Saturday, June 4, 2011
When I was interning at Letterman about ten years ago, one of the staff people was asking around to see if anyone would be interested in painting her apartment. She was moving out and needed to clean the place up a bit. I think her name was Susan and she was an assistant to one of the producers. She came by our little intern room, where several of us sat crammed next to each other. This was a smart move on her part because she knew we weren’t getting paid and that we were naive.
She asked if any of us were interested, and I said, “Sure! I’ll do it!” She was paying like $500.
Later that night, I remembered that I hadn’t ever painted before.
I was telling my roommate, Jason, about it as we sat in our one room, 400 square foot apartment, sitting at our table we got from the dumpster, a few feet away from our air mattresses laying next to each other. Luckily, Jason had worked for a summer painting before, so he knew what he was doing. Jason offered to help and we would split the money.
So, the next weekend, we got the keys to the apartment on the Upper West Side. We got in there and the walls seemed to go on forever, and the number of paint cans seemed really scarce. We got to taping, which I learned about for the first time. For the rest of the day and into the night we painted. Our relationship was already a little frayed, due to the fact that we shared such a small space together and that he was quite prickish, but we were having fun. I got to the kitchen area. I needed to take off the light switch cover so we could paint behind it. I unscrewed the screws, but I couldn’t get the plate off.
So I took my flathead screwdriver and started to pry it off. I couldn’t get it for awhile, but then, the screwdriver quickly jammed down into the wall before I could stop it.
A small electric fireball quickly burst out of the wall. I screamed and jumped back. There was a sizable black smear on the wall, the lights went out, and there was a divot taken out of the metal of the screwdriver I was now silently holding. Jason came running around the corner to see if I was all right. He reacted with more frustrated disappointment than concern while I whimpered on the inside knowing that it was only the rubber handle of the screwdriver that saved me.
Annoyingly, we had to stay the night, sleeping on the hardwood floors to get all the work done. The next morning, we painted over the black smear, put the plate back on the light switch, and backed out of the room telling no one.
A couple months later the internship was done and I haven’t heard from Jason since.
Nothing like that happened the last few days as I painted the window trim of my aunt and uncle’s house. It was all pretty easy. I got paid, we still get along and I didn’t hurt anything.