Why I never did an internship

Posted: 2011 in Post 6.5
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, March 28, 8:09 p.m.

“Jack O’Lies is an alcoholic waste of skin who deserves to die,” says Leo Krakowski, aka the Seattle Crimeologist. His long fingers encircle and worry the Starbucks cup, which is the same pasty hue as his complexion. It’s his third latte in forty minutes. And I thought I had a caffeine addiction.

“But you already know that, right?” he adds, sneering at me.

“He’s a very good writer,” I reply lamely.

“He’s a hack! An ad department tool! He is a complete space suck,” Leo retorts.

Leo Krakowski, professional blogger and crimeologist (whatever that is), is not at all what I expected. I remember seeing his distorted image in the now iconic news footage from the Lake Washington murder scene, in which Jack shoved him and he fell down in the mud. I don’t know what happened between them to precipitate the shove. Besides the genuine reporter’s notebook, available at any office supply store, there’s very little about young Leo that convinces me he’s a real journalist. He’s twenty. He’s scrawny. He wears a voluminous black trench coat. He looks like a Columbine killer.

Columbine Killers Dylan Klebold and Eric David Harris

Maybe he’ll shoot me, right here in the Northgate Mall Starbucks.

Nah, this post-adolescent dork doesn’t have the balls to kill a story, much less me. He’s a journalism school drop out turned full time crime blogger. This little bastard makes more a month than I do.

When we met less than an hour ago, he was all smiles. Upon learning that I’m not, in fact, a policewoman engaged in a torrid affair with Washingtonian newspaper crime reporter Jack O’Lies, Leo’s disappointment was profound. His response can be summarized as “Are you freakin’ kidding me?” But with a whole lot of swearing.

When I assured him, nope, I’m aught but print journalist who interviewed fellow print journalist Jack O’Lies a week ago, he threw his head back and covered his eyes with both spindly fingered hands.

“Oh come the crap on!” he wailed. He then chugged the entirety of his first latte, jumped up, and huffed off to buy another.

I remained at our little circular café table, my hands protectively clutching my dry nonfat cappuccino, which Leo insisted on buying me. He was embarrassingly ostentatious about it, as all twenty-year-old boys are when buying a drink for a woman. I’d have to make this $3.49 beverage last. It was clear we were now going Dutch.

“What a waste!” he lamented upon returning. “I was sure I’d finally nail that miserable a-hole!”

He slugged back half of the latte, rambled about the long bus ride from Seattle’s awesome Capitol Hill neighborhood to the impossibly remote realm of Seattle’s Northgate neighborhood, then drained the latte.

When he returned with his third drink, he appeared resolved to make hay of his fruitless sex scandal chase by unloading an internship’s worth of fury on me. It was an internship suffered under the inebriated aegis of Jack O’Lies, Washingtonian crime reporter.

His primary grievances:

  • Jack’s unprofessional hungoverness at work.
  • Jack’s lack of sympathy for Leo’s cool, totally justified hungoverness at work.
  • Jack’s unending nitpicking over petty details of spelling, grammar and punctuation.
  • Jack’s ad department tool tasks—“Writing stupid obituaries for stupid old white people from stupid Seattle neighborhoods like Magnolia, Queen Anne and Ballard”—which he foisted off on Leo.
  • Jack’s lazy habit of calling the public information officers at the various police agencies and asking, “There anything I should know?” once a day, instead of downloading the police scanner app to his (nonexistent!) iPhone and sallying forth to get the story firsthand.
  • Jack’s lameness at coming in second for a Pulitzer Prize. Second!
  • Jack’s inexplicable tenacity at holding onto his job.

“I had to watch, like, forty-five brilliant investigative reporters get axed, while Jack just kept on doin’ his thing, writing pay-by-the-line obits and helping the marketing department sell ad space to mortuaries. The man has no ethics.”

“The Washingtonian fired forty-five investigative reporters? How many did they have to start with?”

“I don’t know, a lot, whatever! The point is, he’s a tool. In all five senses of the word.”

Where have I heard that before?

“He’s got post traumatic stress disorder or something,” I say. “I’m not apologizing for him. I don’t really know him. But it’s pretty obvious, don’t you think? After what happened to his wife…he’s an alcoholic, you know.”

“And boo-hoo, let’s keep him on staff forever, drawing sixty-five grand a year for whoring himself to the advertisers and regurgitating the b.s. that the cop mouthpieces feed him,” Leo snaps.

I am given pause.

“He makes sixty-five thousand dollars a year?” I say.

Leo’s sneer blooms into a grin. He’s got me by my Achilles heel: unequal compensation. He leans back in his chair and nods slowly at me.

“Are you sure?” I say.

Leo nods again, very slowly. Then he winks at me, even more slowly. He looks like an anorexic Cheshire cat.

cheshire cat

He’s trying to work me. It’s working.

“I had a friend in HR. I got a look at his employment file,” he says. “Do you know how many times he was disciplined for showing up drunk at the office?”

Wrong tactic. Now I feel sad rather than righteously outraged over my poor pay.

“His wife died,” I say. “She was murdered by the serial killer he was covering. And it was a total coincidence. Don’t you see the irony?”

“Oh, cry me a river!” says heartless, hyper-caffeinated Leo in an ironic tone. “It’s not like the killer targeted Jack for revenge, like in a movie or something. It was just stupid bad luck.”

“That’s exactly my point!” I say. “That’s the irony, right there! I can’t believe you don’t get it.”

“Whatever,” Leo says. “It was random. She could’ve been taken out by a drunk driver or cancer or something. Does that give him license to wallow in some third-rate depression and get drunk every night for freakin’ ever?”

Again, this blogger gives me pause. Maybe young Leo shouldn’t be underestimated after all.

“He’s trapped,” I say. “He’s over-specialized. He can’t find another job at his age.”

“He’s, like, forty-five, right? Yeah, that’s old, but it’s not like he’s some poor seventy-year-old trying to score a Wal-Mart greeter job to pay for his blood pressure meds. He’s gonna wind up a homeless wino before he’s fifty, mark my words. And it’ll be his own damned fault.”

“How obsessed with him are you?” I say.

Leo sets his latte down on the little table too hard. He folds his trench coat clad arms over his trench coat clad chest. He attempts to glare at me penetratingly, like Jack does. Jack sees through me without effort; Leo without success.

“And, seriously? Seriously, what’s that supposed to mean?” he says.

“I’m not being sarcastic,” I say. “I want to know everything you know about him. Everything. Mind if I record this?”

 

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