I don’t like going to the dentist, but rather than fearing a pain in my teeth, I fear a pain in my heart. When they take out that spit-sucking tube, I look at it and think, “That spit is collecting and festering, and at the end of the week, some poor intern is going to have to dump out a large bucket of accumulated patient spit and then stick her gloved hand inside it to clean out the grime. And that intern won’t be a happy person then, or for the rest of her life.” Then I start to cry. For two summers, I worked as an orthodontic intern, and for two summers I spent my time fantasizing about a man with Jon Stewart’s humor, Brad Pitt’s looks and Dave Grohl’s sexy voice dashing into the office on his white horse and in his shining armor, turning to me and saying, “You’re really hot and I’d like to clean that bucket.” It was around the one-hundredth time I had this fantasy that I realized perhaps next summer, I should find another job, and get another job I did.This past summer I interned with a literary agent who worked in celebrity nonfiction in New York City. Let’s just say that my biggest adventure had little to do with spit and a lot to do with an oxygen tank and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.Let me paint the scene. It was a rainy day – and by raining, I mean that God must have been trying to wipe the earth free of homeless people, because they kept floating by on corrugated cardboard. My boss’s personal assistant, Jen, said to me, “I need you to go pick up an oxygen tank and deliver it to this hotel for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.” I looked outside as a crack head tried to anchor himself to a policeman’s leg with a collapsed umbrella. I looked back to Jen. “I’ll need an umbrella,” I said. She shook her head. We had a storage room full of books about conspiracies, how to lose five pounds in five days and, of course, Jesus – but no umbrellas. Well, I thought. If there’s one thing this world is lacking, it’s oxygen. If I must indulge a crazy cool rock band with an extra helping of a commodity as rare and as sweet as oxygen, then it is my duty to do so, Noah’s Ark and God’s wrath be damned.I ventured out into the rain, searching in vain for our car service. I quickly learned that limo drivers who have tinted windows don’t like dripping wet middle-class girls knocking on their windows, infesting their glass with poor germs and shouting over the din of the rain, “Are you my service?”Eventually I found my driver and commenced on my tour of the city. Fortunately for a dumb country girl like me, the driver was a nice old city man and was eager to educate me about how things used to be in New York City before all the neighborhoods went downhill. This man was Yoda. He prepared me for my mission to come by going on rants about immigrants and minorities. At one point he asked me if I was scared about all the immigrants infiltrating our neighborhoods, to which I shifted uncomfortably in my seat and said, “No.” He replied, “You will be – you will be.” Okay, so maybe he didn’t really say that, but regardless, he was like Yoda in that he took it upon himself to educate me about New York City and immigration, albeit in horribly racist ways.He also cultivated in me an eagerness to get out of the car and complete my mission. We pulled up to the correct block, and then I spent 10 more minutes in the pouring rain trying to figure out which unmarked ridiculously fancy hotel I was supposed to go into, all the while cradling a heavy oxygen tank as if it were my firstborn child. I finally found and entered this insanely fancy hotel, nodding as nonchalantly as I could at the scowling doorman, trying to pretend that I wasn’t flooding his precious floors with sewer water and most likely urine – if it’s liquid and in a city, some of it is bound to be urine. With my hair clinging to my face, my clothes secreting water and an oxygen tank dragging behind me, I squeaked across the floor, attracting the attention of the very rich, probably famous clientele in the lobby, until I made it to the front desk. I slung the oxygen tank onto the counter, pushed the soggy hair out of my face, gathered up my socially acceptable voice and said, “Hi, I have an oxygen tank for the Red Hot Chili Peppers via [my] office.” The man behind the desk frowned and agreed to make sure they got it. I waited for him to say something else. He just stared at my hair. I later realized the wind had parted it like a comb-over and the rain had matted it down into the proper toupee position. After so much work for one oxygen tank, I was a little disappointed that the concierge, rather than Anthony Kiedes, was the one scorning my hairdo, but alas, thus is life. I thanked the man and squeaked out the door to go back to the car and part two of “Why the Mexican border needs more rusted barbed wire” and back to the office. My time in New York City was full of adventures like this. While I never got a straight story on why the Red Hot Chili Peppers needed an oxygen tank, I can tell you this much – when a famous rock band needed oxygen, I delivered it to them, and you know what? It sure beat cleaning up spit for a summer.Kaminsky can be reached atlkaminsky@campustimes.org.



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