Money College: My perilous life as an unpaid intern

college intern
college intern

"Uh, sir? I'm sorry, but your card has been declined."

It's a phrase I've grown all too familiar with. This time, I'm in 7-Eleven, and I've just suffered the indignity of having my debit card turned down over the purchase of a 99-cent Slim Jim beef stick. My brain pleads for me to walk away, mutter something about the unreliability of modern banking institutions and save a shred of dignity. My stomach, however, gurgles a warning that things are about to get worse.

I realize how hungry I am, and, bolstered by the certainty that my fridge contains nothing but Miller High Life and condiments, I grab one of the meager 25-cent rods of beef cowering next to my original foot-long prize. "Can you try it with this one?" I ask.

A second swipe of the card, and an agonizing pause.

"Um, OK. That worked."