With the recent turbulence in the economy, we sat down with the head of our carpool for some Q&A to discuss recent changes.
Q: Good morning, Mr. Bernicki?
A: Call me Frank. During carpool, I’m just one of the guys.
Q: Yes, sir, Frank. We asked for this Q&A because there’s been some grumbling about carpool.
A: Can’t imagine why. Not all interns get to ride to work in the boss’s SUV, you know.
Q: You remind us every day, Frank. Do you think $7 per ride is a little steep, considering the state of the economy?
A: I’m sure my normal carpool members would be happy to be in your positions, paying $7 to commute to jobs in the city. Unfortunately, they were laid off last month, which was why these seats opened up for you interns.
Q: As you know, Frank, we live in the city. We have to take a train out to the suburbs, then a bus to your place, because you insist we carpool every day. Do you feel perhaps these dues are unfair to those of us who live within walking distance of work?
A: Unfair is when college buddies you’ve carpooled with for 20 years, who know the lyrics to every Eagles song ever made, are suddenly out of work. Unfair is when you are stuck in gridlock by yourself, 90 minutes both ways, with nothing but the woman’s voice on the Garmin to keep you company.
Q: Can we at least walk to work on Fridays?
A: I didn’t buy a 2007 Chevy Suburban, at 13.7 miles per gallon, so my interns could walk.
Q: This is an unpaid internship. How do you expect us to afford carpool dues?
A: That’s why I started the scholarship program.
Q: Isn’t the scholarship program just a pit stop at gas stations? You make us wear helmets, pile out, gas up the SUV, wash windows, check tires.
A: I’m trying to make carpool enjoyable, affordable, and exciting. And you interns have to get that time down to a respectable minute 45 if one of you hopes to win the carpool scholarship.
Q: Going forward, will you be waiting until we’re all inside before squealing away?
A: That only happened once. And Smitty was dragging that day.
Q: Does it ever bother you that you left him there at the Sunoco instead of driving him to the emergency room?
A: Ever heard of global warming? We can’t take indulgent trips in the SUV every time someone breaks a femur.
Q: Last week, you used carpool dues to buy your friends Knicks tickets. You specifically said carpool dues were only for gas, car washes, chrome rims, and your morning coffee and doughnuts. How can you justify gifts, Frank?
A: They lost their jobs. The tickets were to cheer them up. And call me Mr. Bernicki. You just lost music privileges, smart guy.
Q: When you get angry, you make us wear earmuffs, or you threaten our window privileges, or you sing “Hotel California” at the top of your lungs.
A: “And in the master’s chambers they gathered for the feast!”
Q: Moving on, will you be addressing concerns that you forced us to siphon gasoline out of your co-workers’ vehicles?
A: Don’t know anything about it.
Q: I’m speaking, of course, about Tuesday. You gave us ski masks and hoses. You showed us a PowerPoint presentation in the conference room on how to siphon gasoline out of the Prius owned by Mr. Hemley in marketing. Any of this ring a bell?
A: Hemley drives a hybrid, that wuss. And when the stock market sucks out 70 percent of your 401(k)‘s worth, and you’re looking at another 20 years of carpooling every morning and night, you have to pinch pennies if you ever hope to retire.
Q: What if we refuse to siphon gasoline until our concerns are addressed?
A: Fine by me. But I’d hate to be kicked out of an internship in this job market.
Q: I think that just about concludes Q&A. Thanks for sitting down with us.
A: Always glad to help. I’m exiting for gas. Pump 2 is open. Everyone, put on your helmets and look alive out there today.