25 February 2015

The simple ones, they get you

I felt reasonably proud of myself when I landed an internship with EELV, a left-wing French political party. This, I thought, would allow me to begin networking within my dream field and to demonstrate my competence and intelligence.

Also my unbelievable stupidity, as it turns out.

So I’m finishing my archiving tasks, breaking down boxes that previously contained campaign documents. I gather a dozen or so broken boxes in my arms and head downstairs to deposit them in the recycling bin outside.

I push open the door and nudge it against the wall so it sticks, then step out to stuff the boxes into the overflowing bin. After a final glance to make sure they haven’t fallen, I turn to go back inside. And find the door closed against me.

No, I think desperately, shoving the door. No.

I frantically ring the other offices in the building – the municipal mediator, the Socialist Party, even the National Front. But of course everyone is out today.

My keys, coat, phone, and bag are all locked inside. I turn my back to the door and look out into the rain, weighing my options.

  1. Borrow a phone to call the attachée and reveal that I cannot be trusted alone.
  2. Use the borrowed phone to text my girlfriend to bring my duplicate apartment key and give up on life outside our love nest.
  3. Make a run for the law cabinet down the street, where the local EELV president runs his practice, and borrow his key.
At length, I decide to try the EELV president. To my dismay, however, his secretary informs me that he is out of the office. She suggests that I ask for the key directly at City Hall. This would be another three-minute dash in the rain, but it was a chance.

I leave the warm cabinet with the nice secretary and run down the cold, wet street to City Hall. At the entrance, three guards and a custodian gawk bewilderedly at me: soaked hair and clothes, smudged makeup, desperation in my eyes.

I explain my situation, my French breaking under pressure, and hope that one of the guards will direct me to the Key Department or something. But it
’s the custodian who comes to my rescue.

“It’s the office on Cours Maréchal Juin?” he asks.

“Yes!” I respond, suddenly bursting with optimism.

He informs me that he has that building key and tells me to wait while he fetches it. I nod, so relieved I forget to be embarrassed. When he returns, wearing a raincoat, he hands me a bright pink umbrella, and I have to restrain myself from hugging him.

This may or may not have spoiled my opportunity to prove my intelligence.