The Intern Chronicles: Quest for the Vape
Heading into my first internship, I wasn’t exactly sure what challenges laid ahead at The Buzz Magazines. Plenty of writing, certainly, and perhaps some rushed coffee-making for my superiors - you know, the stereotypical “intern” labor (as it turned out, no coffee-making was in store). I was not prepared, however, to undergo a day-long quest around the greater Houston area in search of an elusive e-cigarette. Expect the unexpected, they say.
I had always been under the impression that a good portion of the photographs featured in The Buzz were stock images of some sort, but apparently that isn’t the case. Rather, the small team aims to photograph and edit all of their own content, thereby featuring local Buzz-area residents and maintaining the magazine’s unique home-grown feel. And, while this is undeniably an admirable path to take, it can create its share of challenges and panic-filled mornings. Which brings us to vaping.
In the August issue, Buzz writer Michelle Casas Groogan wrote a piece titled The Vape Debate: E-Cigarettes Target New Generation. The story explores the modern, teen-centric vape culture and the various dangers and challenges it presents. Highlighted in this article was a specific king of e-cigarette known as a Juul, a tiny, flash drive-looking thing that’s apparently all the rage with the kids these days. Naturally, it seemed logical to include a picture of a Juul so that parents and their children could better identify them, but no one in the office had one in their possession. Buzz publisher Michael Hoffman bravely ventured out to a smoke shop to purchase a Juul of his own for the photoshoot, but the cashier informed him that not only were they fresh out of the tiny contraptions, but every shop in the Houston area was experiencing a similar shortage.
“I’m pretty sure some of my friends have those things,” I piped up, eager to help. There seemed to be no better option at this point, so I sent a couple text messages and awaited a response, completely unprepared for the brief but bizarre adventure on which I was about to embark. “Mine has stickers on it, so it’ll be easily-identifiable,” said the first response. Yet, willing to assist in any way she could, my friend suggested another individual whose Juul lacked any identifying marks. Great, I thought. Easy. I gave her a call, and she seemed relatively inclined to give hers up for the next 15 hours, so I told her I’d be happy to drive to her house later that day to pick it up.
As I was just about to get in the car, things fell apart. She was stressed, she informed me, and didn’t feel comfortable giving me her Juul right now. Thankfully, she also pointed me in the direction of another friend who she felt may be more prepared to help me out. I immediately contacted her, but was promptly met with a response explaining how she’d love to help, but unfortunately could not locate her Juul at this point in time. Watching my chances begin to fade, I pressed harder, calling a friend of hers who may be able to provide some insight into the legitimacy of this story. Sensing my frustration (something wholly out of character for me), an exasperated voice eventually informed me, “She’s had it with her this whole time.”
This stunning realization marked the onset of the Begging Stage. I would barely even touch it, I promised her, and wouldn’t even need to put it in my mouth for the photoshoot - her Juul would be free of Trevor germs. Sensing her reluctance, I pressed further, practically on my knees, swearing up and down that I would personally deliver it to her the second we finished the photoshoot. Sensing my desperation (and, in all likelihood, eager for me to stop pestering her), she gave in. We would meet at my house in half an hour, she said. I thanked her profusely until she hung up.
And with that, my journey came to an end. She arrived in my driveway, promptly produced the tiny e-cigarette from her purse, and drove off. I looked down at the Juul, running its matte black frame through my fingers. Frankly, in person, it was extremely underwhelming - if I hadn’t known better, I’d have assumed it was a $7.95 USB stick from Walgreens. Nevertheless, I gingerly placed it in my laptop bag, sent my friend a few more overwrought messages of thanks, and headed upstairs to get some much-needed, vape-free sleep. Journalism is serious business.
Read The Vape Debate: E-cigarettes target new generation by Michelle Casas Groogan.
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