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

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Talk Thursday: Shooting for Happy

I spent most of today doing origami. Yep. Paper folding. This is one of those things that they file under "other duties as required" in your job description. It wasn't exactly a thousand paper cranes - more like sixty-five copies of a motion filed in the bankruptcy court - but fold them I did, and stuff them into envelopes and mail them. (Aside: How does one person get sixty-five creditors? I find that astonishing. I mean, okay, some of them went to the bankruptcy trustee and the lawyers and the judges and stuff, but still. Sixty-five. Wow.) And folding and mailing them was only the last step in the process. Before that was the copying, and the stapling, and the sorting, and the printing out all the mailing labels. And the finding of the sixty-five envelopes and the making sure the postage meter had enough postage and--well, I do go on.

When that was done, I had a motion to knock off and a set of discovery to start. In between I wrote a medical chronology and amended a petition. (Does anybody know if having a physical altercation with somebody in the seat next to you, while driving a car on a freeway at the same time, constitutes gross negligence in and of itself? Anybody? Bueller?) In between there were emails to answer and envelopes to open, phone calls to take and a bunch of things to scan and sort. I also spent an hour up front covering for the receptionist, who's on vacation. And then all of a sudden it was 5:30 and time to break everything down for the night and drive like a maniac (minus the physical altercation, made easier in that there was no one else in my car) up to Afrah. So there it is. A day in the life of a litigation paralegal. Minus all the paper folding, it was pretty typical.

I've been giving a lot of thought to this whole day in life thing, in part because Joan's been asking me about it. Why did I do this, what does that mean, what's the difference between this and that. It's made me give some thought to a whole bunch of stuff I just do without thinking. If there were such a thing as Take Your Wife To Work Day I'd have done it already and let her follow me around all day. She's about to start paralegal school, in case you all didn't know that. It's her choice for the post-librarian career apocalypse, or, how to make a living when the City of Dallas crashes, burns and lays everyone off. She's about to go do what I do, which makes me wonder what I do already. And if I'm happy doing it, which is the other big thing. I've been doing it for darn near fifteen years now, so would somebody mind telling me if I'm happy?

The truth is, I didn't come to this field right away. I graduated from college with a degree in English and not clue one about what to do with myself, apart from a job at the college library (it was a really cool job, doing patent research, but it paid next to nothing and was only 20 hours a week) and some vague idea that I'd be writing this great bestseller and be set for life. (Grandiosity: Often a symptom of bipolar disorder.) I kept doing the patent research job, though,until the governor of our fine state cut my entire department. Then I ended up at Bank of America (don't laugh) during the Security Pacific merger, doing customer service for delinquent accounts. Yeah, those jerks who call you when you miss a payment. Did that for a year and a half, then moved to California, where I landed another library job and, uh, met Joan. So that ended happily, kind of, and I bounced around the lower rungs of the library ladders in town until an attorney at one of the libraries where I worked said, "Why don't you come work for me?" So I did and the rest is history. Strange history, but history all the same.

The thing is, with a job like mine, you have to love it. Otherwise it kills you. You're neck-deep in other people's problems, your clients get frustrated, opposing counsel can sometimes be a jerk, there are setbacks and setbacks to setbacks, any resolution to a case can take years, and as the paralegal, you get to hear about it all. You're the nerve center of the whole operation.

To be honest, I don't know how I'd do anything else. If that's happy, then happy I am. More to the point, I love what I do and hate when I can't do it. Unemployment, in particular, drives me nuts. I'd rather be--well, I don't know what I'd rather be, but I'd rather be working, that's for sure. I went to paralegal school mainly to fill in the gaps that show up when you learn on the job rather than by the book. Joan's going to get something a lot more tangible than I was shooting for: A happy ending to what's become a very dreary tale. She's sharp, she's been to law school for a year, she's chosen a good school, and it's not like she hasn't given it plenty of thought. I think she'll be fine. But I wouldn't be at all surprised if her experience is completely different than mine. Not better or worse, just very different.

Classes start October 18. I'll be a paralegal-school widow. Yep, that's me, home with the cats watching taped episodes of Warehouse 13. Oh, I'll survive somehow.


Cele said...

I think being a paralegal could be a tedious, interesting as hell job. That being said, your recountance of your day wore me out.

Good luck to Joan, I can see how having a spouse who does the same thing as you, can emphatize with you, and understands what you face day in and out is a win win situation.

Cele said...

And really who wouldn't want to sit and watch episodes off of the DVR of Warehouse 13...right after my episodes of Eureka.

Jen said...

Win win indeed--Though in a strange way we've been working together for years. On job interviews I always mention that I live with a librarian, and if I can't find it she can. "We're a package deal. No extra charge."

Oddly enough, I have never seen an episode of Eureka. Not sure why...