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I get complaints for this, so before we start:
This is a slow-building story with no sex so skip now if that’s not your thing.
The A-train zoomed up the track as I stood smashed between a throng of countless people. I couldn’t believe how many people willed their way to fit in this single train car. When we finally reached my stop, Columbus Circle, I was relieved to wiggle my way to the door and out into freedom. I climbed the stairs into the light and looked around for my building.
I was a brand new intern at an ad agency in New York City. I’d never been east of Texas before, and certainly never lived in a place like this. It was sure to be an exciting summer and I was eager to broaden my horizons.
My building was on Columbus Circle, adjacent to the south side of Central Park. On the 16th floor we had balconies that overlooked the vast, green park and I was sure I’d sit there any chance I could. Intern life was good and bad. It was my first real experience in beginning any sort of career. We got to work on cool projects and meet lots of people. But, it was easy to feel unimportant. Our agency had 80 summer interns working minimum wage and getting the chance to learn the ropes. I usually felt like “one of the interns.” We were overlooked and ignored by most but there were exceptions. Our coordinator was awesome and a couple of the people on my team were always willing to help me. But I was a little fish in a vast ocean of sharks and whales.
After a week of orientations and introductions, we had a meeting for the executives and the interns. They were going to address us and impart their wisdom and share their stories of achieving such success. All of us lowly interns sat like a good audience and listened as they shared what we needed to do to follow in their footsteps. One day, if we were as creative and industrious as them, we too could become sharks. I listened intently, but with a fervent belief that their success had more to do with luck and privilege than hard work or ingenuity. I did, however, look at them with fixated stares as I studied them – their clothes, their mannerisms, their hair, their shoes, their belts. They certainly looked and dressed the part.
I particularly stared at one – Robert Barton, the CEO. I was hidden amongst the crowd of interns and didn’t bother hiding my stares. I didn’t have a great view from near the back of the crowd but from a distance he looked incredible. He was built powerfully despite being overweight, and his hair was neat and grey. He was clean shaven and dressed to impress in his nice suit and tie. His white shirt hugged his belly nicely and I was hoping for a chance at a closer look. But he was top shark, and I knew I’d have as much chance of meeting the mayor.
At the end of their little speech, we were informed that they were excited to attend our pitch meetings, which made me suddenly nervous. As part of our internship, we had been grouped into teams of five and assigned a brand for which we were to design a campaign. They were real clients, and there was potential our work would actually be used, but for the most part it was kind of like a semester-long school project. But now it felt more real. Our team would actually have to present to the company’s top executives in two weeks.
After our meeting with the executives, we met with our teams to discuss the project briefly and make a timeline before 5pm rolled around and we were free to leave.
I hurried home to meet my roommate Dave and grab dinner. Dave and I only knew each other a week, but we were fast friends and bonded over sports. Our favorite basketball team had a game and we met at our favorite wing spot to watch. We were also both new to the city and spent the weekends exploring all the things to see and do in the Big Apple. We shared a room meant for one, in an apartment meant for three that housed six of us. It was cramped but pretty cozy, and necessary for us all to split the outrageous rent. Most of what we did was free and most of what we ate was budgeted. We were college students, so we were used to it. Plus, summer in New York City offered plenty of opportunities for us. There were free concerts, street performers, street art, pop-up events and all of the classic tourist spots. Our list of things to do was endless and as sometimes insignificant the internship seemed, our life after work was always fun and exciting.
After a weekend spent exploring Brooklyn – the bridge, the East River, downtown, and a free concert in a park – it was back to Columbus Circle. When we met each day in our internship teams, we started to work with more urgency. We had to present our research, strategy and creative outline for our campaign in just two weeks. My team was assigned to work on a pitch for Play Doh. It was an interesting brand but it was a challenge thinking of how to market a kid’s toy. This uncertainty caused us to fall behind and we decided as a team to start coming in an hour early for the canlı bahis şirketleri next week. We were only scheduled to meet an hour a day to work on the project and had normal “jobs” the rest of the day. So we decided we needed more time and to begin coming in early to catch up. I am not a morning person, so I was pretty miffed about having to wake up even earlier than I already was.
One good thing that came of it was apparent the next day when I descended the Subway steps, scanned my pass and waited for the next A-train. There were significantly less people waiting for the train. As the train arrived and the doors opened, a couple of us shuffled in and took seats. It was relaxing to not be crammed in and even have my own seat for the first time on my morning commute. Then, the next morning, something exciting happened. As the car doors opened and I took a seat in the open car I looked around at the dozen other passengers and saw Robert Barton sitting in my car. He was as sharp as ever in a nice suit and tie and his gaze was solely focused on this morning’s newspaper. I thought that seemed so old-fashioned and almost endearing. I hated how our journalism industry has mostly devolved into clickbait social media “news.” Since he was so focused on the paper, I again took no effort to be discrete in my staring as I admired his clothes and his body. I was starting to get excited which made me embarrassed. I’ve always been very shy. I stopped staring to prevent any bulging in case anyone else was looking at me and might notice. Plus, the paper covered much of his face so I still couldn’t admire his face. As we reached our stop, I followed him out the door and lagged behind him. I thought it would seem weird if I just followed him all the way to the office. I let him get about ten yards ahead before following at a distance and admiring him as he walked ahead, up the stairs and across the block from the station to our building door. I knew we’d soon reach the elevator and debated whether or not I dared to enter the same one as him. I wanted to see his face so I decided to follow him into the elevator. He nodded and gave a half smile as I got in and then looked at his phone. I couldn’t believe how attractive he was. Alone with him in the elevator, I had to be careful not to stare but my eyes were magnetically drawn to his face. He had kind, chestnut brown eyes and slightly chubby cheeks. His gray hair was receding and neatly styled. He looked so sharp and distinguished. I knew he didn’t have the slightest clue who I was or even if I worked for his company because there were several companies working in this massive 26-story building. I got off on my floor without a word and left him to rise a couple more floors, no doubt to a more exclusive floor of the building, where the sharks’ offices were located. I knew this was going to be a difficult summer lusting after the most powerful and unobtainable man in my office.
The following morning, I descended to my train station again and waited anxiously for the train, hoping he would somehow be in my car again. The train doors opened and I stepped in to see a handful of strangers. No sign of Robert Barton.
Thursday and Friday, I repeated the routine of waiting for the A-train and hoping to be in the same car as Mr. Barton. But I never saw him. Meanwhile, at work, our Play Doh campaign was coming along. We were putting a campaign together about making parents feel like kids again and it was easy to be creative when your brand is a colorful clay. I was proud of what our team had made and was getting excited to present. My other work as a strategy intern was also going well. I was starting to get close to my team members and they were starting to involve me more as I gained their trust. I was always the first one to the office now that our team was meeting early. I’d usually head to my desk around 7:45 now that we weren’t behind on the project anymore and would greet everyone as they came in. The way things were going, I decided I would keep coming in an hour early for the rest of the summer even though our Play Doh team wasn’t meeting early anymore. Maybe, the dwindling hope of finding the CEO in my train car had something to do with it, too.
And Tuesday morning, I did run into him again. There he sat in a grey suit and blue tie with the Times open again. I sat a little closer this time to get a better view as I stared at his body. I was prepared with a bag this time to cover my crotch as I stared at my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss. My eyes ran over his entire body as a tent formed in my pants beneath my bag. I knew he wasn’t looking and was still confident he had no clue who I was despite being in the elevator alone with him the week before. Again, I lagged behind him and followed him up to the office and into an elevator. This time, he saw me push 16 and remarked with surprise “you must be an intern!” I was frozen with fear and barely stammered a reply.
“Y..yes sir, how did you know?”
He held out his hand and answered that he knew canlı kaçak iddaa everyone that worked at his agency so I must have been brand new or an intern and given they had 80 interns, it was a safe guess. I shook his hand and introduced myself. He introduced himself as well and remarked “you’re very early.”
“Our intern team is trying to get extra time together for our pitch.” I replied, trying to give credit to my whole team more out of shyness than humility.
“That’s impressive! I’m excited to see what you guys come up with on Friday.”
The bell dinged as we reached floor 16 and I thanked him and exited towards my desk. I couldn’t stop thinking how impressive it was that he knew everyone that worked at the agency other than the interns. There must be 150 people on my floor alone.
The next day he was in my car again. Suddenly the excitement turned to nervousness as I knew he was now aware of who I am. I decided to fight any awkwardness by simply saying “Good morning.”
He looked up and returned the sentiment. “It was Chris, right?”
“That’s right, Mr. Barton.”
“Please, call me Rob.” He smiled and it melted my heart. His face was so beautiful and he came across as so warm and friendly. I believed it was genuine, too.
I took a seat and he returned to his newspaper. I glanced at him occasionally, but busied myself with my phone to not get in any trouble staring. As we reached our stop, we stood and started towards the door.
“After you,” he smiled and stood aside a little to let me pass first. He followed me up the stairs and across the block to our building and I held the door for him, he thanked me, I and followed him to the elevator. As we settled in an elevator he pushed both 16 for me and 18 for himself.
“How’s the project coming along?” He asked.
“It’s going pretty well, I think.” In my head I started berating myself for such a timid, uninteresting response. I was so shy, I never knew what to say.
“What brand are you working on?” He asked again.
“Play Doh, sir.”
“Ah, what a fun one! At least it’s not Dulcolax.”
I laughed pretty hard and he chuckled too. There was that warm smile again.
“Is that one of the teams?” I didn’t recall anyone working on that brand.
“No, no. We wouldn’t give that to interns. They’d probably change majors the next fall.” He paused before adding, “We have done work for them before though.”
The bell dinged and the door opened.
“Have a good day, sir!” I said with a smile as I exited the elevator.
I was in a good mood that morning. I always tried to bring positive energy to work otherwise people don’t like being around you, but this time my good mood was contagiously caught from Rob… I still wasn’t sure I’d be able to bring myself to call him that. My positive mood was passed on to the team as well and my boss even commented about how much they enjoyed having me on the team. Everything was going so well and I was grateful for the internship. I never expected it to be this rewarding even though the pay certainly wasn’t.
Thursday morning came and Mr. Barton was in my train car again.
“Good morning,” I greeted him again.
He looked up and smiled and returned the sentiment. “You sure are dedicated, aren’t you?”
“I’m just having a great experience,” I tried to explain. I really was enjoying it.
“Who is your director?” He asked.
“Ahhh, then you would be, wouldn’t you? She is great.”
“Yeah, and the whole team has been great at getting me involved.”
“Glad to hear it,” he smiled and returned to his newspaper.
We had our customary routine starting to form as he let me exit the train first and followed me to the office door, which I would hold open for him and follow him to the elevator. We would chat for 45 seconds or so until my floor came and I’d leave him to continue up. My crush on him grew stronger every day and I scolded myself for even getting this close to him. He was completely unobtainable and I was just taunting myself and my feelings. I got to my desk and Googled him before anyone else came in. I checked to see if he was married, as if that would change anything about my chances. I couldn’t find any information on his personal life other than that he was 56. There was a bit of information about his professional life. He had been CEO at the agency for over three years now and there were a couple of photos on there for me to lust over in secret outside the office sometime.
Work went well again, though a little bit slowly. In the afternoon, the intern team met for the Play Doh campaign to finalize our presentation for the following day. It was just the first step of the campaign and we were well prepared to share our research, strategy, and creative outline. I left for the day and pulled out my phone on the way to the Subway. I googled Robert Barton and took my time looking at the photos on the web. I settled in the train canlı kaçak bahis and flipped back and forth through the five photos. One caught my attention where he stood in a suit among several other businessmen and his pants seemed to bulge just a bit. I zoomed in and took a closer look at what looked like a tent forming in his crotch. My mind went wild thinking what might have excited the friendly, old man. Then I started imagining what he might look like without any of his dapper clothing. I put the bag over my own forming tent and kept flipping through the photos as I rode home. When I got to the apartment I was alone and went to the bathroom to relieve my hard on that was trying to rip out of my underwear.
The next morning he was in my train again. I was embarrassed to see him after getting off to his photos the afternoon before. But then, I remembered I’d be presenting before him and started to get really nervous. We said our good mornings and followed our routine to the office. In the elevator, he asked if I was ready for the presentations.
“I’m pretty nervous, honestly. Any advice?”
“Trust your preparation and don’t worry about us. I know we can be intimidating, but most of our executives are pretty nice and like the internship program. You guys bring youth and energy that we lack and we like to feed off that energy.” He smiled again and even winked and I adjusted my bag to cover myself. He was so handsome and friendly.
“That’s good advice, thanks!”
The afternoon arrived and the interns filed into a big conference room with a large projector screen up front. I was starting to get extremely nervous at having to present. As groups before us presented, the anticipation grew and I started to shake a little in my seat. The presentations were a mixed bag – some were fun and well thought out and some were completely uninspiring. It was our turn to present and I started to feel really anxious. If I didn’t feel I’d be letting my team down, I might have run for it. I took a few deep breaths and closed my eyes and we started. Once it started it was over in a flash. My part was only a few minutes, and while I jumbled over the words, I got through it ok. Our presentation wasn’t as creative as other groups but I was confident in the content. When we finished, I was so relieved I was able to enjoy the rest of the presentations and head home to enjoy another weekend exploring the city with Dave.
Monday rolled around and as I waited for my train I thought why Rob was consistently in the same car as me when initially it was only sporadic. The doors opened and he was there inside again. I said good morning and then asked, “Can I ask you a question, sir?”
“Of course, and please, call me Rob.”
“I don’t know if I can do that, sir. I mean, Rob.”
He smiled and I asked, “Why do you take the Subway to work?”
“It’s the best way to get around,” he said matter-of-factly.
I realized my question may have implied he was too snobbish to ride the Subway. “I just mean, it seems like you could afford better. Sorry,” I immediately apologized. That was even worse.
“I don’t mean to imply that you’re snobby. You don’t give that impression at all, sir. It just seems you reached a point in life we’re you can do better.”
“I think I understand the question. I could get a driver but traffic is outrageous and I just don’t like wasting time or money like that. Fifteen minutes on the Subway and I’m in the office without any fuss. I’ve been in New York a long time now and the Subway is just the best way to get around the city.”
I regretted asking and left him to his paper for the rest of the ride. Maybe I was the snob. I just felt like someone as smart, nice and successful as him didn’t belong in a train running through underground tunnels.
In the elevator he only pushed 18, not the 16 for my floor. “I’m assuming you’re the only one this early and have time to stop by my office first?”
“We really need something else to work. Could you at least try calling me Robert?” He smiled.
I nodded yes.
The door opened after the ding and I followed him to his office. It was so spacious and modern and impressive. His walls were primarily glass windows and his view of Central Park was incredible.
“Wow, this is a great office.”
“Thanks, take a seat.”
I sat in an expensive leather chair and nervously waited. I didn’t think I’d done anything wrong unless he somehow could read my mind and knew I fantasized about him. Yet, I was still nervous.
“You’ve really impressed me, Chris.”
“Thank you, s…” I stopped myself before saying sir.
“We’ve never had an intern come early so consistently. I mean, I don’t think we have many full-time employees who show up when you do. I also talked to Mrs. Fisher and she said you’re a hard worker and they love having you on their team. And your group’s presentation was impressive as well.”
I just half smiled and was grateful for his compliments. I looked into his eyes for a moment and felt like I couldn’t look away. His face was perfect. His body was perfect. I wanted to somehow be with him and this time I didn’t scold myself for the thought. I just indulged the fantasy, impossible as it was.
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