Thursday, April 14, 2005

A day in the life of a French newspaper intern

Just got done with one of the craziest days of my life. I actually took everything pretty calmly all day, but it's 1 a.m. and even though I woke up early today, I can't sleep. Maybe I'm in post-stress-whatever. Here's how it went down:
6h00 Wake up definitively after a night spent between waking and sleep, despite taking a sleeping pill at 22h30.
7h20 Walk out the door to see the bus coming quickly up the street, five minutes early. I run across three lanes of traffic to catch it.
7h33 Arrive at the Sofitel business hotel where I'm supposed to meet a reporter from Le Progr├Ęs to cover an 8h00 breakfast press conference on a new public/private partnership for public works projects. Decide to walk around a bit in order to not be the first one there.
7h50 Arrive at the 9th floor dining room and admire the beautiful view while trying not to look out of place, which of course I do — the fact that I keep scanning the room looking for my reporter being a clear hint.
8h03 Realize the guy is not going to show up. I then eat breakfast in a roomful of rich, white, old French men in suits while five slighter younger white guys in suits give a two-hour powerpoint presentation full of technical intricacies that I would be at a loss to understand in my native language, let alone French. I dutifully take notes anyway, in the fear that my crazed editor will want me to write an article anyway.
10h20 He does.
11h45 And he also wants me to go with this other guy to another conference this afternoon.
12h20 Finish article and leave it on the desk of the reporter who was supposed to be there, as per my editor's instructions, and leave before anyone can fill up my lunch hour.
12h45 Check email at Centre Oregon.
13h30 Return home for lunch to find my apartment in disarray. Half my fault, half Kaci's, who came over to do laundry.
14h30 Go out to catch same bus.
14h36 Bus should be here.
14h40 Bus really needs to get here.
14h43 What the fuck? Should I take the tramway? No, that'll take too long. Just wait for the next bus. When does it come? 14h55?? Crap! What if that one doesn't come?
14h44 Bus comes.
15h03 Arrive at Club de la Presse, worried that the conference started without me.
15h10 Conference starts (good old Frenchies). Conference consists of me, my reporter guy and four members of a transport union who think it would be a great idea to dig waterways connecting four of France's main rivers.
17h00 Return to the office being abandoned once again by my reporter who might be able to clarify important, journalistic-like details such as, "What river-making project are they talking about?" "How are they planning on paying for it?" and especially, "Who are these people?" This, in addition to the inevitable help I would need in WRITING AN ARTICLE IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE, a concept which does not appear to particularly concern nor impress anyone, despite the rather obvious clues that I'm not fluent that regularly fly out of my mouth.
19h30 Finish article. I go to another reporter I followed once to ask her one or two style questions to polish it up. She takes the article out of my hands and bleeds corrections all over it.
19h40 Trying simultaneously not to hate her for "helping" me and to cheer myself up with the fact that her corrections were mostly of my French and not of my journalistic style, I set back to work.
20h00 I set the final copy on my reporter guy's desk and leave before anyone can tell me anything else to do, fully 12 hours after I started work that morning. Ugh.

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