Is it possible for interns to sue their employers?
It’s a question that a lot of summer interns ask themselves, sometime between wiping the dried tears off their faces and brushing the beads of sweat off their brows.
But this summer, aside from all the usual reasons to cry to a lawyer, I had something else to worry about as an intern: Being possessed by the devil.
No, seriously. My office was haunted — as haunted as the empty eyes of Lindsay Lohan staring out of her jail cell. (We care, LOLhan.)
I didn’t know this until about the second week of my internship, when one of my coworkers returned from lunch and told me, a summer salad still caught between her teeth.
“I just saw Neville,” she said, settling into her seat.
“Who’s Neville?” I asked.
“Neville’s the boy who haunts our bathrooms.”
“Oh, right.” I replied, staring mindlessly at an Excel spreadsheet. “Wait, what?”
Yes, Neville. He’s the ghost who haunts the bathrooms of the Old Schoolhouse on 5 Brooke Green in Hammersmith, London. If you decide to visit, you may also hear the screams of children late in the afternoon, sometimes alongside the blaring music of a real ice cream truck, because what’s weirder and more English than ghost-children screaming as real ice cream trucks peddle popsicles to tired office workers.
So … is it possible for interns to sue their employers?
As I found out, in the case of demonic possession, it’s a hard case to fight if you’re the intern. First of all, you’ll have to go through an exorcism in order to be able to plead your case, since you’re basically incapacitated otherwise. And exorcisms are as effective as, like, China’s efforts to conceal the true age of their gymnasts (Congratulations Dominique Dawes and the Bronze Medal 2000 USA Women’s Gymnastics Team!). Second, most employers make you sign a document before you start your job, requiring you to give up your rights to sue them over a lot of things and their tricky corporate lawyers usually have things like ghostly intrusion covered.
So what was I to do to protect myself against demons? Closet them? LGBTQI answer? No. It was hard to ignore the question, as every week I would hear a different story about the hundreds of children who died in the fire at the building decades ago, or of the seldom-seen receptionist who was chased out of the office one day by a translucent child, never mind the diligent financial analyst who had heard children in the building and seen windows open and shut without being willed by a body late one evening.
I was between a rock and a scary, scary place.
So I did what I normally do in these situations, I looked at my wrist and read my tattoo: WWJRD? As in, “What would Julia Roberts do?” (No, I’m kidding, I don’t have that tattooed on my wrist. It’s just tattooed deep in my psyche, where it will never wrinkle.)
So my options were to eat, pray or love. And I was going to tell you about how I ate, prayed and loved this summer (Lauren Rosenthal, see “Eat Eat Pray Pray Love Love”) to ward off ghosts, but to be honest, I only did one of those things. And it was pretty much all I had to do.
I just prayed.
It all happened pretty naturally. I’m not a spiritual person and I don’t even know what you’re supposed to do with rosary beads, but sometime during my third week of work, I found myself cupping my hands and whispering fond things to the Holy Trinity.
And once I started praying, I really couldn’t stop.
I prayed during the days in the stone church across from my office, rushing there after I finished my lunch to water a plant, light a candle and kneel below a solemn statue. I prayed on the Tube on my way back home every evening, counting a blessing at each of the eight stops between my office and the house. I even prayed at night to the beat of remixed M.I.A in public bathrooms, as I tied my shoes and checked my phone.
And for about two weeks, I took my piety online, starting a tumblr blog about faith with fellow British Bulldog Brannack McLain ’12. (See: HYPERLINK “http://MyLifeIsPious.tumblr.com” t “_blank” MyLifeIsPious.tumblr.com.)
I would say, looking back on the summer, my most formative experiences were spent in the rickety wooden pews of old European churches, because it taught me that faithful toil will protect your soul from the undead, regardless of mortal legal boundaries.