The time an unpaid internship nearly killed me — Just Being Funny By Caribbean Comedian Onicia Muller


After covering the box office, my boss basically said I could either wait in the freezing cold until closing time or buy a full-priced ticket to stay indoors. Mind you, I’d made her a sale by inviting my friend.

Imagine paying for transportation, food, clothes, hygiene — and making a sale — only to have your boss demand thirty in cash so you can clock in.

While holding back tears and choice words, I opened my wallet and gave Judas she thirty pieces of silver.

During clean up, my co-workers revealed that they earned ten dollars that night and had been getting twenty for day shifts.

Just ignore the random and unethically low compensation and focus on me. Actually, don’t ignore it. How in the first world, was I envious of someone making thirty dollars a day? That’s $3.75 an hour for an eight-hour shift.

Did my boss shake me down for cash so that she could pay my co-workers?

Wanting to lock-in a sweet industry job, I agreed to volunteer “until funding came in”. The estimated three-month wait turned into eight before I found out that everyone – except me – was being paid. I wasn’t even earning exposure because my raggedy boss misspelt my name in the playbill!

I’m not saying I’m thirsty to marry my cousin, but this saga kinda taught me how Jacob worked fourteen years for his scummy Uncle Laban.

Sometimes the unbridled desire for a ‘cute face thick waist’ – or in my case, a ‘full-time rat race’ – fuels stupidity.

Sigh. I was so dumb and spineless in my twenties that this experience isn’t even my lowest moment. So afraid of burning bridges at this crap job, while giving my two-week notice, I agreed to find a replacement for my spot on the slave ship.

A month later, I was at home fighting what I’m sure was a modern strain of the Black Death when my ex-boss called. She expected me to volunteer because my replacement cancelled, even though I didn’t work there anymore.

Suppose your old job demanded that you return whenever an employee was unavailable.

In my thirties, I’d respond “that sounds like a you problem.” However, in my twenties, I genuinely wanted to take another one for the team. Luckily for future me, I was at the “Here’s my computer password; Call my mom if I die” phase of a two-week illness.

My ex-boss ended our call without wishing me good health. Before I repositioned myself under the covers, my roommate’s phone rang. That shiesty woman offered them twenty dollars for the job they had just begged me to do for free.

Shout out to Jacob, the patron saint of young professionals hoping to negotiate favourable work contracts.

Award-winning Caribbean comedian, Onicia Muller’s weekly humour column, Just Being Funny is chicken soup for the naive sceptic’s soul. You can hire her to write anything from blogs and newsletters to bathroom poetry funny greeting cards. Join her newsletter for funny stories and stand-up comedy.

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

About the author

Onicia Muller