Thursday, June 04, 2015

Intern season: Lesson #1

Folks, as I mentioned in this linked post, it's intern season. These eager and idealistic future leaders have much to learn, and need to balance their classroom knowledge with boardroom reality. When it comes to commuting though, there's no classroom education. Becoming knowledgeable takes real life experience.

Recently, I witnessed a young person en route to a summer job in New York City. His commuting skills could have benefited from classroom training.

Get it? TRAINing! Ok stop groaning. The scenario was amusing, and it even made me remove my headphones to watch it play out. What happened, you ask? Read on, class is now in session.

I was on a morning train, heading into Manhattan. It was busy, and when I boarded there were no aisle or window seats available. I put my bag down in the vestibule, inserted the earbuds, and proceeded to sleep-stand.

Exhibit A: Young guy talks, older guy listens, I snooze
At the next stop, two men boarded, a young man and older man. The young man was smiling, super enthusiastic and chatty. The older man was not nearly as talkative, but he was humoring his companion. Perhaps they were father and son. Given the seating situation, they stood in the vestibule with me.

Given my penchant for crude drawings, I've provided a visual aid. See Exhibit A, the three of us standing in the vestibule.

As we made our way to the next stop, the young man filled the older man's ear with his thoughts on the company he worked for, the courses he plans to take in the fall, and social activities. There was no shortage of topics he wanted to discuss.

Their exchange hit home for me. I remembered how exciting I found the city when I was first coming up. Everything was an adventure. Was I like this at 21? I pulled out my earbuds and listened to the one-sided conversation.

Exhibit B: Companions Separated
We soon reached Mineola Station, which is a busy hub. Many people boarded and the vestibule became crowded.

Given all the jostling for decent spots to stand, the young man and the older man were separated by 3-4 people. See Exhibit B.

Now we get to the entertaining part. 

The young man, in all his dense, unchecked 21-year-old enthusiasm, tried to keep the conversation going. He was yelling to the older man across the crowd. The people between them were patient but looked at him with expressions as if to say, "are you serious?" It took a while, but the young man finally piped down. The enthusiastic look on his face did not change though. I hope it never does.

Will this learning experience go into the paper he'll have to write at the conclusion of the summer program? It should! A young man in an internship is like a sponge, but you can't say what he'll absorb. Let's hope he learned a valuable commuting lesson.

Maybe I'll write a commuting curriculum. It could be taught in all kinds of secondary education programs. I think I've identified enough case studies.

Happy and safe commuting, and may you encounter uncommon sense.
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