During college, I had ton of internships, some better than others. One summer, I landed an internship at an advertising company on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. I was really excited—I basically had that song “Hot Child in the City” playing in my head when I fantasized about all the interesting people I’d work with, and all the cute clothes I’d wear. Of course, like most things you get hyped about, this experience turned out to be majorly disappointing. I soon found out that while I had a paid internship, I had very little actual work to do. I was bored out of my mind. To pass the time, I went on fun little trips during lunch.
One day, I decided to check out a sandwich shop I found on Yelp that was in the old Water Tower building. I love historical stuff and sandwiches.
I walked there without a hitch and settled down to eat a gigantic chicken sub with extra tomatoes, my official favorite sandwich topping. What I wasn’t aware of at the time was that there was a salmonella recall on tomatoes, and that I was ingesting all sorts of germs that would soon be sailing through my digestive tract. Spoiler alert: this is not going to be pretty, so if you’re eating now, please stop.
After making mouth love to the sandwich, I headed back to the office. On my walk back, I encountered a Greenpeace dude. Usually, I ignore all pamphleteers on the street asking for donations of my non-existent funds, but something stopped me this time. Perhaps it was the fact that the Greenpeacer complimented my outfit, and that’s generally the key to my heart. Before I knew it, I had signed some papers and given him my credit card number—apparently I was going to donate a small amount to the cause each month. It was at that point that my stomach began to churn. I think I had heart palpitations, too. I did whatever I could to shut this guy up and get to a toilet—STAT.
After taking the elevator up to my office, I headed directly to the bathroom. I won’t get into specifics, but I thought that after one long “conference call” in the bathroom, I’d be able to ride out the rest of the afternoon without much trouble. But after heading back to my desk and sitting down, I realized that wasn’t going to be the case. My stomach was literally speaking foreign tongues and, there’s really no elegant way to say this, so was my butt. I clenched my cheeks, trying to keep the sounds from seeping out. Since my cube was in the center of two young 20-something full-timers who were pretty and catty, I was mortified. I spent the rest of my afternoon running to and from the bathroom, completely conscious of the fact that these girls knew I had full-fledged diarrhea. I began counting my trips, trying to mark the high number as some sort of World’s Most Embarrassed Intern record. I counted at least 20 trips between my desk and the bathroom that afternoon. I wish I were exaggerating.
Getting home that day was the highlight of my internship. I had managed a long day at the office and a scary train ride home without crapping my pants. Later, I even had the foresight to call my credit card company and report it lost—thereby avoiding donating to a cause I couldn’t afford, let alone understood. That was the day I got my “I Greenpeaced Out” story. While embarrassing internship horror stories seem like the end of the world, I’ve learned that they generally make for awesome anecdotes to share later. I just avoid telling mine whenever anyone’s eating lunch, particularly anything with tomatoes.
Oh man. Has anything like this ever happened to you?
Related post: My Most Embarrassing Moments: A Countdown