Have you ever felt happy and guilty at the same time? Well, I had such a singular experience last weekend and I'm penning(rather typing) it down before it wears off.
Last weekend, the company that I was interning with hosted an intern event. The event itself was cool with only us in a large and scenic park and two bands playing for us. But the coolest things were just before and after the event. We were asked to take the bus from the company to the park and there were loud grumbles from the interns(around 1000 of us, some even flown from different parts of the country) as it was a Friday evening. If you had lived anywhere in the US, especially in any of the major cities, then you would have a really good idea as to how clogged the roads become on a Friday evening when the entire college crowd tries to hit the downtown and the hot spots. It was no wonder that we complained as well. But our complaints were to no avail. So, all of us got into some 20 or so buses and we were on road after ten minutes.
That was when I felt that something was different! We were on highways and freeways and there were no cars on our side of the lane. That was freaking unnatural, simply because cars are the most common mode of transport in US. Then we saw cops before and after our bus. Finally, realization dawned on me that we had police escorts and that they had stopped the traffic on the freeways and highway. I saw long lines of cars waiting at the intersection allowing us to pass and that was a unique experience. I have NEVER seen such a thing happen, especially in US. In India, I have waited a couple of times for certain VIPS(read, CM or Governor or XYZ) to cross and have always been furious as to how much time is wasted because of it. But for it to happen in US? I haven't even heard one so far. So, the entire incident was freaking and I couldn't stop feeling happy that I was also a VIP(albeit for a day) and got the same welcome as a Governor would. It was so ingrained in me that only VVIPs get such a treatment and the fact that Microsoft did exactly that sent a message that we were VIPs for them. But when I heard on the radio that the traffic on I-5(the highway on which we went) was gridlocked, I couldn't help feeling guilty at having wasted the time of thousands of others who were waiting for us to pass on a friday evening. Hence, the story of feeling happy and guilty at the same time.
Though I wouldn't want it to happen because it was a waste of money and effort and others' time, it left a part of me feeling different. Imagine thousands of people waiting for you. A friend of mine put it succinctly, "I have never felt so important in my life before". This statement from a person who has finished in the top five in India, went to one of the top three universities(in US) for college and is working at Microsoft for X years gave the incident a different view. Though money and education are important, everyone craves for some recognition and larger the mass recognizing/respecting you, the better you feel. So, Microsoft DOES pamper its interns. For more info, check this link.
About the coolest thing after the event, I got an amazing gift from my company. It was all the more sweet because I truly needed it and it came at the right time :) And the entire show was supposed to be a replacement for another big event(yes, you guessed it right, Bill's Grill party), a returning intern said that it was better than the Bill's Grill. The fact that I was among the first batch of interns to have received this attention(escorts and all) makes me feel all the more special. So, if you want to intern somewhere really cool and really awesome, do check out Microsoft. Because, they DO pamper their interns. :)