Thursday, August 18, 2005

The calm after the Storm

So of course today the boss is super-friendly and chipper. I’ve heard him say things like, ‘the weather must have everybody down–the office seems gloomy today’ (it was raining outside). He is totally oblivious that in reality the staff isn’t upbeat because of his behavior yesterday. Apparently in his meeting prior to meeting with EM and me, he was throwing things and having a royal fit. I also forgot to mention that while he was freaking out at EM and me, he was also trying to style his daughter’s hair. Seriously. She was playing on the computer unfazed while he exasperatedly fiddled with different hairbands and sparkly pre-teen girl hair thingies and simultaneously read us the riot act. Nutjob.

Besides my regular work, I have also been negotiating/revising the CBF lease–because they are switching buildings. Contract work is so much more fun than litigation. At first I was doing this after-hours, but this past week or so things have been heating up and many phone conferences needed to take place during business hours; plus for fast turn-around I needed to work on some of the changes as soon as I got them. This has lowered my actual billable hours a bit, but I’ve been staying late and/or skipping lunch to try to keep my regular hours up. Months ago I arranged for CBF to be considered one of our pro-bono clients, and I ‘bill’ the time (so both myself & the firm could get credit for the hours I spend doing legal work for CBF).

However, I fully anticipate getting called into his office soon so we can discuss the amount of time I have spent on CBF pro-bono work. I’ll explain that maybe, just maybe, having an attorney who comes in early, stays late or uses her lunch hour to work on pro-bono legal work is actually better than the attorneys who shop on their lunch hour, arrive later than I do and leave earlier. Oh yeah, he will then certainly flip and complain again about the other attorneys who aren’t involved in the community and don’t have interests outside of their jobs & drinking. He is just too weird to figure out. Contradiction & hypocrisy nest comfortably in him–they probably snuggle like puppies in the crevices of his brain.

I don’t know if I complained about this previously, but one of the reasons the firm sucks so much is because my boss is distracted. This isn’t his regular ADHD distraction, but a huge distraction of his time. He is leading a capital campaign for a school and spends tons of time on this at the expense of his real work. Probably about two full days each week he spends in meetings on this campaign; one of our paralegals is so busy doing this fundraising that she is getting a special assistant; other support staff are often too busy to do the attorneys work because they are busy on a fundraising project. It is seriously out-of-control. When the boss turns his eye of Mordor back to his law firm, he is confused that he is out-of-the-loop on client issues–not surprising considering that he is often days and sometimes weeks behind reading our memos and approving our letters.

What was that?–approving our letters? Yes, he doesn’t want a single letter to be sent from the firm unless he approves it. This includes the most mundane cover letters. [ Dear so-and-so, please find enclosed a copy of the documents we discussed. ] Obviously we break this rule all of the time–and then listen to him complain about it. But then he lets our letters awaiting his approval linger for days or weeks. Sometimes he complains that we didn’t ‘keep on him’ to review our work. But then other times he doesn’t want to be bothered with such trivial matters. Often he calls us a ‘pack of sharks’ as circle around his office waiting to discuss files/clients/motions/discovery...... He sighs when he sees his inbox, and exclaims disgustedly that we keep giving him more work. Sorry dude, but that’s what you get for wanting to micro-manage everyone. [One of the most fun things I do every once in a while is follow all of his anal-attentive rules to the letter and watch him twitch at my constant pestering–afterwards I run on a much longer leash.]

Besides him being obviously scitzo, it doesn’t make sense with other things. For instance, I call clients/opposing counsel/investigators All The Time without him holding my hand or checking my words. I also email them with abandon without oversight. Why doesn’t he care about these communications, but wants to wipe my ass when it comes to cover letters?

More freaky is that a few weeks ago I wrote a g-damn opinion letter that he sent out to the client without substantively reviewing my work. This is completely bizarre: he wants to double check cover letters, but will send out final work product (under his signature) of a new attorney, to an important client, without reviewing my analysis of the law. Totally crazy. If we were doctors, this would be him hovering over me as I drew blood, but allowing me to perform heart surgery unsupervised.

I think it is a bad sign that 1) I have moments on my commute to work almost every morning recently when I consider getting hit by a car as a way to avoid going into work, 2) I felt resignation and disgust as I wheeled my bike out of the basement this morning, because I knew the ride would end at work, and 3) am increasingly tempted to not come back to the office when I am away during the day–tantalizing thoughts of ‘what would happen if I just didn’t go back’ cross my mind. I try to calculate the cost of forfeiting my clothes, shoes and random other junk versus the joy of never returning.

What would happen is a question that haunts and fascinates me? Obviously it wouldn’t be professional, but what really would happen if I just never came back? Sure, they’d phone my house, but I can avoid answering my phone. I don’t even think they have my private email account. After I’d been having this thought for a while, Paul told me of a former co-worker who was in the middle of a grueling meeting where his team was sort of getting bitched at, when he excused himself to go to the bathroom.....and never returned. Even though I’ve never met him, that dude is a hero. So that is the state of my job–I am tempted to quit my first real professional job in a less professional manner than I’ve ever quit a job before, even crappy high school jobs.

Oh dear God–I can now hear him having a conversation about Snoop Dog with our Grandma IT person. What is this insane asylum that I work in?


At 9:05 AM, Blogger sui generis said...

Jojo, I'm in a really similar situation right now re: attitude towards job. Of course, I'm not working at a 'professional' job in the same sense that you are, but it is my first 'real' job after college and I've been here for a little while. I know that quitting my job would have serious repercussions (unless I manage to find another, better job first), but it's also looking like the only sensible option right now. Good luck figuring out what makes sense for you.

At 10:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the same problem at my old job. I decided to give a notice only because no matter how you look at it it is really a small world. You never know when you might have to deal with your boss again in the future. Thats why I try not to burn even the most hated bridge from my old jobs.

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Frick said...

Back in the glory days of Foodmart, I think that's how Boston quit working there. Some thing more interesting was going on (I think with Steph), so he just punched out and left with out a word. Granted, he wasn't necessarily known for his "work ethic," and I use that phrase in the most loosely imaginable way.

Wait, am I remembering this correctly? Did Justin and Steph date? That seems so strange.

At 5:01 PM, Blogger jojo said...

SG, A: I know that the 'smart' thing to do is obtain a different job first, AND not burn bridges.....but 'Burn Baby Burn' & 'I'm outta here' are on the tip of my tongue. Fortunately, I've never done such a negatively impulsive thing before, and probably won't start now. Also, if I just got one good project, I'd probably calm down a bit.

Frick: yes, Steph and Justin did date--almost ten years ago.


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