As a light bulb arrives when a cartoon character gets an idea, so too did a glowing middle finger rise past my collar and over my head as I typed. My target: adulthood at large. I hit ‘send,’ hopped into my sapphire Camry, popped a cigarette in a child’s mouth and growled, “I’m the guy your parents warned you about,” before speeding off into the suburbs.
I was no adult. I would never be an adult. I was motherf—king Peter Pan.
These were the thoughts that ran through my head as I wrote an article for Elite Daily titled, “8 Signs You’re the Worst Intern And Absolutely Will Not Get Hired.” Two days after its publication, I was fired. As it turns out, the only benefit of being “motherf—king Peter Pan” is a lot of unsolicited free time.
My life stories often portray me as so irredeemably stupid that they become precautionary tales. When I tell people of this stint, most are surprised that I could have imagined an alternative ending. Did I think Elite Daily was just going to hire me because of one humor piece that spoke to millennials with the same irreverence as their callous hearts? Yes, quite frankly. Yes I did.
The article received 168 shares — or, if you round numbers with respect to the Internet, a crisp zero. Apparently my white-collar grumblings weren’t as relatable as I had imagined. Out of a job and any substantial validation, the situation seemed more and more like an absolute detriment to my life and career. Why had I so violently pursued the job I wanted at the expense of the job I had? Were I an aspiring musician, I wouldn’t have run around the office impaling my coworkers with a flute. That wouldn’t have gotten me anywhere musically.
I winced several times re-reading the article. The jokes are decent but the sass boils over into awkward contempt. Reviewing my past work, I feel like a parent watching his son bomb at a slam poetry competition. One of my coworkers even commented at the bottom:
Most of my friends consider this to be the most uncomfortable part of the story and they are correct.
If none of this has dissuaded you from libeling your employer — aren’t you a rebel? — great. But just keep it to yourself. Litter an aggressive letter with F-bombs and ignorance — maybe even some misdirected personal stuff about your ex — and never send it anywhere. People have used rage-writing since the Renaissance, when artisans would angrily scrawl profanity into parchment only to set it aflame. Even if someone actually sent the letter, he had about two weeks to chase down the postman’s horse and forcibly repossess his roast before it made it to the Medici’s. The internet, however, is made up of billions of immortal horses that cannot be tripped.
Everyone gets frustrated by work, but not everyone is dumb enough to turn his irritation into a professional swan song. Just me and Justine Sacco.
I found catharsis in writing, but I neglected to consider my supervisor’s discomfort upon reading. If the roles were reversed, I would’ve fired me too. Had I realized that an intern’s brassy article was directed at my workplace, I would’ve stabbed him with a flute and used his blood to fill out the HR-report.
My company never stabbed me, but that’s only because they didn’t even have the time: They fired me via email. To their credit, I was in Canada with my family and international phone calls are expensive. The message summed up to: “We know you’re on vacation and we would love it if you could just keep that up.”
During a distracted hike through the mountains surrounding Lake Louise, I finally summoned the nerve to call them. I had prepared a speech that would simultaneously apologize for and explain the article’s attempt at entertainment. As no joke has ever been made funnier by explanation, the plan was flawed from the start. Still, I would stay the course. I walked down to the stream and called my once-supervisor. When I asked about the grounds for my termination, she replied with one word: overstaffing.
“Overstaffing,” I repeated with a pause. “Are you sure?”
“We just have too many interns and not enough work. In your contract it’s stated that we can terminate your employment at any time,” she explained.
I thanked her and hung up, crestfallen. Now no one would hear my speech.
While my sources tell me that it was because of the article — of course — my supervisor wasn’t completely dishonest. They were sincerely overstaffed and, if nothing else, my article helped streamline their layoffs. It’s explicit company policy to drop the intern who disclosed his unproductivity right before fleeing to another country.
I considered lying to my parents so as not to taint the vacation, but the guilt became unbearable. As a precaution, I delayed the news until we were in a crowded, well-lit restaurant. Had I told my parents in the wild, my only witness would have been the silent stare of a marmot.
Like the phone call, I had for no reason prepared for doom; they were very understanding and even if we had been in the woods I doubt they would’ve killed me. In my free time I even started writing for College Magazine, but I’m not about to end an article on a note about silver-linings.
There’s obviously a lot to be learned from this article: Everyone has access to the internet, Canada is beautiful you should go, etc., etc. But all you need is this: Don’t be dumb, kids. And keep that resentment bottled up until you retire.