This Week in the Mercury


Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Sweet Sorrows of a Portland Mercury Intern

Posted by Kevin "the Intern" Otzenberger on Thu, Nov 25, 2010 at 9:52 AM

For the past three months, I have been an editorial intern at the Portland Mercury. Yesterday was my last day. "So, what was it like?" you ask. Well, let me answer that question with a question. Have you ever woken up inside of a living animal before? No? Then read on...

There were a few consistent daily themes at the Mercury. I got there, argued with the other interns about which desk was mine, lost, and then sat down to work at my laptop in the break room. After several minutes, I would feel a strange presence in the room with me, and after inspecting all of the pictures on the walls to make sure Wm.™ Steven Humphrey wasn't watching me through their cut-out eye holes, I would settle back into my seat and breath a sigh of relief. Then that sinking abysmal feeling would come racing back as soon as I looked down and saw this Goddamn thing staring at me from like a foot away.

What did you expect, intern? No supervision?
  • What did you expect, intern? ...No supervision?

Olive, the official Mercury pug that really belongs to Ezra Ace Caraeff, is the kind of dog that sort of lets you pet her. Then, once you've proven yourself, she takes advantage of it. She takes it all for granted. And when you're too busy to pay attention to her, she stares. And when she stares, it looks exactly like this. For hours.

So that pretty much set the tone for each morning. The rest of the experience was all about writing insensitive blog posts and videotaping Tea Baggers, along with a few special moments I documented along the way:

Thursday, Aug. 26 (late afternoon)

Marissa Sullivan and I are quietly working in the break room when Wm.™ Steven Humphrey comes in and attempts to untangle his bicycle from a canvas-backed director's chair in the corner. In his frustration, he yanks the front wheel free, then proceeds to curb stomp the perfectly good piece of furniture until it is severely damaged. That's when he abruptly exits without saying a word.

Thursday, Sept. 23 (Noon)

Unable to pay for takeout with my weekly salary of Stumptown coffee beans, I bring a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to work, along with a fruit cup, granola bar, soda and some Cheetos. When I open my embarrassing lunch box and take out my middle-school recess snack of a lunch, Wm.™ Steven Humphrey brings the situation to everyone's attention.

“This is what interns eat. Look at it, everyone. Look at it.”

Wednesday, Oct. 20 (Late afternoon)

In an effort to flip off both interns simultaneously, Wm.™ Steven Humphrey forgets to use one hand to guide his bicycle through the office, causing it to crash into a pillar and interrupt his otherwise seamless exit line of "See you bitches later!" Marissa and I both watch quietly as Steve picks up the bike and wrestles it through the doorway with his eyes fixed on the ground.

Tuesday, Nov. 9 (Late morning)

Ned Lannamann hands me an 8-inch-deep pile (a pile, not a stack) of scrap paper and instructs me to sort out any sheets I find that only have text on one side, to be re-used in the copier. It's not more than five minutes into the process of sorting it one sheet at a time that I realize if I was in prison, I could at least be making license plates.

Tuesday, Nov. 9 (Mid afternoon)

Wm.™ Steven Humphrey posts a poll to Blogtown asking readers to vote on who should have to clean the dirty pie pan in the break room. One of the options is to make the intern do it. I didn't even get any pie.

(Last time I checked, I was winning this election by 33 percent of the 270 votes. That pan is starting to look gross.)

Tuesday, Nov. 23 (Noon)

As I am in the process of heating up a disappointing bowl of Spaghettios, Wm.™ Steven Humphrey warns me not to "fill up on that," since there will be free burritos arriving in 30 minutes. A half-hour later, I notice several people in the office eating burritos. But there are none to be found in the break room. I ask Steve, and he tells me to go check the upstairs break room. By the time I arrive, it appears Laughing Planet has brought exactly enough burritos for everyone except me.

So I eat some fucking celery.


Good luck, newbies.

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