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All's Well That Ends
April 15, 2003 - 9:36 p.m.
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Today I discovered how lonely and isolated I am. But we'll get to that mushy stuff later, and start things off with plot.
Yesterday, I discovered that I would be representing a client whom I have never met, on a case I had never seen, in a trial on an issue of law which I have never tried. This is because my boss assigned me to cover his case while he was out of town for this week, and just didn't bother to tell me. Let's call him Dean Wormer. (I know, yesterday he was Decker, but today he's Dean Wormer. You can follow.)
This pissed me off for a number of reasons. First, the reason I only work two days a week is so I can attend to my school work on other days, today being one of those school work days. Second, by giving me no notice, I had no real chance to prepare. Third, I don't like looking like a fool in court. Fourth, this client paid for competent representation, and not me. Fifth, Dean Wormer has done this sort of thing to me several times before, giving me a hearing to cover for him at the last minute, and I have done it each time and told him each time that he needs to check his calendar more than a day in advance and give me notice before asking me to do a hearing for him.
So I showed up in court today with the firm's consultant. Let's call him Neidermeyer. He's a smart guy, knows more law than any lawyer I've ever known, but he just isn't a lawyer. Anyway, his job, as assigned by my Dean Wormer, was to tell me what to do. Neidermeyer is competent to do that task, but there's one problem. I am the lawyer, making me responsible.
The day started off poorly, as I went to the wrong court. When I got to the right court, Neidermeyer did the negotiation with opposing counsel. Neidermeyer got a good deal offer. When he got that offer, I explained the offer to the client, but then I had to let Neidermeyer evaluate whether it was a good offer, because I just simply didn't know. It was, and we left with our client getting everything he had wanted.
"All's well that ends well," Neidermeyer observed. I see it a different way. First of all, opposiing counsel may not have been feeling so generous today, could have taking his chances with trial, in which case I'd have to do a trial I have no idea how to do, and we'd be screwed. Second, this still doesn't change the fact that, once again, Dean Wormer dropped this on me at the last minute. Third, this does not change the fact that Dean Wormer has absolutely no respect for the schedule to which we agreed. And by the way, it's the end of the semester and I'll never finish all my papers on time. That's quite enough stress for me, without the added bullshit.
Afterward, I vented to Neidermeyer. Neidermeyer, by the way, is a nice guy, and a guy I respect. He and I just don't see the world the same way. He put the positive spin on it, saying that Dean Wormer never would have asked me to do it if he didn't trust me to do it, and acknowledging the firm needs to change the way it does some things. I have no faith that things will change.
Last night I wrote the document that would be my letter to Dean Wormer telling him I was through with the firm (let's call it Omega House). My plan was that, tomorrow, I would leave the letter for Dean Wormer, and tell the staff that I would not be coming back to Omega House. However, after talking to Neidermeyer, and not mentioning to him that I was in fact planning to leave Omega House, I started to feel like I would be a jerk to just leave a kiss-off letter for Dean Wormer to read when he gets back from his vacation. On the other hand, I really don't want to face him, and Neidermeyer, and argue about the problem. I just want to leave, I don't care what is offered to me.
Tonight during class, I kept thinking about it. Why not, since I had readn't read the assignment for the class (that was what I had initially scheduled for this morning). The mnore I thought about it, the more I felt that, even if I was justified in leaving, I was doing it in a bad way.
See, I have this problem in which I put other people's feelings ahead of my own. Even after said other people have grievously wronged me.
After internal debate, I decided that, instead of my kiss-off letter, I would just write a simple note giving my two weeks' notice. This of course means I'm going to have to put up with two weeks of Dean Wormer and Neidermeyer trying to talk me out of it. It also means that I will still be going to the office Monday and Wednesay the rest of the semester, days which I desperately need to finish my school assignments.
However, after I decided to simply give two weeks' notice, my stomach didn't feel so knotted up anymore. I think that means that it's the right decision.
Now we go back to that loneliness thing I mentioned earlier. Though I have resolved this particular problem through internal debate, it would have been really helpful to have a friend to whom I can talk to offer advice, support, or validation. These are things I desperately needed today, over the past weeks, really for the past few years. But I tried to think today of who my friends are, and I could only conclude that there are none.
There are a few people at Omega House who will join in the misery of my concerns there, but they aren't people in whom I can confide. I certainly can't say things to like "I feel" in that masculine, matter-of-fact environment. (Masculine does not refer to the gender of the staff members, women are slightly more numerous. Masculine here refers to the atmosphere of the firm.) I can have no expectation of confidentiality from them (they'd repeat it to Wormer in a heartbeat), and I have no expectation of caring from any of them. I know a few people who like me, but they aren't really friends, because they are not available when I need to talk to them. They are more like people who are happy to chat pleasantly with me when we find ourselves in the same place, but that's about it. There are a few people who may care about me, or say they do, but really don't have time to talk to me. Everyone's busy, you know. I've discussed these issues with my parents, but they just don't understand what I try to tell them when I get to what I want and what I feel. (No matter how many times I have told them that I plan to work for non-profit groups after getting my M.S., they still talk to me about how getting the M.S. is a good idea for how much money I will make. They can't get past the fact that I'm not motivated by money. They still believe that the reason I was practicing law at Legal Aid for all that time was because I was using it as a stepping stone to big money. They always asked me when I was going to look for something better paying.)
I did think today that I determined that I had one friend to whom I can talk. We will call him Hoover. Hoover used to work for Omega House, before setting out to create his own firm this year, Delta House. He understands the general problems that exist at Omega House, and when I told him yesterday about the surprise trial, he was as floored as I was. I have also known Hoover for about ten years. We went to law school together and have kept in touch during the entire time. As a matter of fact, Hoover has played a big role in helping me get my last two jobs. Hoover is a pal.
Surely, I thought, Hoover could give me some good advice about leaving Omega House. I needed to know if I was justified in just walking out on Omega House, or if I was being a jerk by doing that. Even if he didn't have advice, maybe support would have been nice, because I was stressed. Maybe even just, "Road trip!" I called him first before my class started. When I called him, he was in the middle of a phone call with someone else. So I called him back during the class break. We started to talk, but call waiting came up, and he had to take the call. Business comes first, you know, he does have a wife and child to feed.
So, I found myself needing emotional support, and having nowhere to find it. I have felt that way for a while, that I have no one to whom I am close, no one who will just listen to me talk about what's on my mind, and I've needed someone like that. Today, crisis highlighted my isolation.
Overall, today has ended well. I didn't screw up the case today, and I developed a plan of action to sever my ties with a job that makes me very unhappy.
I am still not convinced that all's well that ends well.