Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

Adventures in Work

From a comment I made earlier today in a friend's journal:

A story. It's the story of me getting fired from an internship.

Summer '93: between freshman and sophomore year of college. I'm home in Virginia, wanting writing work. I get it at a community weekly in Reston, next to the town I live in. I'm the intern/extra writer. One of the few articles I write is an interview with a teenage Paralympics athlete (he had spina bifida, and he raced in swimming events).

I got something wrong in the article. This wrong thing got amplified by the editor rewriting it (inventing a quote in the process, when at least every quote in my piece had been accurate; I'm VERY careful when quoting others). The athlete's mother called my editor and read him the riot act. The next day I show up to work to find my boss telling me I couldn't work for them anymore, and he told me about that call. The editor, however, claimed that it was all my fault because it was my mistake in the first place, and of course did not acknowledge that he'd made it worse. (Also he claimed he rewrote the piece to "make it read better," and nothing else. Thanks, bub, for saying that not only am I inaccurate, I dunt write gud.) He said I couldn't work for him anymore, BUT he'd be fine if I came back the next summer and interned again. In other words, "I don't value your work after this mistake, but I would deign to let you work for me for nothing later." And he had the gall to sound like he was doing me a favor.

I went home, vented to Dad, and (on his advice) went out to watch something funny and dumb, that Coneheads movie. Occupied myself other ways the rest of the summer.

Five years later, when I was visiting Virginia again after a year of GETTING PAID FOR MY WRITING at the Hermiston Herald, I REALLY HAD TO resist going over to the office of that community newspaper, finding that editor and LAUGHING A SCREAMING LAUGH IN HIS FACE. (My friend Marie Grant, a lovely-respectable-upstanding member of the community, actually said in her adorable French accent "Yeah! You should do that!")
Tags: work

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