The man was dressed casually for the office in a white shirt and jeans. He had a bushy ginger beard and a paunch. “Hey New Face,” he said.
I stuck out my hand. “Hi, I’m Lorna. It’s nice to meet you.”
This was the third week of my internship at Harbor History Museum. So far, everything was moving along nicely—transportation reimbursement (check), grant edits (check), sunny day (check). My stammer was under control and I hadn’t told any bad jokes yet. It turned out that the man was a volunteer working to help restore the Shenandoah, a 1925 fishing vessel donated to the museum in 2000. When another intern asked how he could help, he said: “Grab a hammer.”
Not all my days at the office were like this. At the beginning I was nervous. I was, after all, a “new face.” There were times when my voice would go up an octave and I’d have to force the words out my throat like the last squeeze of toothpaste. I am slowly working to conquer this with a smile and my favorite pair of gray heeled boots. It works better some days than others.
This morning, I started my day at the office twenty-five minutes late. It turns out that I hadn’t turned the ignition far forward enough. At first, I thought it was the transmission stuck in reverse. I only found out it was the ignition after my second call to Zipcar customer service. In the meantime, I was stuck halfway out in the parking lot with my emergency flashers on. I got to practice my hand gesture for: “Yeah, you should go the other way.” If any of you are wondering, it’s a really awkward mix between a wave and a point. As long as you hold your hand out limply and look panicked enough, you’ll be fine. The best part was, when I finally got the office, I discovered my boss was late too.
My mistake didn’t matter because we both got there at the same time. In my English 497 class we read an article called “How to Be a Perfect Intern.” There’s no such thing. The new guy is never perfect. And as an intern, you’re not only new to the job; you’re new to the industry. You don’t know where the office pens are and you make way too much noise trying to close the filing cabinets. That’s the way it is.
I would, however, remember to check the ignition.