The Case of the Lost Cause

Vacuum cleaner roaring. Alarm clock shows 6.22am.

Another night without sleep. Despite living with a cleaning maniac, an overactive mouse succeeded to infiltrate this old London house and used my room as his own private nightclub, running and scratching the carpets all night in search of crumbs. I tried everything to get rid of him: peppermint oil, mice repellents, poisons, traditional wooden mousetrap, kill and seal mousetrap, bucket mousetrap, electronic mousetrap, glue catching trap, ultra power mousetrap, quick kill mousetrap and even the full mouse killer kit. A mice exterminator analysed the situation. All the holes were blocked. The mouse never surrendered.

But nevermind! I’m very excited because I’m taking my first steps towards becoming a scriptwriter. I rush into the tube station and proudly join the crowd of (sweaty) workers who all commute during rush hour on the central line. Yes, finally, after a long search following my graduation, I have a job, a goal, a purpose, a direction in my life! I’ve been selected for an internship in a very renowned film company.

Ok. Ok. So the truth is… while the film company’s reputation could not be better, the role could not be worse. I am below the bottom of the bottom. Even below the runners, which spatially would be as low as the centre of the earth. I have the glamorous title of ‘Runner’ Shadow’ and to reflect this title, I am situated in the basement, next to some abandoned scripts and a photocopy machine. Needless to say, it was unpaid.

My colleague, a smart show-off Spanish chap, is the most unhelpful person I’ve ever met. He tries everything to get himself up the hierarchy/floors.

What do we do daily? We make photocopies and tea, and on bright days we go to the post office. We used to fight to deliver every single cup of tea to renowned producers. But it was in vain. Runners’ shadows do not deliver cups of tea. They only make them. You can have two PhDs, a Nobel prize, and a 3 meters high statue on Trafalgar Square, you are not still not qualified to deliver tea.

It is all a very subtle process. When Mr. Producer decides he wants a cup of tea, the emergency phone in the runners’ room on the first floor rings. Through the door of the basement we see the livid face of the runner peeking: ‘a cup of tea for Mr. Producer. Quick!’. The Spanish Chap and I jump out of our seats. We fight over filling the kettle, adding the milk, stirring the tea, and the winner would then proudly climb to the first floor and give the cup of tea to the runner. The cup of tea climbs one floor after another: the runner gives the cup to the assistant, the assistant passes it to the intern, the intern leaves it with the secretary, the secretary places it on the desk of the PA, who holds the supreme power to hand it to Mr. Producer. Occasionally, we were given a task that required a higher level of intellect, like making toasts with jam.

Today we learn that there is an opening for a development intern position. In the evening, I go to see the secretary to obtain some further information, but Don Juan is already there, flirting with her. I join them and am informed that Mr. X is the one who will be hiring the intern. The next morning, I arrive very early, with my CV and cover letter and knock on the door of Mr. X’s PA. Again, the Spanish chap has beaten me to it and is having tortillas with Mr. X’s PA. They were cheerfully eating them.

Spanish chap: ‘Oh! Clementine! Do you want to try some? It’s my grandmother’s recipe from back home. The BEST in the world. I think I’ve surpassed her this time!’

After another monologue about how Spanish people are superior to the rest of the world, I swallow the tortilla, which I hate to say, is very tasty.

Clementine: They are pretty good. I was wondering if I could have an appointment with Mr. X tomorrow?

Spanish chap: Oh, is it about the intern position? Do you mind if I join you?

Yes, of course I would bloody mind!

Clementine: Absolutely not. You are more than welcome to join us.

PA: Mr. X’s schedule is full, but you might be able to catch him early in the morning.

Clementine: Ok. I will come at about 8am.

I will be there at 7am!

Back home, I spend the evening trying to cook fancy macaroons. I whatsapp Lexie: ‘Kitchen emergency! Can we postpone our Skype meeting?’ I look at the apocalyptic vision. The top of the macaroon is slipping on the garnish like a drunken giraffe on an ice rink. I receive a text from Lexie.

Lexie: ‘No problem. What are you cooking?’

*Adds the picture*

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Lexie: ‘What’s that?’

I throw it all in the bin and resort to the safest option: a box of Swiss chocolates.

The next morning, I arrive at the same time as the sun, with my CV, cover letter and box of chocolates. The show-off isn’t there yet. I pass by the intern cubicle. Between two columns of books she is sleeping on a pile of scripts. Ten empty cups of coffee and a couple of opened vitamin tubes stand as a barrier in front of her. Both her desk phone and mobile are ringing. Mr. X enters her office.

Mr. X: Jane!

Jane: Yes?

Mr. X: Have you returned my shoes from ASOS?

Jane: I…

Mr. X: What are you waiting for? And I need that script report before my meeting. 10 minutes!

The Spanish chap arrives behind me. I hand him the box of Swiss chocolates.

Clementine: Good luck. Oh and by the way, that’s the BEST chocolate in the world. It’s Swiss.

And I quit.

Sometimes it’s best to give up on a certain battles, because they are not the right ones to fight. This is not the way one becomes a writer. This evening I shared a piece of Swiss Gruyère with the mouse and we both fell asleep, digesting our food peacefully. I called him Bernie, by the way.