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I couldn’t find the elevator button. Minutes away from my first big meeting, my first real taste of corporate America, and the elevator seemed determined to snatch away my moment of glory. I tried to maintain my self-assured countenance, practiced tirelessly in the mirror the night before, but when a smartly dressed man merely stretched his hand behind a decorative pillar to press the elevator button, my confidence was shattered.
In the elevator, I revived my spirits by consuming half a box of tic tacs and assuring myself that at least my words would smell good. Eyes watering from the minty burn coating my tongue, I exited the elevator and shook hands with Ms. Kendra Shatterney, Director of Resident Artist Funding for the Harrisburg Arts Council. As she led me to a conference room, I prayed that I would not disgrace my wonderful place of summer employment, Carlington Theater.
I had spent the past two months surviving the deliciously hectic world of Carlington Theater’s Education department as the only high school intern. I had encouraged kids to brave stage fright, tell knock knock jokes, and laugh until their stomachs hurt. I had ushered for audiences of 600 people and explained to an angry throng that the theater could not hold any more bodies. I had felt unprepared and unsure with every new experience, but I followed by dad’s sage advice, “fake it ‘til you make it.”
So I sat in a black leather swivel chair and began to explain to Ms. Shatterney why she should consider offering Carlington Theater grant money to further their programs, which promoted literacy in inner city schools. At least, that’s what I hope I said. Somewhere between spilling my folder of laboriously organized brochures and spewing apologetic sentences in a continuous minty stream, I accomplished something. Ms. Shatterney smiled. That tiny gesture of acceptance dissolved my nerves and I talked, nothing fancy, nothing spectacular, just words, honest and heartfelt. I told her what I thought and she listened. When I had said everything I wanted to say, she handed me her business card and by a miraculous stroke of luck I had one of mine to give her in exchange. She accompanied me to the elevators and when the doors slid shut for my descent, I sank back, dazed and elated.
I guess my dad knows something after all.
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