As I'm writing this, I'm teaching my intern Mark how to solder cables back together. He's playfully trying not to burn his fingers, and I'm certain I've instilled the right amount of fear into him to keep him from burning down the studio... or, at least I hope I have.
He was especially excited about how instantaneous the solder melts into a deadly yet useful liquid form. And there goes all the fear. In a moment of coolness Mark had forgotten about all the fear of getting hurt or of melting something he shouldn't.
That's reason #1 I wanted to work with him. His lack of fear qualities without any sense of recklessness. The other was demeanour.
Like most 17 year olds, Mark's a little too obsessed with his phone, and yet he has a calm, comforting sense about him. It's obvious he listens when spoken to and patient dealing with people. At the same time, he shows this tightly controlled excitement and love of recording and audio.
Mix that all together and he's an obvious choice to hang around us at the shop.
Except, at half our age he's got a lot of catching up to do...
Let's begin with coffee. It is an unwritten rule that engineers drink coffee... some even take it intravenously... or they would if they could. Our intern Mark had never really had coffee. Didn't know what was good about it. Didn't know how to make it. Didn't really think about it.
At first we decided it would be a great gag to have an intern who didn't know how to make coffee. Something we could tease him about. Something we could joke about with clients. But then we decided we wanted him to make coffee.
- Filter in
- Grounds in
- Water in
- Pot in
- Turn it on
Almost a look of fear crossed his face when we told him to do it. But up he jumped and walked over to the coffee pot. He grabbed the pot, filled it up in the sink, and preceded to try to pull the machine apart looking for somewhere to dump the water.
"What do I do now?" he asked.
After a few minutes of mocking him, a thought occurred to me...
Each of us fear what we don't know until we reach a point where the fear just goes away... Maybe that takes us years, maybe that takes something cool to happen. Whatever it is, coffee eventually tastes good and burning yourself seems like a small risk compared to watching things melt.
Or at least for some people.