From the time I started touring colleges during that summer between junior and senior years of high school, and all through my freshman year, I was told over and over how important it was that I get an internship during the summer breaks. I needed "real world" "hands on" experience. And I was told that I needed to apply early because everyone would compete for all the good positions. And I understood what they meant, I really did. I just didn't feel like applying until late, late April.
What I ended up with was a position in the marketing department of a local radio station. I did not have any interest working in radio nor in marketing, so clearly this internship was just perfect for me. Oh, and the station was one of those Top 40 formats. I learned this means they literally have 40 songs that they play. I spent the summer drowning in Eminem and "Lady Marmalade." But I'm getting way ahead of myself here.
The first few times I reported for duty I "shadowed" the marketing director. This meant sitting next to her while she typed emails and talked to her boyfriend on the phone. And while I liked my appointed mentor as a person, she was not such a super leader, or teacher, or delegator of responsibility. Often, I would sit in her office for hours while she went to meetings or went to lunch or forgot I was there and took a half day. During these times, I would stare at this one No Doubt poster hanging in there and peruse the stacks of throwaway crappy CDs --she said I could take any I wanted. I wanted zero of them. Oh, and remember that Peanut Butter Jelly Time song with the dancing banana? Apparently that was an actual song made by two rapper kids that are like Kris Kross for the new millennium.
Anyway, my supervisor kept assuring me that things would pick up once the summer really started and then I would go on location.
So June hit and I got to be an official member of the Street Crew. This meant that I was outfitted in a t-shirt with the station's hideous logo (available in XXL only and dug out of the storage closet) and sat in the back of a van with the other interns, while one of the part-time employees drove us to various awesome, exciting locations, where I would stand in the smothering humidity and summer heat, handing out bumper stickers to people who could give a flying fuck.
Oh, and in case you didn't know, when you listen to the radio and you hear a DJ say he's live on location, this doesn't mean that somewhere there is a set up with turn tables and giant speakers. It means that there is a foldy table with a boombox playing Top 40 hits at a reasonable volume, and that the DJ shows up for 15 minutes, just long enough to call in from his cellphone and say "Hey everyone, we're hanging out at the grand opening of the new Cingular Wireless store..."
Some of my on-location moments:
- Inside a custom car detailing store, sitting in the corner, being glared at by various "tough guys" and "gangstas."
- By the check out aisles of P&C supermarket on a Tuesday afternoon, where we were surprised to find very few members of our target audience of 14 year old girls.
- Outside of a cell phone store, where we competed for attention with another table --girl scouts, selling not only their signature cookies, but also HOT DOGS.
- Sitting by the side of the road --we'd forgotten the foldy table that day-- handing out bumper stickers at the entrance to Balloon Fest.
- At the finish line of a 10k charity race, attempting to get the attention of any runners who may want to head for the free bumper sticker table instead of the free water and protein bar table.
-In the dairy aisle of a small family grocery store. Actual line from the DJ during his call in "Hey come check us out, we're right by the butter."
- A donut eating contest, during which one contestant vomited all over the floor.
And then there was the time we went to the grand opening of a piercing place/smoke shop. All day long I manned the stupid foldy table, right between the bong display and Tool t-shirts, congratulating myself on outgrowing the alternative phase in 10th grade. Eventually the DJ for the day strolled in. This guy was a total douche, but sort of in a lovable way. He was like 40 but acted 20 and had a serious case of big-fish-in-small-pond complex.
He'd never really communicated with me the whole summer, so I was intrigued when he told me he needed me to come help him with something. So he leads me to the back of the store, where a man is sitting in a chair with his pants around his ankles, and a woman I presume to be his girlfriend is leaning against the wall. In the corner, a store employee has his back to me. The DJ says, "I need you to watch this for me. I can't look and I have to give a prize to most outrageous piercing." I look at the man in the chair, then at his penis, then at his girlfriend who narrows her eyes at me, and then at the employee at the table just as he turns around, holding the biggest fucking needle I've ever seen in my life.
"K thanks," says the DJ as he darts off.
So I stood there, my face frozen in a pained expression, watching this astonishingly calm man. "Do you mind that I'm here watching you?" I ask him.
"I'm not paying much attention to anything else right now" he says, gesturing towards his penis, giant fucking needle half-way through. Ah, point taken.
About 4 minutes later, they let me go home.
Oh, and btw, there was no Most Outrageous Piercing contest.