The Air Was Filled With Laughter: A Letter to Our Fall Interns

2019-08-25 07:25:39.000 – Anna Smith, Summit Intern Graduate


The air was filled with laughter. One last shift change for this set of interns and honestly, it was probably my favorite yet. We were bouncing around the agenda, getting through the important details while trying not to dissolve into laughter amidst flying squirrel jokes, Jay zoning out in his preparation to go to bed before his night shift, and Marty just being weird. Finally Rebecca begins to take out mail from the WDC, and to my surprise, I have a letter. Very confused (who would write to me here? And from Michigan??) I opened it and attempted to skim as I listened to the closing remarks, but the skimming soon ended as I realized this wasn’t just a notice, but a true letter signed and sealed.

It was a response to one of my posts in the Observer’s Comments. The author told me a bit of his backstory with the mountain, then mentioned how much he appreciated my writing, both content and style. It reminded me of how much more it means to work at the observatory than just to observe and keep a record going. With each tour, each message, each Edutrip we try to share the experience, not just to be informative. Here, we are trying to either bring about an interest or keep that fascination alive.

From this, I decided to write a letter myself.

Dear Future Intern,

You’ll hear this many a time I’m sure, but welcome to the Obs. I hope you are ready for some fun, some weird, a lot of crazy, and more often than not, clouds and westerly winds. If you can handle the long workweek and enjoy the extremes, I can’t tell you how wonderful the experience will be. Mount Washington is like no place I’ve been before, and the people there… well let me put it this way.

Down in the valley there are numerous helpful hands ready to point you the right direction with finances (Brenda, you’re amazing), research (thanks for summer research part 2 Eric and Ken), outreach (Will, you deserve an award for how you answered the phone during that Edutrip), education (sorry for infinite emails Brian, but thanks for making it work in the end), and IT (as John put it in his parody to Nickleback’s “Rockstar”, “Everbody’s got IT on speed dial…” but Keith and Pete manage to make it work). Tying it all together is Rebecca, the Summit Operations Manager. She’s at every shift change, always has a helpful hand ready, and is on top of things as much as someone in such a dynamic place can be. Oh, and she occasionally comes up to help for a shift when someone else can’t stay the entire time; be sure to ask about radio commercials and The Wednesday Song. You won’t regret it.

You’ll only see the other shift during shift change most likely, and I definitely tried to make the most of it. They’re a good crew, wonderfully and ridiculously fun to be around, and can sometimes provide a different set of skills, perspectives, and of course tall tales than you’re used to. Every shift change winds up being a mini family reunion, but much less painless I guarantee.

And as for your shift… Volunteers change every week, but that just makes every week that much more enjoyable. It means you get to try a new style of cooking, a new type of involvement, and new sets of eyes every shift. I got to meet so many amazing people just through the volunteer program itself. If you are as lucky as I am, each week will be an adventure and uniquely awesome in its own right.

For the end of the season during which the Obs is open, I’m sure you’ll spend some time in the museum with Nikki. Should be less busy, but you two will get in the flow of things, maybe jam out to some pretty good music on occasion, stand speechless with the insanity that can sometimes occur, and I’m sure share more than one laugh. Nikki and the Director of the Museum, Sam, are always there when you stand bewildered at the register, know exactly what to say when something gets messed up, and manage to run a hectic place efficiently and smoothly. They both can teach a lot, and have many stories to tell so best to listen closely.

And I wish you could have met Emma and John, two phenomenal members of the crew. Being in the same bunk, Emma dealt with my early morning alarms, occasional in-room core workouts, and evening venting on the occasional rough day. Thankfully you’ll be free of that mess, but I hope you do meet some fun characters that you can share a lot of laughs and confusion with. Being exhausted in the museum at the end of the day definitely led to some of our most interesting moments… but I’ll never forget em. In addition to inspiring me to hike faster (30-minute miles maximum), John dealt with my insane need to nail every detail down during our research project, constant commenting on Google Docs instead of just fixing the sentence, among other things. We rarely had the same ideas, and became more thorough and creative because of it. One thing I will suggest: never be afraid to bounce ideas off of others or ask questions. You usually wind up throwing your hands up in the air, sometimes because you don’t know what else to do, but other times with a fist in the air like you’re starring at the end of The Breakfast Club. That’s a good feeling. Almost as good as dancing around the museum together when cleaning up but I digress.

And to celebrate those moments with you of course are the observers themselves. I wish I got to hang with AJ as long as you will be able to… he is amazing and one of the greatest Marty whisperers I know. He’s also got some interesting Obs stories to tell, being there so long beforehand. Calm, cool and collective, he makes mornings chill and afternoons relaxing. His star facial expression is definitely something I’m going to miss, and his kindness will be missed even more. He definitely helped me understand me how wonderful fog can be, even with the missed views (fog ob = observer’s best friend).

Ryan, the night observer, is one of Marty’s best friends by trade, and has been at the Obs longer than anyone else on the shift. He has a good deal of advice worth noting, and somehow manages to be relatively chill at 4 am. His photographs are stellar, and his stories are just as good (ask him about Bunk A I dare you). If you can find a way to hide a cucumber in one of the main drawers for him to find for me, that would be appreciated. No questions asked please.

And really try not to ask questions too often on the 45 when Tom is supposed to do the ob. Yes, AJ is there now, but can we afford the off chance of breaking the record? Not really… But if not taking observations Tom is always there to help. He will answer your inquiries, check forecasts again and again, and lend an ear to any concerns you may have. While making sure that work is getting done, he also looks to make sure that you are staying sane and taking enough deep breaths so that you get through each week happily. There’s a minor addiction to seltzer and the Electric Field Meter, but hey, who doesn’t love bouncing around the room with Electric Field Meter signals lightening? Terrifying? Maybe. Still awesome? You bet. $20 says you’ll be just as excited if not more.

You have a lot ahead of you and I’ve probably already kept you too long. Just know I’m so excited for you, can’t wait for you to meet the new fam, and wish you the best… though you’ll probably get it whether I wish it or not.




Anna Smith, Summit Intern Graduate

Find Older Posts