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Sometime early in your internship, a large, doughy white male whom you have never met will plop a giant pile of shit disguised as paperwork on your desk and mutter some incomprehensible instructions as he ambles away.

That would be your boss.

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You may not have met him during the selection process because he was so busy advancing his plot to take over the world that he couldn’t waste time feigning interest in you. Or the person in charge of interns may have made a strategic decision to keep him out of sight so as not to scare off good prospects.

If the boss doesn’t approach you in the first few days, don’t worry, he’ll be pretty easy to spot. When the boss is in the middle of the room blowbagging about some matter of no consequence, all the employees will be absolutely rapt, jackknifing with glee at his every utterance. When the boss is not around, he will be referred to generically as “that asshole.”

When that asshole deigns to speak with you, you can assume his every word, especially the ones he insists are gospel truth, is state-of-the-art prevarication. Success in Washington’s business and government culture requires a euphemistic elegance that puts people in charge who are incapable of actually saying what they mean. It’s a highly adaptive skill set in the executive suite, but when you the intern are sentenced to only three months in the boss’s presence, it’s a little difficult to read between the lies. That’s why Washington City Paper has decided to come up with a glossary of boss-speak that will help you hit the quicksand running, confident that when your supervisor tells you one thing, you can do another.CP