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Behind the Scenes

Intern Net #4: A Confession And A Farewell

The first and last time Kate participated in Sandwich Monday.

hide captionThe first and last time Kate participated in Sandwich Monday.

NPR

Sadly, as the seasons come and go, so too must interns.

I'll miss working at Wait, Wait. I'll miss refusing to participate in Sandwich Mondays and helping Carl record voicemail greetings for winning contestants. I'll miss holding 15-minute interviews with Bluff-the-Listener experts when all I need is a 10-second clip (because what NPR intern doesn't pretend to be Terry Gross when she finds herself alone in a sound booth?) I'll miss Mike and Ian's elaborate high-fives, and I'll miss moments like when Peter expressed his doubts about covering last week's story about Oxford University investigating the Sasquatch.

Peter: But Sasquatch doesn't exist. How can anyone know what to test for? How can you believe this? How do you know?

Ian: Because I interned for him.

Peter: You interned for Big Foot?

Mike (assuming a growling Big Foot voice): Ian, fax this over to the Loch Ness Monster and Yeti for me. And get me a non-fat frappachino on your way back from lunch. Please.

It's been great. But before I sign off for good, I have a confession. It begins with Mike's silver mug — a small stainless steel cup he uses everyday and carries with him everywhere: to meetings, to the bathroom, etc. I've never seen him use any other mug, and on Tuesday, March 20, 2012, he left it unattended on the office's kitchenette counter.

I recognized this for the opportunity it was.

A half hour later, Mike came in, holding his mug. I was wearing headphones but turned the volume down so that I could listen to his reaction without giving myself away.

"Someone put milk in my cup." Mike announced. His tone was equal parts confusion, amusement, and disgust. "This is so weird."

Emily got up to take a look. She, too, voiced concern tinged with amusement. "Maybe it was an accident?" she offered.

"It's too weird," Mike replied. "I just don't get it. Someone put milk in my cup. Who would do this to someone else's mug?"

Peter, Eva and Ian got up to peer into the cup as well. "Gross," they said.

"I got milked!" Mike cried, now indignant. "Someone milked me. Someone just milked me! Who would do this?"

Without knowing he'd done it, Mike christened a prank that would last the remainder of my internship. I began logging all the times I milked Mike Danforth.

March 20: "Milking" is born.

March 22: Mike leaves his mug on the conference table. I take the mug to the kitchen and fill it with milk without anyone noticing. When Mike comes back to get his mug, he sees what's happened. "Ugh. I just got milked again! But this time it's warm! It's like someone microwaved milk and put it in my cup. Who has time to do that?"

March 26: Mike is guarding his cup more than usual lately, holding it close to his chest. However, in a post-lunch haze, he slips up and leaves it at his desk for a few minutes. I make my move. "Milked again! And it's warm again!" He walks past me on his way to dump it out. "I just want to know who's doing this."

March 30: While working on my first blog post, I ask Ian if I should include milking Mike as one of the entries. "You're the one milking Mike?" I nod. "Don't tell anyone," he advises. "Play it out as long as possible. And Intern? ... I'm proud of you."

March 31: One of the station managers stops by Mike's cubicle and they chat in the hall for a few minutes. I manage to take the mug and fill it up without being seen but find Mike sitting back at his desk when I return. I do a 180 and, hiding the mug at my side, take a long, loop around the office to approach Mike's desk from the opposite entrance. I place the cup on a nearby filing cabinet and keep walking. Top that, Danny Ocean. [Ed. note: We, too, find this to be a weird reference. But that's our Kate.]

April 13: Today I milk Mike but get no response. Instead, Mike gets up to empty out his cup without saying a word, making the prank significantly less fun.

April 27: He breaks! Mike quietly walks into the desk area carrying his milked mug and pointedly dumps the contents into Ian's water bottle while Ian's away from his desk. Clearly he suspects Ian. When Ian gets back, he's not pleased to see that he's been milked, so I dutifully report that I saw Mike do it.

May 23: It's the last week of my internship. I get into the office early and see Mike's mug as I walk past his desk. I fill it up one last time. When Mike gets in he brings his mug to the conference table where we're about to have a meeting. "I'm still getting milked," he says, almost to himself. "And it's warm. It's always warm."

Mike,
I'm sorry to have to tell you like this, but I'm the Milker.

To Everyone at Wait, Wait,
Thank you all for everything.

Your intern,
Kate

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