HARLEM — It was the fall of 2005 and I had just been given a summer internship at The Washington Post. But to my horror, the paper demanded a personal bio. I decided that I hadn’t: 1.) Gone to a prestigious enough college 2.) Spoken enough languages or 3.) Fed enough Guatemalan villagers in my spare time, to write a straight bio.
So, I said “fuck it” and rolled with this*, figuring it was too late for them to fire me anyway:
A few days before I officially landed this gig, an editor at the paper gave me a ring. He sounded a bit confused.
“So, you’re 26, huh?”
“And you’re a graduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno?”
“Actually, undergrad, sir. I’m done in May.”
“Why the hell is it taking you so long to get through journalism school? Is there some prison time we need to know about?”
“Do four semesters of Spanish count?”
“This says you’ve interned or worked at five newspapers. Is that right?”
“Yeah, the Contra Costa Times, the Monterey County Herald, the Riverside Press-Enterprise, the Reno Gazette-Journal and the Boston Globe. I loved every minute.”
“This thing also says you want to be a sportswriter.”
“Yes, sir. I grew up watching the A’s back home in the Bay Area. The dream? To become the next Rickey Henderson. The problem? I throw like Florence Henderson. So, sportswriting seemed to be the natural fit. Like I said, I’ve loved every minute.”
“Nice try. No, really.”
“And I also hear you’re a golfer. What’s your handicap?”
“Putting, chipping and driving, sir.”
“We’ll have to get back to you.”
* The paper ran this vignette in a booklet that they handed out in the newsroom. As I had suspected, many of my colleagues that summer had 1.) Gone to prestigious colleges 2.) Spoken multiple languages and 3.) Fed tons Guatemalan villagers in their spare time.
And I didn’t get fired. At least, not immediately.