think about lying and saying you went out to a pub but think, “why am I trying to impress this guy anyway?”
When you’re broke, it’s too expensive to go out, so you tell him just that. He holds the door open for you and points to your collar. You look down and see a huge chunk of last night’s canned tuna on your collar. What.The.Actual.Fuck. You realize it was you that smelled like fish on the bus. Shit. It is now you that looks varnished in a thick layer of sweat from a day in the rat race and it’s not even 8am.
You clean yourself off, join the rest of the overwrought, unpaid interns in the office, and douse your puffy, pillow face with your special brew. It consists of strong black coffee (to crack you out) mixed with merlot (Charles Shaw obvi) and topped off with slices of apples (to clean your teeth). This is your breakfast and your lunch.
You feel like you’re at the bottom of the career ladder struggling to grab hold of a rung to pull yourself up, but the only thing guaranteed at the end of this internship is a piece of paper. Your boss is sure to sign off on a letter of recommendation with hastily written “praises” on a cheap piece of paper that has a fancy masthead (and to think, the value of these keeps going up while the value of our paper dollar goes down). You’ll stare real hard at the letter of rec at the end of summer, telling yourself it is a one hundred dollar bill. You hope.
Your coworker sees you stare blankly at the computer screen. She nudges you and says, “Hey, this’ll get better. None of us are getting paid either.” You want to like her. Your really do. But…she told you how much money her parents have as she asked you to pose with her in the front lobby on your first day so she could Instagram the two of you #SummerLooks. You look at her and take a sip of your brew. You smile. You keep smiling.