By Shannon Matloob, Senior writer, 17, Beverly Hills HS
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I was super excited to volunteer for three days at the 2008 Los Angeles Film Festival. On my way to Westwood Village, I still couldn’t believe that I’d been selected as an intern for the box office. Thank you, Craigslist and Leti Romero (the person who hired me). I initially wanted the job for the money, prestige on my résumé, and the chance of seeing movie stars, but on my phone interview, I was told that it was an unpaid internship, so I scrapped the idea of making money.

When I arrived at the volunteer booth, a woman gave me my awesome blue L.A. FilmFest T-shirt and sent me over to the box office to talk to Leti about my position. I asked for "Leti Romero," but some guy named Chris said she wasn’t there and asked me who I was. Turns out, I had my own awesome nametag waiting for me on Leti’s desk the whole time. First, Ann (the box office director) and Chris sent me to help Bealene, who was stuffing envelopes with reserved tickets. She was really nice and she wasn’t even pissed when I messed up by putting half of someone’s tickets in an envelope; she showed me what to do and gave me a second explanation. I asked her what her favorite movies were but recognized none of them and I somehow ended up telling her about how my graduation walking partner was Lil’ Romeo. And of course I asked the question I’d been dying to ask since I heard about the job, “So … did any celebrities show up here?”

I found out that Selma Blair was there the night before and Patton Oswalt (the voice of Remy in Ratatouille) would be there the following night. That wasn’t as glamorous as I had hoped; I had expected the name George Clooney to be dropped somewhere in her response. My next task was to file papers and Ann felt really bad giving me that chore because as she told me “we’ve been putting it off for a while now because no one wants to do it.”

Chris stopped me from filing a couple times to send me to other box offices to make a few ticket deliveries. When I came back, this no-nonsense woman, Leti, came in on her phone demanding that someone “go there now” and she hung up, really annoyed. With half an hour left in my shift, Leti asked what I was doing and said I could leave if I wanted to. So I filed a couple more papers and then I left. I felt my first day was successful, a little boring, but successful.

Day 2
My second day was by far the most action-packed of my three-day volunteer gig. As soon as I walked in, Ann and Chris called me over. At first, they looked at each other and were undecided about who should tell me. Ann started. She said, “OK, so we want you to be our spy today.” I was thinking, “what the hell is going on,” but the idea of being a spy seemed intriguing. They explained that they suspected the people working in another box office weren’t really working. Each box office receives a box of reserved tickets from the main box office for people to pick up at showtime. Many times, one of the theater box offices would claim to be missing a few reserved tickets. But when the main box office got the box at the end of the day, all the tickets that were “missing” were in there.

After the explanation I didn’t feel like a spy, I just felt like a helper. They could have said that they needed me to find out what was happening with the reserved tickets instead of exciting me with the spy nonsense. When I got to the box office, the two people in there started talking about how they were going to the red carpet party and possibly the short films that would be playing soon. After about half an hour, the guy working with me said that he was going to watch the movie and that I should count the tickets and the money. He explained the most confusing procedure I’ve ever heard. I was totally lost and said I wasn’t going to do that.

“Well, I’m going to watch the movie so you sort of have to.”

“What if I mess up?” I replied.

“I trust you.” He said.

I said that I was only an intern and he responded with a slap-worthy response, “Well now that’s just not the right attitude.” Then he was gone and the girl working with him left soon after.

I sat there for an hour taking pictures and listening to music. I knew I had to call someone but I didn’t know how to contact my bosses and I didn’t want to go to them in case the two people with whom I was working who left me alone came back and then could deny everything. People kept coming to buy tickets for “the David Cho movie” and I couldn’t find any tickets for that movie so I sent about 30 people to the main box office. The two people finally came back from the movie and I explained how I couldn’t find tickets to sell. One of them pulled out an envelope with tickets in them. “Right, because I was supposed to know that,” I thought.

Then I saw Leti and Chris coming. They were angry and said that dozens of people told them we weren’t selling tickets. I returned to the main box office with Chris and explained what happened while Leti stayed behind to yell at them. Chris looked appalled when I told him how they had left me alone. They were never supposed leave me alone or have me count the money. Leti came back to the main box office and said I was done for the day and thanked me for doing the right thing. I left feeling good about how I handled myself and excited to tell the world about my mission. In the end, I realized I really was a spy and I didn’t enjoy being alone in the box office for hours, but I did enjoy the aftermath. The two balanced out each other.

Day 3
My third day definitely wasn’t as scandalous as my second, but it was my favorite. I got to answer phones the whole day and in between phone calls I’d munch on Cheez-its, cookies, chocolate cake and ice cream, thanks to Chris who kept offering.

The part of my day that I remembered most wasn’t the food, though; I was verbally abused on the phone. This man called and said he was from Sonoma, and I admitted to not being sure where that was. I answered all his questions about ticket prices and show times. Then he said, “Is there anything else I should know?” And I said, “Um… have fun in Sonoma?” He asked if I was from Beverly Hills and I said, “Yeah! How did you know?” And he said he could tell from my superior attitude. I denied that horrible accusation and he said that even though I thought I was being genuine I was really being snotty and what he loved about it was that I had no idea I was doing it. He also said that he could tell I’m a Jewish princess and I just have that “manner” of thinking and behaving beyond my control. He validated his rudeness by saying he used to attend what he thought was my rival school (he’s wrong), Culver City High School and hung up.

I told Leti what had happened and she said I shouldn’t take that crap from anyone and should have hung up. I was really hurt by what he said because I’ve been spending my whole life trying to be the opposite of the stereotypical Beverly Hills girl.

Everyone was really nice (with the exception of two people) and I wish I could go back. I’m definitely glad I took on this opportunity despite the fact that I didn’t see any celebrities or get paid. Not only do I love that I can brag about being a spy for the L.A. FilmFest for the rest of my life, but I also love that I met really great people like Ann, Chris, Leti, Bealene and (most of) the rest of the staff. Interning for the FilmFest box office was such a better use of my first few days of summer—I know I’d have lounged in my bed otherwise.