Wednesday, August 08, 2007

She Works Hard for the Money

And now that I've got you ALL singing that song for the rest of the day...

I am cranky today. There is no specific reason for it, more like a smattering of small reasons, spread out over the last few days, which have now accumulated into a ball of wrath so large that it’ll be amazing if I make it to the end of the week without snapping.

This is mostly work related, although there’s a bit of personal stress involved as well. The personal stuff is nothing major or specific, just a bit of wariness and exhaustion, sprinkled with a dash of loneliness, which is something I don’t usually feel, so it’s throwing me for a bit of a loop.

The work stuff? Well…therein lies the true source of my pissyness.

Seeing as I’ve gotten more personal on this blog lately (I mean, I shared my love of Corey Haim with you all), I think it’s time I introduce you all to the cast of characters that compose the daily workings of The Firm. This way, when I’m having a day like today, where I just want to vent about how INANE and annoying they are being, you’ll be able to better sympathize with me.

Somewhere, inside, in the dark, the firm is listening. – Abby McDeere (The Firm, 1993)

THE FIRM: I work in a law office, as a paralegal. I have been here for 4 years now (last month was my “anniversary), and I actually really do like my job. As far as jobs go, and more importantly, as far as paralegal jobs go, this is not a bad one. I have A LOT of responsibility, client contact, and free reign, and a boss who not only appreciates and values both me and my contribution, but is actually a pretty decent guy. That said, due to some financial issues, The Firm went from being a pretty active “small” firm, with a fun crowd who would have lunch together and have conversations not fit for printing over their frozen dinners, to a quiet “REALLY SMALL” firm, where I eat lunch at my desk, reading a book, and not really talking to anyone all that much. Socially, this isn’t the greatest job. But overall, I’m pretty happy here.

The Boss: He is the lawyer with the name on the letterhead. This place is his livelihood, his baby, his life pretty much. He is a great lawyer, the kind that amazes you with the things he pulls off at times, and a well known one in these parts. He works extremely hard, is always INSANELY busy, and gets things done. He’s also a family guy. He has three kids, each with their own brood of kids, and is a proud grandpa. He runs this place with family in mind. Everyone here takes time off for family related things with no questions asked. It’s that sort of place. And even though I don’t have family of my own, I don’t suffer for that as I have in previous jobs. I need a day off to go to NYC with friends? He tells me to take two. The Boss also gets season tickets to most sports teams in the area, and is generous with all the staff. I’ve seen every local pro-sport team play thanks to him, on his dime. He’s a good guy, a good boss, and I really do enjoy working for him. But he’s also disorganized, overwhelmed and a pain in my arse most days.

The Wife a/k/a Flakey: The Boss’ Wife that is. She started working here about a year after I did. It was to be a temporary arrangement, through the “financial difficulties” we were having, and she supposedly was not to get paid. I’m pretty sure she still does not draw a paycheck, but don’t quote me on that. She took early retirement from another company, so this is her “post-retirement” gig. Now, as far as what her position and duties are here…I can’t really tell you. Not because I don’t want to, but because I have no idea. There is one area she is to focus her work on, but there is honestly not enough business in that area to keep her busy the amount of hours she “works” (please note, I use that word loosely when I refer to most of my co-“workers”). Because she is The Wife, she is usually here after hours, with The Boss, “working” on whatever it is she does. The Wife is one of the nicest people I know. I really do like her, she’s a gem. Unfortunately, she’s also a bit of a space-cadet, and due to that, a lot of the time things fall into her black hole of a desk and/or memory never to be heard from again. This causes a bit of stress for me. She is also the sort of person that is thorough to the point of obsession…in other words, a project that would take me 20 minutes can easily, without exaggeration, take her 20 hours. SERIOUSLY.

The Office Manager a/k/a The Nazi: On the surface, I get along just fine with her. She is a mother of three teenage boys, a nice enough person; we can chat about life and things, and have a pleasant working relationship. Beneath the surface, she is the type of person I would never be associated with in my “real life”. We come from different worlds, and that is the beginning of my issue with her, but there’s a lot more to it than that. She carries within her a certain amount of snobbery that I’m not even sure she is aware of. There is a definite air of superiority, as well as a belief that her perfect kids can do no wrong, and her perfect home in her perfect town, with her perfect neighbors, are what it’s all about. I grew up in the semi-ghetto of this area, which gives me a harder edge than most of my co-workers. My choices, my lifestyle, my friends, and even my family, are not easily understood or accepted in her world. Don’t get me wrong, she’s nice enough to me, and would never admit it to herself, never mind outwardly…but me and my world? We’re a bit beneath her. And at work? She is a micro-managing pain in my ass, and I think she really hates that she can’t manage me as much as she’d like, because The Boss trusts me to know what I’m doing, and gives me freedom to run with it. And as much as she’d like to think otherwise, she can be dumb as rocks at times. That’s not really entirely fair, she isn’t really dumb, just…the best way to put it is to tell you that if I want something done, I do it myself, because it’s just easier than explaining it to her and having to answer endless inane questions. And, like “The Wife” she can turn a simple 20 minute project into an all day affair. There will be lots more on the Nazi in the future, as she is the constant source of my crankiness at The Firm.

The Other Lawyer a/k/a Good Guy: I like Good Guy. He’s new here, only been here about a year. He came in to a serious clean-up situation, with some seriously bad Karma left behind by an incompetent, and LYING lawyer (imagine that?), and has proven himself to not only be intelligent, but really good at what he does. He’s a hard worker, and a good lawyer, and the only other person here who has a clue what’s going on most days. He’s exactly 2 months older than I, married, two little boys, and we get along fabulously. But we’re both usually way too busy for chit-chat during the day. We’re actually WORKING.

The Receptionist a/k/a Sunshine: I love her. I wish she was a full-timer, that’s how much I love her. Sunshine is all of 22 years old, works 9 to 1, and answers phones, handles the mail, and opens the files, all that fun stuff. She is someone I knew before she started working here (I got her the job), and is a hard worker AND a smart cookie. She’s also from “my hood” so she gets me more than anyone else here. We grew up in the same environment. And since she’s young, she’s a party girl, and I love living vicariously through her.

The Daughter a/k/a M.I.A.: This is The Boss’ Daughter, FYI. At one point she was the person who did our billing. But then she went off to have her third child, and then decided she would work one day a week. Supposedly, she works on Fridays. I haven’t seen her in about a month, and week's and week's go by that I don't see her, she is constantly M.I.A.. And “works” is definitely too big a word for it. I’m not entirely sure what it is that she does when she is here. Besides the whispering marathons in the Nazi’s office every Friday morning from about 9:30 (or whenever she strolls in) until about 11:30 or so, and the long lunches with her mother, Flakey, from about 12:00 to 1:30 or so…the remaining hour and a half (because she is usually gone by 3PM) are a mystery to me. The whisper sessions drive me up a wall, because I HATE WHISPERING, and Nazi’s office is right next door to mine, so I hear just enough to know they are whispering, but not enough to know (or care) what they are whispering about. Friday mornings have been dubbed “WhisperDay” and usually find me with my office door slammed shut, and my music on full blast.

There are also two additional characters, both lawyers, both “of counsel” which means they don’t technically work “FOR” our office, but they work on certain cases. They visit periodically, so for the record, we have Pervert, and SourPuss. SourPuss is a female attorney, who is NEVER in a good mood. I think she worked here for at least 3 months before she ever said hello to me. Fortunately, I don’t work in the area of law she does, therefore, don’t really have to interact with her much, so I don’t. Pervert used to share office space with us, but downsized his firm to work out of his home, and therefore is only here now about once a month or so. At the risk of being politically incorrect, he is fat, lazy, and a pervert. Seriously, I’m pretty sure he could pick my breasts out of a line-up, due to the number of conversations he’s had with them, but I can guarantee you he can not tell you the color of my eyes.

So, there you have it. THE FIRM. Now that you know the characters, I can bitch about them more freely.

And this all started, because this week The Boss is in a mood, and is making my job entirely too difficult. He is cranky, and not in the mood to answer questions, which leaves me with piles of unfinished projects on my desk, waiting for him to be good and ready to do his lawyer thing. This then puts me in a mood. Unfortunately, when I am in a mood, I become non-productive. When I am non-productive, the piles on my desk get bigger. When the piles get bigger, I get crankier. The crankier I get, the more I slack, the more I slack…see what a vicious cycle this becomes? So, THE BOSS, needs to take a midol, so we can all get back to being productive members of society.

Of course, the more I slack, the better off you are, because you get to read little stories like this. Maybe next I'll tell you about how I just came THISCLOSE to throwing something at The Nazi!


Rebecca said...

Please please share your stories... Working with lawyers has just got be be worse than dealing with some of the idiots I have to deal with! ;-0

Literary Feline said...

I feel for you, Karina. I really do. I work with quite a cast of characters too. It makes for entertaining dinner time stories that I can share with hubby. :-) I hope things improve at the Firm soon so you can get back to the "real" work.

Beckie said...

That was quite a cast of characters! I have worked in office settings that were similar to this.

I can't explain how I read every word of these posts. It's like a novel that I can't put down.

Anonymous said...

I am not lying when I say....this could be my daughter I'm reading here!! She's 19 and works in a lawyers office and it's amazing the stories she tells me about her co-"workers". Too funny! She wasn't used to some of those personalities to begin with, I think we sheltered her too much LOL, but she's gotten a little thicker skinned since working there and now doesn't mind it at all. I'm going to have to send her over here to read this. She's going to laugh.

Karina said...

Frigga, there will definitely be more stories to come. Although, for the most part, the lawyers I work with now actually break a lot of the stereotypical lawyer behavior, in that they're pretty easy to work with. Now, some of my past jobs? There I've got stories!!!

Literary Feline, thanks, today was a better day already, so hopefully The Boss' PMS is passing.

Beckie, I'm really glad you enjoy my posts. Your comment actually made me smile real big...I got into blogging because of my love of writing, so you comparing my silly posts to a novel you can't put down made me all warm and fuzzy inside!

Joy, do send your daughter my way, I'm sure I can give her some more advice on how to deal with working in a lawfirm...I've been doing it for 10 years now, I've got LOTS of experience! ;-)