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The Intern Decathlon

February 23rd, 2009 by Conor Lastowka · 30 Comments


Five years ago tomorrow, my friend Richard wrote a letter to his boss.  Richard was working as an unpaid intern with the San Diego Gulls, a minor league hockey franchise.  Richard loves hockey, and gets along famously with pretty much everyone, but as I recall there was for some reason a personality clash with the guy that oversaw the intern program, and Richard grew dissatisfied with the gig.  Fortunately, he had me to help him out.  I convinced him that if he was going to quit, he should at least go out in a unique fashion, and we crafted a letter proposing a challenge to his boss.  We knew that this would essentially serve as a resignation letter, since this guy wasn’t the sort of person who valued “willingness to dream up wacky stunts” as a desired quality in employees, but what did we care? It would make a great story, albeit one that I had completely forgotten about until Richard rediscovered the letter and forwarded it to me yesterday.

Below is the unedited letter.  Richard has since toured the country with his band and seen the Great Pyramids.  The Gulls folded in 2008.

Jeremy and Dave,

I am disappointed at the recent events that have led to disagreements and tension between us in the workplace. While I am unsure as to what specific events have led to these disagreements and tension, I wish to assure you that it was never my intention to be anything other than a model intern. I have thoroughly enjoyed working for the Gulls, writing for the newsletter, meeting the players and coaches and watching the exciting games. I am willing to concede that at times, it may have been possible to interpret my behavior as overly brash or arrogant, but this is only because I felt that I was able to help the Gulls with my abilities, and felt that it would be beneficial to neither myself or the organization to not attempt to utilize them.

Unfortunately, with the current state of affairs, I am not sure that I will be able to stay on as an intern with the organization. I feel that due to recent incidents that remain unspecified to me, my behavior will now be put under a microscope, and that I will not be given the same opportunities to contribute and advance as the other interns, or as I might have before. This may not be the case, but based on the condescending tone of Dave’s email, namely lines such as “I can assure you that, regardless of your talents, you have made far from a good impression on those in a position to judge those talents,” I feel that my standing within the Gulls organization as a negative employee have been set in stone.

As I’ve said, I feel this is a shame, because I thought that I was a good fit for the Gulls, and I am reluctant to abandon what is the most unique and interesting internship opportunity I have had yet because of a few petty personal squabbles. So I would like to make a proposal to you, and it is as follows:

I compete against one or both of you in a decathlon, comprised of 10 pre-agreed upon events, ranging from tests of knowledge to physical contests. This would take place over the course of a single weekend afternoon, observed by our friends and judged by a panel of three impartial judges. Following the decathlon a party will be held at my house or at Dave’s or on the neutral territory of one of Pacific Beach’s many bars.

If I lose this decathlon, my tenure with the Gulls shall come to an unfortunate early demise. You will never see my face around the arena again, barring a deep playoff run, wherein the true hockey fan in me will likely be unable to contain itself. I will not bother you for references, further employment or too many complementary tickets.

HOWEVER, if I emerge victorious in the decathlon, I will continue my internship with the Gulls, and we will act as if I have started over from day one, with no prior knowledge of my attitude or abilities, nor prejudice.

I feel that this is the fairest way to resolve our conflict. I have begun the process of choosing potential events for the decathlon, here is a list of what I have come up with:

  • Old fashioned staring contest
  • Simpsons Trivia
  • Hockey shootout, either against each other or against Trevor Koenig
  • Who can beat the first four levels of Super Mario Bros. 1 the fastest
  • Bocce ball
  • Who can count a large pile of Goldfish snack crackers the fastest
  • Catching tennis balls in a tennis ball can (possibly with can in your mouth)
  • Surfing contest
  • Eating contest, preferably corn dogs (barring dietary restrictions)
  • We leave the room and go into separate rooms, and whoever comes back into the room the closest to five minutes without coming in before five minutes wins (no watches, clocks, cell phones, etc.)
  • State capitals, or state abbreviations or state flags quiz (i.e. a picture of a state flag is held up, first person to identify state scores a point)
  • Hockey Trivia
  • Seven game series of Seven game series of Rock Paper Scissors

These are simply a few of the ideas that I have come up with in the first hour or so of kicking ideas around. I am open to your suggestions and to those of outsiders, whatever will make for an exciting decathlon. I feel that this is by far the best way to resolve our dispute, whatever it may be. Please let me know your thoughts one way or another so that I can resolve my schedule for the next few weeks and prepare for the various events.


Tags: RiffTrax · silly

30 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mr. Alexander on Feb 23, 2009 at 10:09 am

    I didn’t know you could look to the climax of “Billy Madison” as an actual conflict resolution method…

    -Mr. Alex(is in no way in desperate suspense over the Street Sharks contest)ander

  • 2 DoughyGuy on Feb 23, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Kind of reminds me of the idea my friends and I came up with one night. Basically, get part-time jobs, and at each one try to come up with the most creative, interesting & unique way to get fired, without doing something illegal or hurtful.

    One of my favorites was to come into work with a sling & cast on your arm claiming you can’t adequately do your job due to an injury, but you’re going to try. Then go out for a smoke and switch the sling to other arm. Then, after lunch, come back to work with the sling on the other arm (the first arm). Rinse & Repeat until someone notices.

    Other ideas involved flatulance, the inability to use the word “and”, going around the office passing out blank sheets of paper and a pencil to everyone without any explanation, and insisting on speaking in an obviously false accent. The ultimate goal of it would be to categorize the various activities to quantify which actions would get you fired the quickest.

    Of course, the whole idea assumes that you have a source of income in the first place to support you while you bounce from job to job… If I ever hit the lottery or something and need to amuse myself I may do that.

  • 3 Steve R. on Feb 23, 2009 at 11:03 am

    wow, now that would be awesome if the decathalon had actually happened.

  • 4 Conor Lastowka on Feb 23, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Yeah, it’s the ultimate paradox. If you ever find yourself in the situation where you don’t need a crummy job, you’ll hopefully be able to fill your time with much better things than finding a crummy job and quitting in innovative ways.

    This is also why it’s far preferable to convince a friend to do stuff like this than it is to do it yourself

  • 5 Conor Lastowka on Feb 23, 2009 at 11:21 am

    Right, I forgot the resolution of the story. I think the guy wrote back something like “I’m sorry that this didn’t work out for you.” When we pressed him about whether he was going to take us up on the offer he wrote back “The Decathlon? We’re not going to be doing that.”

    And that was that.

  • 6 OxfordProle on Feb 23, 2009 at 11:26 am

    I think Richard is my new hero. Does he have a fan club? “Catching tennis balls in a tennis ball can (possibly with can in your mouth)” should be an Olympic sport.

  • 7 Richard on Feb 23, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Yeah, I wish I still had their responses. If I remember correctly, they responded with, “That’s kinda funny, now leave us alone.” To which we wrote back, “Is that a yes? I’ve been watching the Simpsons, so get prepared.” We followed that up with a few more emails that were something like, “I’m taking your silence as an acceptance, but please let me know what time works for you.”

    I didn’t fully read this again before forwarding to Conor. I’m disappointed in the amount of grammatical errors and typos, which is what got me in trouble with the Gulls in the first place. Their newsletter was bursting with mistakes, I offered to help in that area and voila! The boss hated me. I also think I referred to one of the other interns as “unintelligent,” later to find out the boss had a big crush on her.

  • 8 Constantine on Feb 23, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Well who wouldn’t hate a literate intern? You made the boss’ pride over his learning “Mary Had a Little Lamb” look downright silly. Why would you do that to him, huh? He sounds like a stand up guy for a juvenile idiot-man, you MONSTER.

  • 9 Scott on Feb 23, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    On the throat of the Gulls, doesn’t it kind of look like a silhouette of Fred Flintstone with a bad comb-over?

  • 10 DoughyGuy on Feb 23, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Either that or that Janitor Muppet without his hat looking up, like he sees Superman coming or something.

  • 11 Conor Lastowka on Feb 23, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    An amazing thing to point out. I think I see Homestar more than Fred, but well done nonetheless

  • 12 fauxarbres on Feb 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Ok this made my day. Especially

    We leave the room and go into separate rooms, and whoever comes back into the room the closest to five minutes without coming in before five minutes wins (no watches, clocks, cell phones, etc.)

    Believe me, I am so ready to pull a Gulls on my current job.

  • 13 your former boss on Feb 25, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Hi this is Richard’s former boss! Yeah, I work in the NHL now! You may have been intelligent, but you were the biggest douche bag ever. Everyone else in the organization (yes upper management) always asked me if you were gay. Good luck to you buddy!

    -Jeremy Zager

  • 14 Tommy Callahan on Feb 26, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Richard, were you watching Spank-travision? Maybe you were watching a movie with that funny comedian, oh what’s his name? Buddy Whackett? Richard, who’s your favorite Little Rascal? Alfalfa? Or is it SPANKY?

    Shut Up, Richard.


  • 15 You were an asshat! on Feb 26, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Have you ever stopped to ponder, how, pray tell, do you get fired from an UNPAID job?!?!?
    That should answer your question…

  • 16 UVA Blows on Feb 26, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Richard, did you know your former boss is now in the PR department for the L.A. Kings?

    Did you know the other one is the University of Georgia beat writer for two major newspapers?

    How’s that band thing coming along? Simpson’s trivia? What are you, 12? You must be a UVA graduate to come up with something so clever.

  • 17 Richard=Douche Bag on Feb 26, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Richard you are a huge douche bag. Everything I have read about you makes me think you are a conceited ass hole.

  • 18 Conor Lastowka on Feb 26, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Upper management used to pull you aside to ask you if an unpaid intern was gay?

  • 19 Conor Lastowka on Feb 26, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Is the spelling of douchebag as two words a hockey thing?

  • 20 Conor Lastowka on Feb 26, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    What is the LA Kings Upper Management’s policy on inquiring if interns are gay?

  • 21 Bill Corbett on Feb 27, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Only when used in an equation.

    “Ass hole” is exempt from that hockey rule.

  • 22 edge44 on Feb 27, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Haha, yeah what a bizarre thing to claim. It’s hard to even tell if he means it as a joke, he seems to really mean it.

    Does it say more about YOUR job or the organization as a whole, when part of your job description includes upper management repeatedly asking you about whether there are gays in the organization.

  • 23 Richard on Feb 27, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    To set the record “straight” —
    I just wanted to point out that I’m gay, so kudos go to the Gulls’ upper management for figuring that one out. They may not be able to produce a grammatically correct newsletter or manage a hockey team, but they certainly can sniff out the homosexual interns.

    I’m glad the Kings (and The Macon Telegraph, considered by many to be a major source of news) are cool with hiring homophobes. But who am I to say? They both probably make more money than I do with my job at Pizza Hut.

  • 24 Doug Freeman on Feb 28, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Wow, that is hilarious!

    And if those are, in fact, comments from Richard’s former bosses, you really have to appreciate their need to point out that one works in the NHL now and the other covers university sports for not one, but TWO, major newspapers. Seriously, congratulations on your outstanding successes in life, guys!

  • 25 Seth A. on Feb 28, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    David Hale is a tubby nerd with embarrassing facial hair.

  • 26 Tasha on Mar 3, 2009 at 9:48 am

    The great thing about this story is in an attempt to make yourself look like an intelligent person, you (richard) have made yourself look like a complete idiot. Good luck at Pizza Hut!

  • 27 Johnson on Mar 3, 2009 at 9:53 am

    I do not think that someone who graduated from UVA should be talking down to people from Georgia.

  • 28 Monk on Mar 3, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Posting this letter is perhaps the lamest thing I have seen on the internet this year. It is shockingly unfunny.