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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"I don't want new people"

It's that time of year again. Time to interview applicants for the Project Bow Summer Internship. I have to go over their documents and set up phone interviews and read between the lines and make some kind of gut level assessment. There are the things they say, but just as important are the things they don't say. There are the things I can ask them, and the things it is better not to ask.

Even though our internship program has gotten us some wonderful people to work and play with over the years, Bow and I are always a little on edge while it is all in suspense. Who will come? Will we like them? Will they like us? Will they stay for the whole period, or will their "grandmother" mysteriously become ill, requiring them to make a hasty departure? Will we click? Will they judge us and find us wanting?

Anybody who volunteers is bound to be a good person, because there is no pay involved and no reason to come help us, unless they really care. But even good people can have disagreements, and, besides, the biggest unresolved issue in human relations is: what does it mean to be good?

Not everyone who loves chimpanzees agrees on what is best for them. Some of the biggest areas of disagreement are between people who care. The last thing we need is an animal rights activist intent on "liberating" Bow. So I have to be very careful when making my selection.

Lawrence came over today to watch Bow, while I ran errands. I mentioned that I was interviewing people this week. "Oh. What does Bow think about that?" he asked.

"I don't. We haven't discussed it."

While I was gone, Lawrence asked Bow what he thought about the interns. Bow spelled: "I don't want new people."

He never wants new people, and he can be mean and conniving when they first come. But with most of our interns, once the ice has melted, Bow is quite attached to them and very sorry to see them go.

Accepting new people into our lives means taking a chance. It's usually well worth it. But right at first, it's hard to trust somebody new.

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