Welcome to Intern Horrors, the weekly feature filled with tales of being at the bottom of the totem pole, looking way up or cursing the indentured servants that save you money. Today: mascots behaving badly, office chair shenanigans and more. Sic alert!
I spent a summer working for a certain MLB team as an intern. I'd lucked into this through a family connection, but when I arrived it wasn't all peaches. Tough hours, little respect, a huge comute - I was 17 and at the bottom of the totem pole. The one area I did luck out was with what sounded like the best in-game job available: Mascot's Assistant. From 5pm til an hour after game time, I was responsible for getting the Mascot to and from every in-game appearance, making sure drunk rednecks didn't start punching the mascot and generally assisting with anything from t-shirts to radioing ahead to get security ready for the mascot to get on the field.
Overall, a great experience. Our locker room/changing room was halfway up the staircase from the visitors clubhouse to their locker room. I became friends with some players, helped in practical jokes on players, got tips for just looking like I was somehow helping them... it was all kinda surreal. Surely the highlight was getting table-topped by the Mascot and a certain multi-MVP award winner. Getting laughed at for five minutes by one of the best players in the game and a large furry thing is a memory I'll tell my children about.
It was all great until my last day. It just so happened that my last day was also the mascot's "birthday" and to celebrate, all the mascots in the state were invited (except the other baseball team). In all, four other mascots showed up, each with a varying degree of an obvious hangovers and all generally huge assholes. I needn't get into it, but the aforementioned responsibilities of protecting and assisting a mascot were quite trying. While getting sucker punched by a drunk fan every few weeks was rewarded by having the authority to boot people, most of the active time of the job was quelling mini-disasters and sprinting in loafers.
Suffice to say, I was not happy when my request for additional hands to cover 5 mascots were met with laughs. Everything was smooth in the pre-game: autographs for kids, photo opps, a nice pre-game presentation. I'd given up on keeping an eye on 5 mascots going in different directions, instead guessing which situations would be trouble. Follow three mascots as they go out into the crowd to have fun with fans early in the game or go with two to a children's play area? The answer seemed obvious enough.
In the 3rd inning my radio starts blowing up with screaming more like a Vietnam movie than a day at the ballpark. It was mostly muffled but I could make out my name, "fucking" and "trashed the suite." I sprinted to the luxury box in question, a popcorn and hotdog war zone. Mustard and ketchup on the walls, trampled chips, crying children and two of my superiors screaming. Oh, and no mascots in sight. "Find them, stop them" was all I could make out over the "fucks" "shits" and "you're lucky it's your last day."
The 4th inning was a scheduled break and I sprinted back to the mascot staging area (an unused conference room, as the normal locker room was smaller than most players' lockers). There I told the two offending mascots of the trouble as they hammed it up, passed a bottle of whiskey back and forth - met only with laughs and shit talking by the five of them.
Before heading out for the 5th, I spied one of the mascots putting together the pieces of a motorized scooter. Knowing stadium policy pretty well by now, I told the mascot it wouldn't fly here, we'd been told multiple times that motorized transport for mascots, let alone anyone, was a no-no. More cussing and a bit of pushing, I went to zip up another mascot and before I could turn back the scooter and mascot were off.
What followed can only be described as a Benny Hill chase, from our area to the far reaches of the center field concourse, back through the food courts. To any attendee, it would appear that a 'crazed man in loafers and a button down shirt was chasing after another team's mascot yelling "Get off that fucking thing now!" Every security guard we passed yelled for him to stop, none gave chase.
Around our second time passing the food court I was out of breath, my voice was going but the mascot seemed fueled only by pissing me and everyone off. Fans were literally ducking out of the way every 100 feet, I saw food fly, radio calls of complaints rang in my ear, it was awful.
Like every stadium, a number of police officers roam the grounds, keeping an eye on things and such - in this stadium they happened to mostly be retired Sheriffs. One such Sheriff, known for being a rule stickler, saw the mascot coming and having had enough, jumped in front of the path of the scooter, held out his arm in the stop motion and yelled "Halt now!" The mascot had other ideas and punched the officer in the face, while going full speed on the scooter, knocking him to the ground, breaking his glasses and making his nose bloody.
Still scared of the damage still to be done, I stopped briefly, picked up the officer, said sorry and sprinted off to find the mascot. For whatever reason, he finally stopped at the mascot staging area, went inside with me, breathless, right after him, screaming about how he just punched a cop and how he and I were both fucked. The other mascots loved it.
A police officer trying to locate a large fuzzy blue thing isn't that hard and in about 20 minutes in stormed about 20 officers, who immediately took the offending mascot into another room, headless but still with his suit on. The commanding officer knew me as the assistant and literally hauled me out into the hall, down to the security offices and into a kind of questioning area more often seen on The Wire than a baseball stadium.
"Did you know he was going to punch a police officer?" "Did you encourage him to ride the scooter?" "Why did he punch the officer?" It went on in circles for at least half an hour. Finally, enough "Seriously, I don't even want to be doing this right now, I have no help and there could be more shit going on out there right now" got me out of the room.
The mascot was cited for something minor (I heard his defense was how hard it is to see out of one of those heads) and I rather sourly went about the rest of my afternoon. I was stopped by every superior, co-worker and fan who recognized me and ripped into, told what a piece of shit I was countless times, told I might be arrested after the game and spat on by one cop.
At the end of the game, beaten, tired, hoarse and humiliated, I received a goodbye tip from my mascot boss, a twenty from three of the mascots plus a ton of useless mascot-related apparel.
The scooter-riding mascot pulled me aside, grabbed me by the collar, said I was a worthless piece of shit who got him into trouble, spat in my face while speaking about something about alimony payments and said those infamous words, "You'll never work in this business again." Which was perfectly fine by me.
I have many stories of horror and mind-numbing boredom from the 18 months I spent trying to 'make it' in the glamorous world of television, but my favourite is probably the Cinema Experience.
I was about 22 and got some unpaid work with a film production company in London. To this day, seven years on, I have only heard of one short film these guys ever actually produced, but when you're desperate you take what you can get.
On my first day, in a tiny messy office above a sex shop in Soho, the director did nothing other than ask me to tell him all about my time at university and then send me to get his lunch.
On my second day, he had me meet him at a disused cinema he was planning to buy. It was pretty much derelict, mould everywhere, no lighting, but he saw potential. Him: "about how many people do you think this place could seat?" Me: "Oooh, I don't know, about 250?" Him: "no, I asked you how many people this place seats?" He then handed me a torch and told me to call him when I'm done counting.
On my third day I didn't show up to 'work'.
The most embarrassing thing is I actually did count those seats. In the dark.
Interning at a commercial production company in Los Angeles at the tender age of nineteen, I was thrilled to experience the Hollywood industry first-hand. Of course, my five-days-a-week, 8am-7pm, no-pay internship would naturally pay off with invaluable experience. However, despite the promise of assisting a director on-set, it gradually became obvious that these people were indeed taking advantage of me. Even after the director apprenticeship was awarded to the company president's niece and even after I had been told that I'd "never achieve success in the industry" for misplacing my boss's side salad in the 30-person lunch order, I still believed I was getting something out of my summertime spent in unpaid labor. It wasn't until the Day of Tap Shoes that I realized that I had thrown away a whole summer's worth of easy-pay work at my hometown video store and lazy beach days with friends for absolutely nothing.
One day in July, my boss called me into her office and told me to drive to Burbank during rush hour to pick up tap shoes for her son. I did what she asked with a strained smile. I drove for two hours in traffic, deep into the smoggy depths of San Fernando Valley, walked into a dance shop filled with little girls in leotards, and proceeded to argue with the clerk over a discount pair of tap shoes that weren't actually on discount like my boss had presumed; the shoe-size was also half a size larger than had been advertised. At this point I said whatever, bought the shoes-dipping into my own pocket to pay the difference-and drove an hour and a half back to work with some little snot's tap shoes, wracking my brain the whole way on why I was working for these people. The next day, my boss informed me that the shoes were too big and I needed to return them. I did just that, got my money reimbursed and quit the internship.
Back in the spring of 1999 I was lucky enough to land an internship with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League during my last year of high school. Being a minor league team the office staff was only about 8 people and relied on interns for a lot of work. Duties included everything from prepping promo items for game day, creating screens for the jumbotron and printing stats for the coaches. There was one duty that wasn't included in the list of assignments.
One day I was asked to take what looked to be a perfectly good office chair to the Salvation Army. It appeared to be in great shape so I asked my boss if I could take it come as I was heading to university the next year and needed a chair for my desk. He quickly shot down my question and insisted that I bring it to the Salvation Army as soon as possible.
A few days later I was in the office and one of the players asked me if I had heard about why James was fired. I thought it was poor performance. Nope. He was caught masturbating in that chair for the 3rd time and FINALLY got fired after being caught cranking his horn for the 3rd time. I was the lucky recipient to transfer the masturbatory chair to the Salvation Army.
The kicker...James went on to work for a hot dog company after being fired.....
Were you a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed go-getter? Did you give a shot to one only to have it backfire horribly? Send in your stories, subject line: Intern Horrors.