The Luck of the Badge

21 Mar

It’s really hard to be an Irish girl, with a 9-6 internship at the UN, on the day after St. Patty’s Day.

I think that’s an experience we can all relate to, no?

The thing about a UN internship is that you need a badge to enter the building.

Yes, that is the ONLY thing of note about a UN internship.

(Well, it’s the only UN-related thing I’m allowed to blog about. The rest is top secret. Shhh.)

So, like I was saying: in order to get into the UN, you need a badge. My badge is bright blue and shiny, and it came with a cool lanyard that fits perfectly around my neck without interfering with my various business-chic outfits.

(AKA the one pair of “slacks” that I own and the few “youthful yet appropriate” tops that my mom and I stressfully threw into a cart at TJ Maxx the day before my departure because we (she) decided I couldn’t enter the UN “cleavage-first.”)

Everything about my badge is great…except for the photograph, which looks like I stuck my finger in a light socket, got electrocuted, tried to fix my hair with an abundance of cheap gel, and then decided to go with the flow and hope that my bohemian reputation would back up my “beachy waves with a twist” hairdo.

It didn’t quite work out like that.

Anyway, back to St. Patty’s Day. And to my UN badge. And to explaining how this is all related, I PROMISE.

When I woke up on Tuesday – post St. Patty’s Day funtivities – I first noticed the GIANT, wooden shamrock that had somehow made it onto the wall outside of my room:


Both the origins and the journey of this shamrock were unclear, at best.

How did it get there? Who took it? Was there some sort of payment that took place to obtain it? Had I paid for it?

After all, I did recall having yelled, “Guinness pints on me, bitches, I’M AN IRISH BEER FAIRY!!!” while at the pub the night before…so yeah, I easily could – and would – have purchased a giant shamrock.

(I would later find out that I had not been responsible for the shamrock heist. Which is good, because I don’t need that on my record.)

One would think that those chosen few people who wake up with giant shamrocks in their vicinity are in for a good dose of Irish luck. 

The scene that ensued post-Shamrock sighting was anything but lucky.

After shoving my face with a loaf of bread at breakfast, I headed out for another day at the office.

The bus ride was über rough because I’d managed to get myself squeezed onto the rotating panel part of the bus…so, I was spinning in circles, while wearing heeled booties, and while trying not to hit the old lady next to me with my GIANT bag (inside of which was a rotting apple that I’d consistently forgotten to throw away for a solid week.)

After twenty minutes, Minee – my friend and coworker – and I FINALLY got off of the bus.

AH YES. Fresh air! Sunshine! Solid ground!

I reached into my bag to put on my badge. (I usually wait until I get to work to put it on because I don’t want to be one of those people who bring the office home with them, you know?)   

When I didn’t immediately land on my badge, I felt a surge of panic run through me. Or maybe it was just bus-induced nausea… 

Minee, bless her heart, encouraged me to sit down and take a more thorough look. But I knew it was most likely a bleak situation. 

On the plus side, I located the rotting apple and the exploded package of Nutella that had made a home in the crevices of my bag! 

But, alas, no badge.

Minee took pity on me and said she’d cover for me until I returned.

That was really nice of her, seeing as how it was totally my fault for throwing my badge on my desk like a wreckless youth, and for covering it with a bed of chocolate wrappers and a few gingerly placed Goldfish.

After a second sweaty and slightly nauseating bus ride, I arrived back at my abode, where I located my badge on my desk.

If it had been any bigger, it would have bitten me.

The bus ride back to work was actually quite relaxing! I got a seat! The sun was shining! A 90’s playlist was playing on my iPhone!

And then…


Who, you ask?


This was a horrible situation. Why, you ask? Let me give you a little background on Geneva’s transportation system.

Geneva’s buses and trams are really impressive.

First of all, they’re extremely clean – you never find McDonald’s bags and mysterious needles and wet cardboard strewn about the floor. 

Second, they’re always on time. Unless someone gets hit by a tram. Then, they’re sometimes a minute late.

And third, they’re extremely quiet and peaceful. Seriously, though. If you dare to laugh on a tram or a bus, you will get so many death glares, you’ll think you’ve just eaten a chocolate truffle cake at a Weight Watchers meeting.

The only bad things about this transportation system are the fines. If you get caught on a bus or tram without a valid pass, you will suffer at the mercy of the Geneva transport authorities. 

Luckily for me, the transport office is right near my house. It is sooo easy to walk right in and get a pass! Who wouldn’t just take care of renewing it ASAP?

I think we all know the answer to that question.

Flash-forward to two weeks after my pass has expired and guess who decided to hop on MY bus and to start checking people’s passes, TWO STOPS before I need to get off?

The PO PO.

When I saw the police get on the bus, I felt utter terror.

Quick! If this were a Sandra Bullock action flick and you were a Sandy character, what would you do?

Well, that’s obvious. You’d jump up like a confused and slightly drunk Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em piece and you’d make DIRECT EYE CONTACT with one of the officers.

Damn. It. Crap. Shit. Damn.

“Bonjour, Madame,” said the officer.

“Um, hi,” I said, in the most American way I could muster.

The officer then asked to see my pass, so I pulled out the expired one and decided to try my luck. 

He glanced at it, folded it closed, and then handed it back to… 

Nope, not so fast. Apparently, not even the wiles of Sandy Bullock were enough to distract this guy. He reopened my pass, noted the date, and then started speaking to me in French about passes and fines and floating through outer space and being caught on an unstoppable train and…Just kidding. This isn’t really a Sandy movie.

I pretended not to understand French because I thought my *American charm* would be enough to get him not to give me a ticket.

Turns out, it was only enough to get him to call over the English-speaking officer, who promptly slapped me with an 80 franc ticket, which I didn’t have time to pay on the bus. So, I had to be ESCORTED off the bus by all SIX officers.

The 80-franc fine and the public humiliation were pretty unfortunate…

But the worst part of this situation was that I had been in the middle of a great, highly underrated Alanis Morissette song and had to miss all of it for these ticket shenanigans.


May your 2/3 Irish heritage be luckier for you than it was for me.












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