Prefrosh Passages: Anecdotes from the Intern

An awkward encounter.

Creative Commons photo by Steven Depolo, via Flickr

Awkward encounters always make for interesting stories. One happened to me the other day, so I thought that I’d share it with you.

It started off as a pretty normal day at my summer job. I was working on my assignments as usual when I ran into a computer program glitch a little after lunch, and as much as I racked my brains for a solution, I just couldn’t figure out how to fix it. Half an hour later, I decided that it was finally time to get some help.

The best person to turn to was my friend’s supervisor, who is an expert on the program that I was working with. The problem? His office is located in the back — a dark place into which summer students never venture. The few times that I’ve asked him questions about the program were times when he happened to be walking by my desk. Even my friend generally waits for him to come out of his office before asking questions. That day, I didn’t catch sight of him walking by. But I really needed some help — so, I turned to my friend.

“Hey, do you know where I can find your supervisor?”

“Oh, you just missed him. He came back from a meeting. He’s probably in his office now.”

“…But I really need his help…”

“Well, I guess you could find him in his office…”

“But no one goes there!”

“I know. But I don’t think that he’ll mind.”

So, fuelled by the confidence from those very words, I tiptoed towards the back. Of course, I feel the need to mention that she laughed her head off when I told her what happened afterwards.

It was eerily quiet at the back of the room. A narrow corridor links three offices together. Each office seats two supervisors. As I approached the open door, the first thing that I realized was that the two supervisors were seated with their backs towards the door. So neither noticed me. The second thing that I realized was that my friend’s supervisor was eating his lunch.

Okay. There are a few things that are very important in life. And food is one of them.

This was completely unexpected, and so I hovered in the doorway, unsure of what to do. A thousand thoughts must have gone through my head. Should I knock on the door? Would it be okay to interrupt him? No. Definitely not. He’s been in a meeting all day and didn’t get a chance to eat his lunch. I would be a really awful person if I interrupt him now. I’ll just turn around and come back later.

Of course, in a perfect world, that would happen and the story would end there. But in reality, I lost my chance to hightail it out there. What happened next (and I quote my friends) was reminiscent of bad horror movies where everyone scares everyone.

I hadn’t moved or made any sounds, but the other supervisor in the room slowly and cautiously turned his head around as if sensing a presence behind him. Of course, he must not have expected anything or anyone to actually be there because he jumped the moment he caught sight of me. I jumped too – and then froze right on the spot. We just kind of looked at each other for a long moment. I smiled weakly. He nodded. Then he turned back around and continued on working while I continued to stand by the door.

I guess we were still very much in shock. But we must have recovered at around the same time though because he turned around and pointed to the desk beside his with a questioning look directed at me just as I had unfroze and gestured towards my friend’s supervisor (in a bid to establish the fact that I didn’t happen to hang out in his doorway just for the sake of it).

It was then, I think, that my friend’s supervisor finally realized that there was someone standing in the doorway. At that very moment, we all realized the absurdity of the situation and started laughing.

“Five minutes. I’ll be there in five minutes.”

“Oh, no, no. Don’t worry. Please, have your lunch. There’s really no need. Take all the time that you need. Really. Please.”

I quickly reassured him while shaking my head and backing out of the room.

“Really. It’s not a rush at all. I was going to come back later. Please enjoy your lunch.”

I practically ran out of there.

It was mortifying. Yes. Awkward. Yep. Funny? To my friends, at least. And I’m glad that they were there to laugh with me. I think that it will be moments like these that I’ll remember best at the end of summer.

Milly Wang ’16 is now avoiding two supervisors.