Monday, July 11, 2005

Letting the terrorist win

Today I had a run-in with a partner at my firm. I know that it was bound to happen, and that everyone has their moments, especially with this freak of nature, but nevertheless, it really upset me. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that the problem resulted from his shitty and incomplete directions. This particular guy, we'll call him Oliver Lambert for fun's sake, is famous for his inability to communicate properly. Speaking to him leads me to want to grab him by the ear and scream, like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction , "ENGLISH, MOTHERFUCKER! DO YOU SPEAK IT?" When he comes in to give my officemate assignments, I react in the same way I do when raving lunatics enter subway cars: I keep my head down, avoid eye contact, and pray that he won't notice me and start blabbering nonsense at me. Perhaps recognizing this "I'm way too busy to make small talk" approach, he has started drive-by assignment bombing me - just leaving crap on my desk while I'm not there with no directions besides a scrawled note in what looks like hieroglyphics.

One such assignment showed up on my desk last week and today, I knew I finally had to address it. The directions he gave me were not only illegible but also totally incomprehensible, especially since they asked me to do something I have never done before. I did my best, and of course it wasn't good enough. Okay, fair enough - I'm happy to redraft it. However, the manner in which I was taken to task really was unnecessarily cruel and condescending. I mean, seriously - obviously I don't know what I'm doing, so is standing over me and trying to use the Socratic method really going to help any of us? It'll just waste the client's money, my time, his time, and send me to the bathroom in tears of rage. Being asked mockingly if I've ever taken a certain class - the only class I've ever gotten an A in - was definitely a nice touch. It just reinforced my belief that law school grades have no link whatsoever to workplace performance. But we all knew that already, didn't we?

The funny thing is that I really think that deep down, he was trying to teach me. His methods were definitely questionable, but for him, just telling me what he wanted wasn't the point. He wanted me to somehow read his mind (since it sure as hell wasn't in the fucking file or the "instructions") and magically pull out exactly what should be on the piece of paper. That's what this stupid profession does to you: even when you have (or used to have) good intentions, when you're placed in a position of power, it all goes to shit. I still think that he is generally a nice person - crazy, but a nice person. But now that he's a partner at some random firm, he has been granted a golden ticket to be a dickhead and drive summer associates totally crazy. And I'm the dickhead for letting him do it.

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