Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Talk Thursday: And Amidst All The Clamor...

You know, sometimes I get tired of writing this. Well, not tired exactly, but sometimes I get a little concerned. I don't know what all it's safe to write. Strange question for a white American child of privilege typing words on the Internet, neatly under the banner of the First Amendment, but there it is. Who's reading this stuff, anyway? Anybody important? Anybody who might get riled about something, call me up, give me a hard time? Like my boss, for example? Will I get in trouble if I talk about work? Or am I nice and safe, as long as I restrict everything to lofty concepts and diatribes at things I have no control over anyway?

By the way, we're relatively safe from my parents. They won't read this unless I actually take the time to send 'em copies of my entries. Don't know why, but there we are. I've been updating them on the raccoon situation, but I tend not to send them entries that contain the word "fuck" more than once. I have an image to maintain, here. I'd hate to be seen as the daughter who talks, uh, just like her dad.

Anyway, I'm gonna talk about work today. Every office has an Annoying Co-Worker, and of course I've got mine. Amidst all the clamor of ringing phones and grinding paper shredders and grinding copy machines that sometimes act like paper shredders and "Who in hell drank all the coffee?!" and "JEN!! Get Mr. Burns* on the phone! RIGHT NOW!!" comes this little bundle of Bad Attitude. I'm not sure how it became my good fortune to become his personal confidante. He has a Bad Attitude because he's afraid he's going to get fired. What I haven't told him, but would if I had the guts, is that he almost certainly is, and what's dooming him is not his work, or lack thereof, but the aforementioned Bad Attitude. I'm not kidding. An office can tolerate just about anything but rampant negativity.

Here's what happened. This person went on medical leave for several weeks, which is how I got hired in the first place. I was filling in for him and working mainly for one junior attorney. A couple of weeks went by and another paralegal, who worked for a much more senior attorney, got fired. Senior attorney, because he was senior, grabbed me and said, "Forget those files. Work on my files." Which I did, because A. I had no choice and B. I tend to be an obedient person where there's money involved. More Senior Attorney and I didn't mix well at first but now we get along fine; I think he didn't like change and we each had to warm to the other's sense of humor, and there were a few crises along the way, but there are always crises in law firms. Meanwhile, junior attorney didn't have anybody working on his files for a couple of weeks there, except me when I had a few minutes, which I didn't, very often. It was kind of a protracted exercise in crisis management.

So guess what happened. Annoying Co-Worker came back from medical leave and immediately got blamed for everything that possibly could have gone wrong while he was gone. Put another way, junior attorney had decided he liked me better, but he couldn't have me back because he was junior attorney. So he took it out on Annoying Co-Worker. Is this fair? No. Is this right? No. But there are two ways to handle it. One is to take a deep breath, remember one's sense of humor, and just do what one can until Junior Attorney calms down and remembers that Annoying Co-Worker was fine for the past year and a half and nothing's really changed. The other way is to develop a Bad Attitude. Uh, yeah. You guessed.

So for the past two months, Annoying Co-Worker has been coming into my cube on a near-daily basis and complaining about everything that's Wrong With The Firm. This is not handled right. That is a blatant show of favoritism. The other thing doesn't make any sense. Furthermore, this guy is out to get him and that lady doesn't know how to run an office and none of this would have happened if he hadn't asked for a raise, which just goes to show how utterly unfair this is, and by the way, he specifically asked this other person to change this here policy and it still hasn't been changed. Well, about that last thing I had a moment of insight. I mentioned to Annoying Co-Worker that the name of the firm is X and X, and the other partner is married to an X, and the manager's name is X, and unless his last name is X, which it is not, he's not going to win this argument. This made all the impression of a fingernail on hard steel. Since then I've more or less quit giving advice. Wise men don't need it and fools won't heed it, as my old great-aunt Maude used to say.

In all seriousness, if they weren't going to fire him back when all this started, they are certainly moving that direction now. And so I listen to Annoying Co-Worker trash-talk the place I work, which just incidentally I really like in spite of its weirdness, and wonder what in hell to say. Besides "Shut up, already!!" which isn't exactly polite. It bothers me because I really don't have any complaints. Most of the things he says about The Firm are true, but they don't bother me. Why? I don't know. They just don't. Maybe because I have simply Accepted Reality and he hasn't. Not everybody is cut out for every kind of job, and this may just not be his.

Here's the part that does bother me, though. Talking to him reminds me of talking to myself about ten years ago. I remember being at least that stubborn, that pigheaded, that quick to pick fights I couldn't win with managerial types who were in positions of legitimate authority. I remember doing some pretty damned outrageous things, and why I didn't get fired for half of them, I have no idea. I must have really been a good worker because honestly, I was out there. Maybe that's the reason I quit trying to help. I came into the situation with unclean hands, as it were. But, one might point out, I grew out of it. (The meds sure helped. So did the Buddhism; for one thing, I no longer drag my bad moods to work with me and dump them on other people. Buddhists consider that kind of behavior to be the height of rudeness. Would that everyone else thought likewise.)

So maybe he'll grow out of it. Maybe it's just a phase. Maybe. Possibly. Except that I'm 41 and he's 53.

Book o'the Decade Alert! I started Mockingjay, Part Three of the Hunger Games series, last night. Part two, Catching Fire, ends on one hell of a cliffhanger. It would not hurt to have Mockingjay around as you wind down the last couple of chapters. I'm just sayin'.

*Mr. Burns is a fictional client. He did not get into a car accident, in which he was not injured, and we did not sue anyone on his behalf. He makes a darn handy cover for things that happen in real cases, though, which I'm not at liberty to discuss otherwise. Thanks, Burnsie.


Cele said...

Oh mi gosh that was a perfect post for the topic. I kept wanting to say, "Breathe Jen, breathe." Hmmm, now I have to figure out what I'm going to write. It may take a day or two. How's the racoon?

Jen said...

Apparently still has a healthy appetite, judging by the amount of vanishing cat food. Otherwise haven't seen her. Or caught her for that matter.

Ironically my asthma has been kicking my butt lately. So "breathe, Jen, breathe" in the literal sense. Wheeze. Wheeze.