Interns Blog: Going Out with a Shake, Wobble, and Bang
Written by: Marie C.
On what seemed a rare mild August day, my coworker, Catherine, and I decided to take our sandwiches down to this rather luxurious pier we found just off the Hudson River Greenway. The air felt cool as it breezed through our sun-warmed hair while we walked past the shady park in front of our building on Walker Street. The walk from Cambridge University Press down to the Hudson River is pretty transformative. While our building isn’t located in a considerably busy part of the city, there are moments when things get quite crowded and slightly hectic (like the times when we walk one block over to Canal Street!). This walk, however, has calming effects. It could just be my attraction to water, but I think it’s the same for most people. Herman Melville probably said it best in the opening chapter to Moby Dick:
“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”
So, reader, you could say that our short journey to the river for an hour out of our day prevents our hypos from getting the upper hand. The walk is the same every time: it takes us past office buildings, apartments, shops, and restaurants on our way to the serene openness of the river. The pier is very close to a large park complete with lush grass, smiling babies, and wagging dogs.
On this particular day, though, we bypassed the park and went directly to the pier, which has a playground, mini-golf, beach volleyball courts, a turf field, and decking with lounge chairs at the very end with a view of the Statue of Liberty. We sat in the shade on the decking and ate our lunch, and as usual, we spent our lunch break talking about funny things that happened during the day, books we’ve read and are currently reading, and the like, before we settled into the perfectly shaped blue lounge chairs to read our respective books. I was slowly digging through the prose poetry of Jack Kerouac’s novel, The Dharma Bums, while she was diving headfirst into Suzanne Collins’ Catching Fire. We noticed that there were quite a few people outside this afternoon, but we just gave further credit to the nice weather. Just as Kerouac’s Ray was explaining that they “got to the top of the part of the trail that was a trail no more, to the incomparable dreamy meadow, which had a beautiful pond, and after that it was boulders and nothing but boulders,” (The Dharma Bums) a small vibration under our chairs quickly turned into a minor wobble.
I looked over at Catherine and she said, “Did you feel that?”
“Yeah, I did. I wonder what it was.”
We looked out toward the river and there was a NY Waterways boat going by slightly closer than usual.
“It was probably just the boat.”
Then we went back to reading for the duration of our lunch break. We decided to head back a few minutes earlier so that we could get fruit smoothies on our way back. Then, we started noticing hoards of men and women dressed in their work wear: black dress pants and blue dress shirts. We didn’t know what was going on; again, we just chalked it up to the nice weather. In our defense, it was really nice out. As we neared the street, she got a text message from someone in our department that said, “Grab Marie. We’re going downstairs” and for the life of us, we could NOT figure out why we would have to go downstairs. We work on the 18th floor of our building, and the 17th floor houses the ELT department and the mailroom. We started brainstorming anything from the probable to the ridiculous:
Maybe we have a meeting
Maybe there’s a guest speaker
Maybe we have to get the mail
Maybe we have to all mail something together!
Maybe they’re throwing a party for us!
I wonder what it could be!
Then we noticed even more people. People in every direction as far as we could see. Some were barefoot. All wore worried expressions while holding their cell phones up to their faces texting, searching, talking. In the very same instant that it dawned on us that something really out of the ordinary was going on, she received a text message from her mother that said, “Are you ok? Earthquake!”. We couldn’t hold it anymore. The whole thing was so absurd that we started laughing. It wasn’t a boat that rocked the pier, which in retrospect, I suspect that the possibility was simply impossible as a) the boat was entirely too far away and too small for such an effect and b) the pier has got to be very sturdy to house all of those activity areas. We were standing outside of an office building when a voice came over a loudspeaker: “Attention, everyone, there was an earthquake in the Washington DC area that registered as a 5.9. We are feeling the aftershocks here.” As the voice on the loudspeaker paused, Catherine and I exchanged worried glances, then looked back to it for the reassurance that definitely came next: “Everything is all right. You may return back to work now. I repeat: you may return to your buildings now.” Knowing that our families probably saw or heard news of the quake, we attempted to call home to no avail, so naturally, we decided to proceed with our original plan of getting fruit smoothies. Once she got her tutti-frutti smoothie and I got my banana-rama fix, we started walking toward our building to the soundtrack of sirens and police whistles and worried pedestrians inconvenienced by their uncooperative cell phones.
The normally quiet atmosphere of the park in front of our building had turned into a palpable vibrating energy consisting of worry and fear. We went upstairs and everything seemed business as usual; we were told that some people from our company ran outside, but not all. Curiously, we looked up the news and found that yes, in fact, there had been an earthquake in DC and its surrounding areas, and yes, we had felt the aftershocks while reading our books on the pier.
What we experienced today was something like pandemonium, and we found that we much prefer the Cambridge University Press version, ‘panda-monium’, in which the press adopted a panda to sponsor and everyone in the company, including myself, a summer intern, received adorable CUP stuffed pandas to sit at our desks. Now, as my internship comes to an end, I realize that it really couldn’t have ended in a better way. Interning in the College Sales & Marketing Group at Cambridge University Press for the summer has been an invaluable experience. Not only did I learn and experience a level of professionalism that I wouldn’t have otherwise, I learned that I have an interest in marketing, solidified my love of books and knowledge, and sharpened my desire to have a career in the publishing field. If I could give any advice to future interns, it would be to use your experience to the fullest. Do not spend your time whining about creating Excel spreadsheets and filing papers away. Do you work quietly and diligently, and when you’re done, ask for more. Talk to as many people as possible. Learn as much as you can about the field that you are interning in. By having a positive attitude, clear career goals, whether they’re just being formed or have been there all along, and a willingness to succeed, you will have the most personally and professionally beneficial internship experience. I have enjoyed writing blogs for CUP and I am thrilled that they have been distributed to the public! Now, all of my fellow interns have been gone for almost two weeks, and me, well, let’s just say I’m going out with a shake, wobble, and bang, and believe me, I will be back!
I am hoping Marie will announce this herself in a future post, but I can’t resist sharing some happy news. Marie WILL be back — on Monday — as a full-time Cambridge employee in our Library Sales and Marketing Department.