Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Gamour Game


As I mentioned earlier, I was a college intern at a TV station in the Pennsylvania hinterlands.  I worked an entire semester for free.  40 plus hour weeks- including nights, weekends, you name it.  No pay.  No dinero.  Nada.  Bupkiss. In fact, I was actually paying for the privilege because I was forking out buckets of tuition money. 
At least I was getting college credit- mostly for hanging around the newsroom pretending to be helpful.  All of the interns were hoping to be discovered and offered multi-million dollar contracts.  However, this being backwoods Pennsylvania, it was fairly obvious that most of us were not going to wind up on TV.  For starters, we were hopelessly inept.  We couldn’t write.  Our on-camera skills were non-existent.  And it didn’t help that we thought professional business attire came from “Chez Goodwill”.  Our sole qualification- we had all declared journalism as our majors.  As you might imagine, nuclear engineering was not a career option for C+ liberal arts students like us.
     The interns did receive one semi-valuable perk.  The station paid for our housing!  But it turns out that “housing” is a loosely-defined term.  They put us in a rundown house in the middle of a terrible slum.  We’re talking ghetto.  Every night we could hear the drunks stumbling around in the streets, drunken arguments, screeching tires as cars swerved to miss the drunks, and an occasional gunshot or two.  We were too dumb to complain.  (see C+ Liberal arts)  So, after work, we holed up in our dump praying the drunks would stay away.  One night, I got out of my car and started walking up the sidewalk.  Suddenly, I realized the house was exactly the same as my salary.  Nada.  Zilch.  Gone.  The building had been replaced by a freshly-installed mud-filled lot.  As it turns out, a firebug had been lighting-up our tenement district for several months.  Really- somebody torched the house.  It turns out, there was a reason we were put up in that particular shack.  In addition to Dialing for Dollars, our TV station also produced one of those clown-hosted kiddy shows.  On the side, BoBo the clown worked as a slumlord, so BoBo was free to inflict his squalid abode on us interns.  After the fire the station had us refugees moved to an entirely different town- putting us up in a dormitory at a religious college.  All the religious school students avoided us like the plague. 


They were probably warned that we were journalists.  I guess it was good training though- since journalists frequently are treated like lepers.  At least nobody burned down the dorm.
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