Over the course of the previous summer and my January internship, I had considered Vivian a very kind and gracious woman. She had, after all, offered me the opportunity to work for her, and then work for her again. And when I returned in the winter much less healthy than I had been, she encouraged me many times to take better care of myself. I still have on a shelf somewhere the book she gave me, called something to the effect of: "Taking Better Care of Yourself." Yes, she seemed genuinely concerned. Maternal even.
However, as time continued to pass and winter became spring, a few things happened that began to change my perception of her dramatically.
The first was something I discovered while talking to the two other girls about my age, Edith and Erica. They both had the same title as me, "Intern," but over the course of our conversation I learned that they were PAID interns, whereas I was working for free.
I decided that, since I was staying on past January, I should get paid as well. I remember fretfully attempting to compose an email, both my parents sitting over my shoulder (helicopter parenting for the WIN!), and trying to find a way to say, "I would like to be earning wages, please," that didn't sound.. pushy? Aggressive? Obnoxious and entitled? It was a fine line. Razor fine. When I had finally written something to my liking, I still had to close my eyes when I hit send. It was, for me, THE MOMENT OF TRUTH.
However, things worked out better than I could have hoped! The very next day, Vivian called me into her office and agreed that I should be paid for my time, like the other girls. Though, she said, perhaps a little less than them because they were a year older than me. Whatever! I said. That sounds reasonable!! It was all well an good as far as I was concerned. I had succeeded! I had stood up for myself and it had worked! Achievement.
It took a few more weeks (Yes. Weeks.) for me to realize that.... Yes, she had said she was willing to pay me, but somehow that hadn't materialized into actual payment. Another night of fretful email writing ensued. How do I find a way a casual and light way to say, "So... Uh........ About that payment?" Is it even possible to be casual and light about that sort of thing? I tried to make it seem like I just hadn't gotten the tax forms yet, so if I could just grab those from her the next time I was in the office, I could have them filled out in a jiffy! No problem.
When I was next in the office, Vivian wasn't there. It was one of her "work from home" days. But! There was an 1-9 and a W-4 sitting on my desk with a post-it that said to scan and send to the accountant when I was finished with them.
So... Mission accomplished! I hoped.