Disclaimer

This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, legal services or legal anything else. Don't sue me. All I have is debt anyway.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

MILP Roundup #209

...is being guest-hosted at Attorney at Large.

Big thanks to EH for picking up duties this week!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

More on Bosses

Since I'm trying to cheer myself up, I figured I'd remind myself of how much crazy bosses suck.

I actually forgot one of my places of non-legal employment, which is silly, since I worked there the longest of any job. That would be the now-defunct Computer Superstore, or as we lovingly referred to it, as CompUSuck.

It wasn't always CompUSuck. When the store first opened, there was a pretty awesome group of managers, who treated us very well. But eventually they all left, and we were left with a group of assholes and idiots to take their places. (Oh, and I should also mention that, from the previous post, when I first got the job there, they had called the county schools for a reference, and apparently Butter Face intercepted the phone call. She gave me a very bad reference, and said some pretty nasty things about me, also claiming she'd fired me for performance reasons. The retail manager told me this later, and laughed about it. Apparently it was so bad and so different from my other references, he called back and talked to the technology director, who gave a completely different story of my job performance. Seriously though, what a hateful old bitch.)

Anyway, the first group of managers was awesome and fun, and the store performed very well. However, that group also had some trouble with the sexual harassment. Strangely enough, the one manager who had never made even any sort of sexual comment to me was the one who actually got fired for sexual harassment. There was a company policy that managers could not date other employees. He started dating the receptionist, who wasn't even his direct employee (she was technically corporate and he was retail), and he got fired for it. They ended up getting married. It was just sort of stupid. Anyway, the rest of the guys there were a raunchy bunch, although none of them ever crossed a line with me and never discriminated against me in any way. I think ultimately I was more of the kid sister they just liked to pick on, as though I would be shocked by their lewd comments and clutch my pearls in horror, and they were amused I could throw down. Anyway, those managers left and then came the replacement group. The new store manager and the new retail manager was a slime ball and a spineless weasel, respectively.

When the store first opened, I worked a short stint in the tech department. As a young female, this was often unpleasant. Not because of management, but because of the customers. And it was mostly female customers who would question my credentials and second-guess my recommendations. I would constantly have to get the tech manager, who barely even knew anything about computer repair, to come out and convince the customer that I knew what I was talking about and that the customer should either authorize the repair or just buy a new machine. Eventually, I got tired of it, and transferred to corporate sales for the store, which had the opportunity for a lot more money. Also, women do a lot better in sales. Especially hawt young women, in short skirts and tight shirts. (Yes, I made many sales with dirty old men staring at my bewbs, and no, I have no shame. Utilize the assets you've got... before they need to be lifted and tucked a decade and two kids later.)

My group (of which I was eventually made supervisor) were hourly sales staff who also earned commission after making a certain amount in sales each month (if we didn't make our quota, we didn't get any commission from our sales). Because we were so good (our profit margins were excellent and we had the highest sales in the region), we individually made very good money, and would easily triple our base pay each month.

Well, for some reason management always tried to screw with us, I don't know why. The better we performed, the better the store looked. We got all kinds of praise from the regional manager for our department. But, sabotage nonetheless... our group only worked during store hours so we weren't required to stay and stock/clean the store after hours like the retail employees. Part of that is because instead of wearing khakis and polo shirts, we wore business attire (as we met with business clientele), and we had cubicles in the back of the store. And it's a little difficult to climb a ladder and stock merchandise when you're wearing a pair of stilettos. But more importantly, it also cut into our sales time. Unlike the rest of the staff, we were commission-based. If we're losing 7 hours each week to stocking merchandise, that's nearly an entire shift of our group not making sales (and we were not allowed overtime, not to mention, the store liked to try to cut our hours anyway). So, I was pretty aggravated when the store manager told us we had to start stocking merchandise after hours. It reduced all of our sales at least slightly, which reduced our paychecks, and in the first month, it resulted in one of my salesmen (almost) not making his sales quota, which would have cost him his month's commission. He only made his sales quota because I came in on my day off and (illegally) worked off the clock to make sales and rang them under his sales number instead of mine. But I figured that's what a good manager does; a good manager doesn't screw you out of money, he helps you make money. Eventually I won the battle with the store manager on the issue, and he didn't much like me after that.

Also, our direct department manager was definitely not a good manager, either. He was this shady little man with a Napoleon complex, who did asshole things to "keep people in line," like writing me up for clocking in exactly 1 minute late to work. (I am absolutely not a punctual person, so the whole 1 minute late thing is more like 10 minutes early for me.) He would also steal sales from me. I worked this really big deal with a rather prominent local horsey organization that purchased machines, networking services, training, etc., and the final bill of sale ended up being well into the six figures with a very high profit margin (services and warranties really boost those margins). It was the biggest single sale our store had made, and it was my sale. I made first contact with the organization, I prepared the sales quote and designed the pitch to the board of directors, I "second chaired" the sales meeting with the tech manager running the show... and my asshole corporate manager stole the sale from me, taking credit himself, and only gave me something like a $200 commission on the whole thing. I actually made less money that month than I normally would, because I had spent so much time working with that client, including being off-site to schmooze with the horsey people and do a walk-through of the place to "assess" their needs, which only I was qualified to do because of my background in tech/networking. My asshole manager? Couldn't even use his own computer. Stole my sales commission. Asshole. You think the store manager did anything about it? Hell no. Asshole. Stupidly, I didn't make a stink about it and go to the regional manager, because I didn't want to rock the boat. I should have knocked those assholes out of the damn boat. (Yet another example of how I don't stand up for myself.)

Anyway, back to the corporate sales manager... the worst thing about him was that his idea of "client development" was to take potential clients out to the strip club to "wine and dine" them. Gross. He even hired a guy who was still working as a bouncer at the local strip club, so he could get free VIP passes. Against my wishes. And the guy was a crappy salesmen. And he sat at his cubicle across from mine and spit tobacco juice into an empty Pepsi bottle that he left sitting on his desk for me to have to stare at. Really gross. Hated them both.

Finally, another one of the incompetent new "redshirt" managers in the store lost me my biggest regular customer. That manager was one of those obnoxious jerks who loves to be in charge and everyone's boss, regardless of whether you work for him or not... until an actual decision needs to be made, and then suddenly he doesn't have any authority, he can't make that call. He actually wanted to be a police officer, but couldn't pass the physical fitness test. Thank goodness; he would have been the stereotypical bad cop who gets off on pushing people around and violating your civil rights. Anyway, one day he was the "manager on duty," while the other managers were off doing whatever. My customer calls me, who is a big important attorney in the Eastern part of our state, and says she's coming to the store, needs these items, and she'll be in around lunchtime to get it. I pull the order, which is around $7K, I unbox these gigantic workhorse laser printers that she's been buying up (we would unbox them for her because she couldn't fit them all in her car otherwise), and set them up front at the corporate pickup desk ready for payment and ready for one of the big strong boys to put them all into her car. Way ahead of her time, she took her office big into technology, and revamped everything. Including that they printed their own checks. Problem was the firm checks never got approved by Equifax, and a manager always had to sign off on the check to complete the transaction, which wasn't a big deal. Being a partner at a prominent (and wealthy) law firm, we established early on in our business relationship that it was not a problem, and she came in quite regularly with these kinds of large orders. However, when she came to pick up the order, Faux Manager refused to sign off on the check, because he said he didn't have the authority (which was a load of crap), and wouldn't let her take the merchandise because he didn't know if her check was real, so she had to wait until the store manager returned. It wasn't like it was possible for her to come back in an hour when a real manager was there, because she lives/works three hours away (which is why she'd called ahead). When I got back from lunch, one of my guys from the corporate pickup desk calls me to tell me what had just happened and that the customer is furious and she's never coming back. I told him I'll sign off on the damn check myself, but it was too late and she had just left, and I couldn't reach her on her cell. I ripped Faux Manager a new asshole, and then when the store manager returned, he tried calling my customer and begging forgiveness (and a return of her business) and she ripped him a new asshole. She's always been lovely to me though. (Small world, I'm now friends with her son, who went to college with my husband, and he's married to another friend of mine.) Ultimately, couldn't blame her the way she'd been treated by Faux Manager as though she was handing him a fake check (even though several other employees tried to tell him that she was a regular, and very wealthy, customer and her money was good).

Anyway, eventually CompUSuck's managing imbeciles drove the company into the ground. One of the first ways they did this was by shutting down the corporate sales divisions in each store, and instead, opening a "call center" in Dallas. The way we operated was that we had on-site sales staff to cater to the business customer. We could negotiate down prices (to a certain profit margin) as we saw fit, to get their business. Some larger companies would get better deals than that due to the volume they purchased monthly, and paid on net 30 accounts. As anyone knows, corporate bigwigs love to be pampered, have their hands held and feel important. So, even though they could probably have ordered the stuff on-line for the same price and had it shipped, they wanted the special attention, the face-to-face. When the in-store corporate sales divisions were closed, CompUSuck's great idea was to place a big red phone at the corporate pick-up desk, where the bigwig important customers were expected to pick up the phone and talk to someone in Dallas to tell them what products they wanted, so that us recently-demoted corporate desk monkeys could either pull it off the shelf for them if it was there, or take prepayment for it if it needed to be shipped. Yeah... the customer couldn't stand there and tell me what they wanted, they had to pick up the ugly red phone, talk to someone in another state, wait for that person to place an electronic order, for me to fulfill it.

Hmmm... I'm sure you can guess how well that went over. It was rather ugly. I was the only one who didn't take the severance package and bail... I went down with the ship by taking the supervising position at the corporate pickup desk for a massive paycut. Cora's godfather took his severance and unemployment benefits and escaped with his life (that's how we met, we worked together 13 years ago). I should have done the same, but I honestly didn't know what else to do with myself.

As the stream of corporate customers came in to find out their regular salesperson had been let go and they had to face the Big Red Phone, I got yelled at quite a bit. Which I thought was rather rude, like it was my genius idea or something. "I'm sorry, Mr. Corporate Bigwig, that you're inconvenienced by having to place your order on a phone. Here's the number to the corporate headquarters, where you can yell at someone whose name does not peel off their nametag, pinned onto their ugly, frumpy, red polo shirt. Someone whose salary wasn't reduced by 2/3 because she was replaced by a damn ugly red phone and a call center full of imbeciles in Texas hired by another group of imbeciles in Texas determined to run what used to be a profitable company into the ground." I received a record number of customer complaints, as the Big Red Phone didn't even connect to the call center half the time, and when it did, they'd just screw up their order. The Weasel retail manager would kiss the angry customer's ass, and manage to blame whatever the problem was on me, and the customer would leave the store anyway without purchasing anything. Eventually, the Epic Fail of the Big Red Phone became obvious. CompUSuck closed the call center, they closed the corporate pickup desk, and the entire company was either retail or mail-order/online store, no more corporate sales. I think at one point they resurrected the corporate sales department in the stores, but by then they'd lost all their corporate customers, each store had to start from scratch with customer building and a lot of bridges had been burned. The company lasted about another five years before it was no more. The online store still exists in some capacity, I believe it was purchased by another mail-order company, and maybe a couple dozen stores still exist. Ours does not.

After I left the company in 2000, my mom ended up working there in the cash office. She worked for this horrible woman who I had also worked with, but fortunately I was able to avoid most of the time, who was the front end manager. Talk about your sexual harassment. She would tell horrific stories of her sexcapades, including those involving coworkers and other managers. She was a great big fat lady, which made detailed descriptions of her sex life that much more disturbing. She was also a back-stabbing bitch and would try to get people in trouble because she had nothing better to do. Cora's godfather had many unpleasant run-ins with her, since the corporate pick-up desk was in her airspace, even though he'd never actually worked for her. She once tried to write me up for a check being missing (which was in the drawer), and was not pleased when said write-up didn't take. She probably didn't like my mom because she didn't like me. Like that's a great big loss.

That ended my career in retail/sales. Finding myself underemployed the summer of 2000, I went to a temp agency to look for work. I waited tables for a couple months, but just wasn't making enough money. I was a history major, with very little direction in life, and could only afford to go to school part-time, getting absolutely nowhere towards graduation. So, I asked the temp agency if they could place me with a law firm. I thought maybe I'd like to work in a law office, maybe I'd be a lawyer someday.

Oh, the bad choices we make. I should have asked them to place me in a flower shop.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Totally not into me

Yet again, said insurance defense firm is totally not into me (got the rejection letter today). I really should learn my lesson about interviewing with firms that have already rejected me in the past. Like, what makes me think this time will be any better? I give up.

So, looks like it's me and a bunch of crazy people in family law. Awesome.

Oh well. I'll continue with my "Bosses Who Suck" series of posts and remind myself that it could certainly be worse. At least working for myself, I'm always the biggest bitch in the office. Which these days is my bedroom, working on my laptop, propped up on the body pillow. Life could be worse. So, I'll try not to resent all of you out there with gainful employment, and just be glad I have some small pittance of money rolling in. And who wants to work for some crappy insurance defense firm anyway? Haven't I had enough of my soul sucked out already?

Sucks.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bosses, Part 1

During my interview a couple weeks ago (with the awesome firm that was totally into me -- probably until they realized I was about to give birth in the middle of their office), one of the interviewers mentioned a friend of hers had worked for one of my former employers, and told a story about how the guy got a nice briefcase from him as compensation for the boss throwing a lamp at him. I just laughed. I told her that by the time I worked for him, The Boss was no longer allowed to have lamps in his office because he had broken too many (mostly from throwing them at people), and also had a closet full of broken phones too. (He was a bit of a drama queen.) I've had several interviews with people where the interviewer has raised their eyebrows and said, "You worked for [Crazy Boss]? Oh my gosh... I heard that he..." And usually the stories were pretty much right on target. Overall though, he was by far not the worst boss I've ever had. He at least on some level knew he was crazy, and appropriately compensated his employees for putting up with his shenanigans. We were paid very well, and even paid for overtime, which we were encouraged to work. And if you're my Facebook friend, my current profile picture is one my roommate (who also worked for him) recently posted from the office Christmas party, which was super swanky and had an open bar. Ah, the days of feast rather than famine.

Anyway, I'm sure we've all got stories about crazy bosses. There are crazy bosses, asshole bosses, sociopathic bosses, and, of course, some really awesome bosses. I've had a few from each category. I've (mostly) gotten over the really bad bosses, but definitely wish I had the balls to do what that one guy up in New Jersey did (and ultimately lost at), but I don't really want to get sued. Although it's not like you can garnish my non-existent paycheck, ha! Judgment-proof, Baby! (Yeah, that doesn't make me feel much better either.)

But, it just made me think back on the places I've worked, and the crazy people I've worked for.

We'll start with the non-lawyers:

1. Back in high school my senior year, I worked for the county schools doing technology work, and our county was really one of the leaders in implementing technology into education in the state. Our school trained students in networking and computer repair and used us as slave labor during the school day, and paid us a small wage for the work outside of school. It was excellent experience at a really exciting time in technology development. I was only one of two female students who did the work. I had a good mentor there, who was the top tech guy, who would notoriously stick you in a room with a bunch of broken computers and simply tell you "make it work." It was a lot of practice in figuring things out for myself. I did a project with him for the public library in much the same vain. It was very good experience, and I liked working with him and with the group, many of which were my friends.

Unfortunately, they ended up hiring this really awful woman into some sort of coordinator position, and she for some reason hated me. Probably because she spent all of her time flirting with/throwing herself at the men who worked there (some of which weren't much older than me, because they had been classmates who graduated and returned to accept jobs there), and didn't want other females around to witness it. (Not to mention I was totally hawt, of course she was jealous.) It was kinda gross, especially since she was quite a bit older than most of them. She was kinda gross too. Exactly the kind of woman who thinks she is more attractive than she is, with the totally fried "blond" hair that ends up gray and washed out, and while she had a decent figure, she was definitely a "butter face." One of the tech guys actually made complaints that she kept sticking her bewbs in his face every time she came into his office to ask him a question, making an excuse to point to his computer screen while rubbing her bewbs on him. (Pretty bad when a computer geek is complaining about having bewbs near him.)

Eventually, at the direction of Butter Face, I got stuck at a desk at the technology center, which wasn't really a bad thing, because I knew nothing about Macs which was most of the need at the time and wasn't really keen on learning, and also, I got to do some grant-writing, which is what I do a lot of currently, so that was good experience in retrospect. I started schmoozing with the technology director and kinda hoped it would turn into an admin position after graduation, since she seemed to be taking an interest in me. But then one day (while the technology director was on vacation) Butter Face brought me into her office and told me there wasn't enough money to keep paying me, and there wasn't enough work to justify me being there, and I was being let go. I was upset, but I didn't have any reason to doubt her, or her authority to terminate me. So, I didn't come back to work.

Until I happened to speak with the technology director a few months later, who expressed to me that she was really upset that I had quit. I was like, uh, I didn't quit, I was told I didn't have a job by Butter Face. She told me that wasn't true, they had plenty of work for me to do, she liked my work, and she couldn't understand why Butter Face had told me to leave. By then, I already had another job and I was getting ready to graduate and get the hell out of Dodge, so it was too late to do anything about it. Too naive to realize we'd been enemies, it was my first experience with lying, backstabbing bitches in the workplace. I used the technology director as a job reference for a few years.

Butter Face eventually got fired, probably for rubbing her bewbs on someone.


2. I went on to work as a sales clerk for a Christian bookstore in the local mall. I thought it would be a nice place to work -- clean and well-lit, and everyone was always so friendly. I'm pretty sure you go straight to Hell if you're mean to someone in a Christian bookstore, so the customers were always super nice (even if they left the store to go over to Macy's and scream at some poor sales clerk there). It was a "Christian" bookstore, afterall. In my interview, they talked about how it was more than a job, it was a ministry, and leading by example in Christianity. What could possibly go wrong?

Yeah... the franchise was owned by a sociopath who looked exactly like Henry Gibson in The 'Burbs, so we'll call him Dr. Klopek. Dr. Klopek still tops the Worst Boss list, and even manages to trump a few lawyers, so that's a real accomplishment. The man was evil. He'd made every employee there, including the men, cry at least once. I'm pretty sure, like his namesake, he has a trunk full of bones in his car from the people he's made dissolve from his hate. Evil.

How did Dr. Klopek accomplish his evil? I have no idea. I don't know how or why any self-respecting person would work for him, especially for minimum wage, but I stuck it out for nearly 9 months. It was like being in an abusive home, and all you wanted to do was stay under the radar so you didn't get beat up, but there was no certainty to avoiding his wrath. His special insult to me was that I obviously couldn't handle the intellectual rigors of selling religious books, music and crappy gifts, that "this isn't Taco Bell" (I had worked at Taco Bell the year before, and that was obviously degrading.) He loved trying to catch someone in a mistake. For instance, he once spent 20 minutes trying to figure out which of us had rang up a sale and had failed to write down someone's phone number on the check they'd taken. All of us working that day were standing around, full of dread. It didn't matter if we'd even taken a single check that day in our sales, he was going to berate us anyway. The culprit? Turned out to be his wife. He glared at her furiously, and I'm sure she got an earful when they left, because she'd ruined his chance of screaming at all of us (which he still blustered on for a few minutes about what idiots we all were).

Other examples of psycho behavior: Dr. Klopek once took a Saturday off to go to a ball game, leaving one of the assistant managers in charge, who was a very bright and hardworking doctoral student at the local seminary. Under her direction, we made absolutely certain that every "i" was dotted and "t" was crossed in running the store that day, and in cleaning it that night. I was the only one scheduled to work with Dr. Klopek the next day, and I would be the one receiving his wrath should anything be out of place. And, of course... Dr. Klopek went batshit crazy on me, insulting me, berating me, and finally telling me to go home without finishing my shift and not to come back until I could do my job... because, while digging around in the trash, he found that whoever had cleaned the glass case the night before had dared to use three sheets of paper towel to do so, and the sheets looked as though they had barely been used. Which was not me, but it was my fault anyway. Crazy. He had previously made a scene in front of a customer, because he was hovering over me during a sales transaction, and I'd failed to inform the customer that because she was purchasing a Bible, that the "Bible cozies" were 20% off. Even though I already had when I was helping her earlier. He angrily stage-whispered it to me while I was ringing her up. She gave me a wide-eyed look and replied to him, "No, thank you." While she was still in earshot, he continued to berate me for not doing my job and losing him a sale. So, I guess the paper towel wastefulness was just the end of the line for my competency that day.

I continued to put up with the abuse, but the last straw for me came when we were forced to work New Years' Eve (up to and past the ball dropping) in order to "do inventory." Anyone who has ever worked in a retail store knows that when you "do inventory," you are taking inventory of the products. Part of this is to reconcile what you physically have in the store, with what your computer inventory shows you have. The loss of products between what is obtained from the supplier and the point of sale is called shrink. Generally, when you're doing inventory, it's to figure out what you actually have and calculate your shrink. Correcting your inventory is pretty important, especially when your clerks spend a lot of time looking up merchandise for customers to find out if it is in stock. You can waste a lot of time looking for products that don't really exist, when your inventory is incorrect.

On the contrary, Dr. Klopek's interpretation of "inventory" was to simply add up the retail price of all products in the store, I assume, for tax purposes. Fine, whatever, but he failed to mention that to those of us who had never done an inventory for him before, which you think he would have done before giving us pen and paper and saying "go take inventory." So, I'm writing down sku numbers and amounts, as are two other people. When Dr. Klopek realizes this, he completely loses his shit, starts screaming at us, throws a temper tantrum about what idiots we are and how we can't even understand a basic concept like "inventory," and of course for me, that I should just go back and work at Taco Bell, because that's all I'm capable of doing. I handed him the paper and pen and told him he could do it himself, since I wasn't capable of doing it. I expected him to fire me, but his wife intervened and apologized for his behavior, and I ended up staying. But I started looking for a new job.

By the end of the month, I had a new job and left there an agnostic and engaging in a considerable amount of underage drinking to self-medicate. The bookstore is now closed. Hopefully wherever Dr. Klopek works now, he is not in charge of other employees or conducting any sort of "ministry." Dr. Klopek makes the baby Jesus cry.

3. Finally, I worked (very briefly) for a tech company that was incredibly disorganized. I was supposed to be their inventory manager. (Ha, suck it Dr. Klopek). My first day there, I had no computer. The owner sent me to the computer store (my previous employer) to buy parts to build my own computer. I spent the next two days building my own computer. I then spent the next two months asking for other things I needed but never got to do my job, i.e. order materials, etc. The job was (supposed to be) flexible, since I was a student, which meant I generally came in after classes were over and left early when I had another class. So, it was barely a full time job.

My direct manager was completely disinterested in dealing with me, or my requests for information at all. Most of the time when I would try to talk to her, she was either shouting at her ex-husband on the phone, crying to her new boyfriend, or shouting/crying at her lawyer. Then Baby Mama would glare at me and tell me to figure it out myself, she didn't have time to "babysit." Emails to her went completely unanswered. (However, she did have time to research current child custody laws in an attempt to move her children out of state to spite her ex-husband.) Eventually, one of the company's biggest clients, with a big outstanding bill, filed bankruptcy, and the company was not going to be getting anything out of the liquidation. But, with Baby Mama being a total bitch, instead of giving that as the reason for my dismissal, said it was because I was late to work all the time and wasn't doing my job. Which denied me unemployment benefits (again, too naive to understand I could appeal and would have gotten my benefits). The owner, to his credit, was pretty mortified by the situation, and when he found out she'd fired me, gave me several weeks' pay, in cash, and apologized profusely for what was simply a bad situation.

Karma came when, less than six months' later, he fired Baby Mama for, shockingly enough, not doing her job and taking unauthorized time off of work to go vacation with her new boyfriend (probably to spite her ex-husband). As far as I know, he's still in business, although he had a few other employees leave rather disgruntled at the disorganized situation.

* * *

I've had a few other non-law jobs. Working at Taco Bell and waiting tables at Ruby Tuesday was largely uneventful, although food service sucks, and the money is crap (unless you wait tables somewhere swanky). My very first job was working for Great Steak & Potato Company in the mall, which is still open, and it says a lot about the place that I will still eat there. The franchise owner is an awesome guy and while food service sucks and the mall at Christmas time is a nightmare, I enjoyed working for him. We got to have free food on shift, which was awesome. The fries are fantastic, especially when you dip them in cheese sauce. Yum!

I also think it says a lot that I still recognize one of the assistant managers there. If you're willing to keep working for the same person for 15 years, that's a good indicator of a good boss. That's one thing I've learned over the years, is to ask why there's a position open, why have people been leaving. And ask around to find out if it's true, or if the place is a miserable revolving door. My last boss actually told me to call his former associate so I would know what kind of a boss he was. I thought that spoke volumes about him. And he was a damn good boss. Others... not so much.

Part 2 shall be "Lawyers (and Office Managers) Who Suck."

Monday, June 20, 2011

This week

This week completely unraveled. I was all geared up today for a long night of getting stuff done, and pretty much everything disappeared. Meeting tomorrow morning canceled (yay), so I have another two days to get done what I was going to get done tonight for tomorrow's meeting. And a hearing got canceled for Wednesday (although I haven't notified opposing counsel about that yet... gotta have a chat with them tomorrow), and that situation is such a complete and utter clusterfuck, I can't even wrap my mind around it all yet, seriously. Ugh. Then I was asked to switch days for contract work to avoid awkwardness of newly-dismissed paralegal coming in to clear her stuff out of the office I use tomorrow (long story). Even the baby shower has been canceled for this Sunday. My calendar is quickly emptying, whew. Not complaining too much though. I'm sitting here blogging instead of doing work.

Last week was our bar association convention. I'm way over on my CLE's, so I wasn't going to attend, except that I ended up working a table for the MLP. That was a whole lot of boring, lemme tell you. During CLE sessions, I just read my book (I got through over half of the 1000 pages of "Pillars of the Earth" in those three days). Then during breaks, I got to stamp people's "passports" because if people got stamps from each exhibit table, they could enter a drawing for prizes (we gave away a Kindle). Maybe about 10 people were genuinely interested in what we do, and wanted to volunteer. One person made a donation, and another offhandedly said they intended to do so. We also attended the family law section meeting one evening, instead of getting the free food and booze at the Kick-Off party, to make a pitch for money. (I'm not a member of the family law section, because I can't figure out what exactly that will do for me, and they have the highest dues of any of the sections. After attending the meeting, I'm still not sure what they do. I'll stick to Young Lawyers and our $10 dues, thanks.) Anyway, that was pretty much it. I ditched the table in favor of seeing Erin Brockovich speak on Friday afternoon, which was awesome, and since our work was done, I attended a CLE session after that on Domestic Violence in Affluent Marriages, that was quite excellent (I was reluctant to go, because apparently the session on domestic violence the day before turned into some epic fail... again, long story). Had a night out with former classmates from grad school and a few from law school, as one of my friends who also did both programs was in town from DC for the convention. We went to our old grad school watering hole and had a great time. Reminds me how much I miss my grad school peeps and how grad school only holds great memories (whereas with my law school classmates, we merely bonded over our shared misery).

This weekend was pretty low key. On Friday, we had friends over for dinner. Saturday, we went to the bookstore (where we bought lots of Dora books), the music store (where I finally bought a replacement A string for my violin, a pitch pipe since mine went MIA, and a new copy of Suzuki book 1 since apparently they changed it and Cora can't use my 22 year old copy) and went to a cookout some friends were having. On Sunday, we hung out at home most of the day while it thunderstormed, then later walked around the Arboretum and followed it up with a trip to the liquor store to buy Husband some father's day gin (and where Cora learned the words "premises liability" after she tripped over a floor mat and fell down... she received a red balloon as compensation). After, we tried a new Mexican restaurant that was rated very highly on Yelp (I snobbishly couldn't believe that a Mexican restaurant outside of Mexington could be all that good, but I have to admit, it was pretty awesome).

Other stuff:

I'm ginormously pregnant and still have 14 weeks to go. I believe both me and the fetus find this to be way the fuck too long, as I think it's trying to dig its way out of my abdomen.

I've heard nothing about the job for which I interviewed. No love for Pregzilla, I'm guessing.

Book club meeting is this weekend for "Pillars of the Earth," which I've nearly finished. Woot for finishing a non-law book.

I'm becoming rather dismayed with my child's unfortunate twang developing in her accent, and am considering sending her off to a Swedish boarding school until it resolves. Things are becoming two-syllable words that are only supposed to have one syllable. Like, "Yea-ah." I am a native of this state, and except when it offers an advantage, do not speak with an accent. I'm snobby that way and have been since childhood, when even my elementary school teacher told me that "pin" and "pen" were homophones. Uh, no. They are also not two-syllable words. "Pee-yen" is not the correct pronunciation of either word. Of course, on occasion, when I'm tired, some twang slips in.

Over all, can't complain too much (other than about being Pregzilla, and such lengthy sobriety).

MILP Roundup #208

The Weekly MILP (Moms In the Legal Profession) Roundup** is hosted on a rotating basis at the PT-LawMom, Attorney Work Product and Butterflyfish blogs and is usually posted no later than Monday. Next week Butterflyfish will have it.

Here it is:

LEO bakes.

WNWL has a year under her belt.

CM plays games.

Newlawmom will never endure the pain of imagining Epstein in the shower with Sharon Stone.

Dinei on bewb pumping.

Momttorney on Round Two.

LL has pictures.

Butterflyfish has drafts.

Googiebaba really is gay, and in Boston.

SuzieJD experiences Girl Drama.

RG has a one-year-old.

LC and digital camping.

-R- on the inappropriate.

EH versus Old People.

But I Do Have a Law Degree vaguely remembers life before kids.

If you would like to have your blog added to the MILP blogroll for weekly review or would like us to consider a specific post, drop the hostess(es) an email or leave a comment at their respective sites.

**Hat tip to the “original” Roundup Evan Schaeffer’s Legal Underground and Thanks, But No Thanks

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Crazy Cult

When I was 13, I was forced to have a meeting with the "Elders" of The Crazy Cult, which is like being called into the principal's office, except there are several of them there to scold you. The topic of discussion was the length of my dresses and skirts. I was advised that the length was much too short and, because of it, I was "sending out a sexual message" to the "brothers" of the congregation. That, because of my inappropriate clothing, I would make one of the brothers "stumble," and he would begin to think lewd thoughts about my body.

Wow, those are some pretty scandalous skirts, right? Yeah... My dresses came to the tops of my knees.

I still shudder just thinking about a bunch of closet pervs getting a stiffy every time they saw my 13 year old knees. In The Cult, they actually force the girls and women to wear skirts, we weren't allowed to wear pants. But it's my fault for... having knees, I guess. Kinda like it's the rape victim's fault for wearing a short skirt, because she was obviously asking for it? Gross. I was horrified and humiliated by that meeting, and certainly that's not the only time that sort of thing happened, and definitely not the worst. Thirty-one-year-old me wishes I could hop a ride on a time machine and crash that meeting, so I could punch some dirty old perverts in the dick and tell 13-year-old me not to let dirty old perverts make me feel bad about myself, ever.

That is just one very small example of the sort of perverted, misogynist bullshit I put up with throughout my childhood. Aside from the crap most people know about, like Jehovah's Witnesses not being allowed to celebrate any holidays including birthdays, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, or have a blood transfusion, there is a whole spectrum of brainwashing, manipulation, and control that goes into growing up in The Cult, particularly for women. The brainwashing runs deep, and I don't think most people escape it in a healthy manner. Maybe I didn't either, I don't know. But I'm definitely better off than most, I think. They never broke me.

I'm also lucky in a sense that, because I was never fully initiated, I was able to fade out instead of getting kicked out, or "disfellowshipped." Being disfellowshipped is the worst thing that can possibly happen to you in The Cult. That means you've done something really naughty. Like, maybe you got caught smoking a cigarette. Or getting to second base with your girlfriend. Or celebrating Christmas. Disfellowshipped! That means no one else (who doesn't also want to be disfellowshipped) can talk to you ever again, not even to smile politely or nod should you encounter them in public: you are one big leper. (Unless you jump through all of their hoops and adequately suffer enough humiliation that you are allowed to be "reinstated.") They will actually cross the street to avoid walking by you, because your sin will rub off on them. Frankly, I could give a shit less if any of those self-righteous hypocritical assholes acknowledge my existence ever again, and that's including my mother's two asshole brothers. My status is "inactive," and I slipped through the cracks. People can talk to me, although they are still discouraged from doing so, because I'm "bad association." (Well, they got that right, at least.)

Anyway, The Cult has decided to screw with me again, particularly my family, and now I'm having to restrain myself from punching dirty old men in the dick.

Cora's godfather, as I've mentioned before, has been my best friend for the past 13 years. Over the years, he's gotten to be very close to my mom, he even calls her Mommy. We consider him family. Recently, he started renting a room from her, because he needed an affordable place to live while he's in nursing school, and she needs the extra money. We don't really feel this is inappropriate, considering: 1. He's family; 2. He's gay; and 3. This is not the Stone Age.

However, The Cult found out about it. (Probably from driving by her house to see whose car is parked there. They seriously do that. A lot. But the psycho stalking is another post entirely.) So, of course, Mom ends up in a meeting with the Elders. They told her that him living there is dirty and sinful and "goes against the Bible." She told them that she is doing nothing inappropriate, and he is living there because he is family, and they both need the help. Obviously, they are not having sex. But then dirty closet perverts start going on about how there would still be inappropriate contact, because they would be sharing a shower, and they would see each other in their underwear, or naked even, and they would think about each other in sexual ways (cue dirty old men getting stiffies and needing some private time). Never mind that the setup of her place is two bedrooms on opposite ends of the building, each with its own bathroom. The only shared space is the living room and kitchen. You know, like most roommates. Oh, but what could the neighbors possibly be thinking?! (Uh, for the ones that don't actually mind their own business, she's told them he's her son.)

But, it gets better. Now comes the epically ignorant bigotry. Because, after all, he's gay, so he must have the AIDS! (And, for the record, no, he is not HIV-positive.) They start going on about how she will "catch an infection" from him, because they're sharing a shower (again with the shower fantasy) and they, gasp!, share dishes! Because everyone knows that every gay person has the AIDS and you get the AIDS by eating off of a plate that someone else previously eaten off of and you washed before using. I mean, duh!

Seriously. What kind of sick perverts come up with this stuff? However, when they couldn't convince her of the error of her ways, they played their trump card, which is threatening to disfellowship her if she doesn't have him out of her house in two weeks. Two weeks! That's actually violating state law. My response is, of course, I want to go punch them all in the dick.

Anyway, he's going to move out, not because Mom's making him, but because he told her he didn't want to be the reason she can't talk to her brothers anymore. (Again, I'd find that to be a big bonus.) And The Cult is her only source of socialization, really. She just won't go out and make friends otherwise.

Having extended-stay guests makes Husband irritable (mostly because then he actually has to wear pants around the house, but also because of his weird work/sleep schedule), so I sheepishly asked him if he minded him staying with us for awhile, until he can get something permanent. His answer was simply, "He's family. There's no question about it. Of course he stays with us."

And that's it exactly. He's family. And self-righteous hypocritical closet perverts can go suck a dick (which they probably are, after they've slipped it some roofies, but that's another story entirely). They have no idea what family means, because should one of their family members break the sacred rules of proper behavior, they shun them and never speak to them again. You know, because talking to one of your family members who ate birthday cake at an office party will stumble you. Dick punching... argh!

Fortunately, we think we found him a permanent place this fall. One of my friends from grad school is looking for new roommates. She rents a house nearby and split between three people it's $400/month for everything. That's twice what he's been paying Mom, so he has to talk it over with his parents, who are bankrolling his return to school. He might have to take more out in student loans to cover it, though, because money is tight everywhere. And Mom, of course, suddenly has to make do without the extra money each month, without any notice. Not a great time since my contract work has slowed tremendously, and I'll be off work without pay three months from now, in addition to paying for stuff babies need, so if she needs help, we'll be struggling to help her out. You think any of those dickwads in The Cult will help her out if she needs it? Hell no. It's on us. Her family. You know, the people she's not technically supposed to talk to because we aren't members of The Cult.

So, I've just been on fire the past few days. Shit like this brings up all the trauma I endured from these whackos, and makes me seriously pissed off. I need to channel it into something positive, like start writing a book, but I'm still just too angry, even to file a lawsuit (although the best cause of action I can think of is intentional interference with a business contract, for which a lease agreement doesn't quite fit). I'd rather just punch someone in the dick.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

You can lead a horse to water...

You can't make people make good choices. Working in Family Law is a constant reminder of that. Then again, so is my own family.

I have a (now former) stepsister, thanks to my (now estranged) father's remarriage (and subsequent divorce). I've only met her once, and honestly, can scarcely recall doing so (they live in Minnesota). I am still in contact with my (former) stepmother, but recently my stepsister has been contacting me. Today she called me wanting information about child custody, because her ne'er-do-well baby daddy is threatening to get full custody of their infant daughter and is trying to kick her out of their apartment (because he's sleeping with someone new... and hopefully that chick is smart enough to make him use a condom, because he's currently married to someone else and has children with that woman to whom he isn't paying his child support, in addition to having fathered a child with my stepsister. Winner!)

Of course, I can't really help her (she lives in Missouri, I'm not licensed there), and could only tell her generally speaking that family court judges don't usually award sole custody to deadbeat dads with a (recent and ongoing) criminal record and an ongoing drinking problem, so don't let him bully you, but that she should go visit her local Legal Aid office before things go any further. Also, of course, that she should get rid of this loser as soon as possible, before she ends up on the receiving end of a removal order because she's endangering her child's welfare by keeping this drunken idiot around, and her kid ends up in foster care. Is she going to do so? No, of course not. Last time I talked to her about this, she "loves him." (Cue vomiting noise.) That inspired her to move to Missouri with him in the first place. Now he's threatening to leave her homeless and take their child. Love is not enough.

I don't know what makes women stay with losers like that, or even be with losers like that in the first place. Not that I have a lot of room to talk about making good choices when it comes to men, or about staying in bad relationships way too long, but shit, none of them were *that* bad and besides, once you have a child in the equation, you have to make the tough decisions to do what's best for your kid, not what you want, just because you "love him." Or because you don't want to live with family members who are going to treat you like a child and try to make you live by their household rules. You have to suck it up and do what's best for your kid, and if that means swallowing your pride and living with a grandmother who is a crazy Bible thumper, which is her only choice at this point, I think you go buy a Bible and thump it along with her until you can do better for your kid. Otherwise, when the Cabinet comes and takes your child, you don't have much room to say you aren't guilty of neglect because you didn't leave the drunken idiot when you knew he was a danger to your child.

But I don't have the answers. I don't know why something that seems very simple to me is very difficult for other people. I had a childhood friend who was in the middle of a family court action for neglect (again, thanks to the loser she was keeping around her kids) and was ordered to drug test. Even though she doesn't use drugs (she says), she wasn't making it in to test, because she didn't have a car and no one could give her a ride. She said she couldn't afford the bus fare to get there, and her Cabinet worker had dropped the ball on getting her a bus pass. I'm like, you can afford to buy cigarettes, but you can't afford bus fare? Really? You know, if I were in those court proceedings, and passing my drug screens meant I could get my kid back sooner, I'd effing walk there.

But I continue to struggle with this with my own clients. It's a lot of a failure to just follow through with basic things. For instance, I have one client who I need to get some records for a hearing that is next week. She cannot get me a signed release. I just need her to sign the thing and mail it back to me, and it's been two weeks and numerous emails from me and I just cannot get her to follow through. I can't figure it out. Then again, I can't get certain other clients to pay their damn bills either, so maybe I'm just missing something here.

I don't know what I can possibly do to make other people do what they should be doing, but if anyone has the answer to that, I will give you a cookie.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Interviews and other misadventures

Had my interview today, and I think it went okay. Hopefully they like me, at least enough for a second interview. I can never figure out how interviews go. The worst interviews I have end up with job offers, and the ones where I think, they love me, they will definitely hire me... I get no love. I at least tried to look my best. I struggled to stuff myself into one of my nicer suits that was too big for me prior to the pregnancy because of the weight I'd lost (in a size 14), but is snug now thanks to the baby bump. I didn't want to go to the interview in one of my usual frumpy maternity suits, that are actually made from washable material (probably good in case my water breaks in the middle of court or something horrific). However, it might have just looked painful, since I was ready to pop a button on my jacket. Ugh, pregzilla. So, we'll see if they're into me in spite of the baby bump. Apparently they aren't interviewing as many people as I initially thought they were, so that's cool.

The interview was a little awkward at times. Like, I totally suck at the "personal" questions. So, in an awesome Sarah Palin-esque word salad, I had to talk about myself, things that will make me stand out. (The word salad might just be it. But at least I wasn't rambling incoherently about events in American history, and failing at it.) They asked what I do in my free time. Obviously, let's not talk about gestating or child-rearing... so what else do I do? Self-aggrandizing blogging? Probably not a good idea. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol when not gestating? Nope. Liberal politics? Too risky. So, instead I outed myself as an epic nerd and started talking sci-fi. A gamble, but the lady was actually on my wavelength, and we talked Doctor Who. Not bad, I definitely appreciate fellow ladies who appreciate good sci-fi!

Anyway, the job sounds awesome. The billable hour requirement isn't bad (1800 hours a year), and hopefully the salary will be decent too. The last firm I interviewed with (that ultimately hired no one) only had a 1600 hour requirement. (Still disappointed about that one, they are really casual and fun.) The last midsize firm I worked for (that pushed me out during my maternity leave), after initiating an ugly coup against a named partner, started a 2000 hour requirement, which was completely laughable considering they only paid new associates $40K a year and liked to dump the non-billable subros on the unsuspecting newbies. (And they wonder why they're a revolving door for young associates, and why associates will walk out the door with a partners' clients and go to another firm.)

Other than the interview, I also had the follow-up ultrasound this morning. Since it was so early, we took Cora with us. She was pretty excited about seeing pictures of "her baby." (She's already claimed ownership.) She proudly showed off the ultrasound photo the tech gave her. All is normal so far, and there's still no penis. Cora would have been pretty devastated if her little sister turned out to have a penis, so that's good. Got another ultrasound scheduled for 32 weeks. I think we could probably be done with it at this point but, hell, since our insurance is actually covering these ultrasounds, why not.

Swim class is a bust, unfortunately. The Y sucks and wouldn't let us into the class, even though the class turned out to not be full, but they couldn't bother to get back with me even though I kept calling and bugging them about it. We were going to pay the non-member rate for the swim class, since Cora's friend is taking the class. I've kinda had it with the Y anyway, considering they recently jacked up their rates. We canceled our membership because of it, but were considering a summer membership for the pool, but they aren't offering any specials. It would be $400 to join for the summer, which is ridiculous. So much for the Y being for the poor folk. It's now one of the most expensive gyms in town, and definitely is not the nicest. Oh well. We'll look into swim classes somewhere else, maybe.

We did go to the pool yesterday, with our friends. It was nice to float in the water, it was the first time in several weeks that I felt like a normal weight, and not like I'm carrying a ton of bricks. I haven't even gained 10 pounds, but I feel like I've gained 100. Also, since I wasn't very pregnant during the summer the last time, I guess I didn't have the problem of (warning: TMI) not being able to prune my lady garden, because I can no longer even see my lady garden. Ugh! I need to make a salon appointment and get some waxing done, obviously.

Other goings on: Husband is probably going to cut off his limbs with a chainsaw, because he is convinced that is the proper method to dispose of the "junk tree" in our backyard, that he only suddenly cares about because our neighbor the master gardener mentioned it disapprovingly, as it is an "invasive species," whatever that means. (I figure if we leave it there long enough, she'll cut it down herself, kinda like how they edge our lawn for us. They clearly disapprove of us and our lame attempts at yard upkeep, they're just too nice to say so.) I have failed to convince him to hire a service to do it. A friend has convinced him to try a handsaw first, hopefully he'll only cut off a few fingers that way.

In other gardening misadventures, Husband was convinced that his new bird feeder could not be reached by the massively fat squirrels we have, eating everything in sight. The squirrels tore down the last feeder he'd bought and busted the thing open.

So, here was today's exchange:

Me: I thought you said the squirrels couldn't get to your new bird feeder?

Husband: They can't. There's no way.

Me: Funny. Because there's two of them out there making mad love to your feeder as we speak.

Husband: Damnit!!! Those bastards! (Looks out the kitchen window, and sees Big Fat Squirrel hanging upside down, embracing the feeder, and shoving his fat little face into the birdseed, while another is picking up his scraps from the ground underneath; cue Husband running outside in his underwear to shout obscenities at said squirrels while chasing them.)

Fun times.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Happenings

1. All work and no play. I opted to skip a second trip to Chicago Memorial Day weekend, in order to stay home and get work done. I was very productive, while Husband and Cora had a good time with his family. Husband's grandparents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary (with seven children and six children-in-laws, 21 grandchildren and 6 (almost 7) grandchildren-in-laws, and 6 (almost 8) great-grandchildren to show for), so they had a big party, including a pig roast.

Sorry to miss it, but I just couldn't take much more travel/time away right now. I used the time to clean our disgusting house and get some things organized, including my files. The only room left to organize is the new baby's room, which is currently filled with clothes that I can't wear right now, clothes Cora has grown out of, and various other things that need to be packed away. Once I get my clothes out, I'm letting Husband deal with the rest. Then we'll have to figure out how to turn it into a nursery, while still keeping the queen size bed in there. (Figure eventually the bed will be the kid's, so might as well leave it in there for now, provided it still fits with the crib in there.) So, now the idea is to start getting Cora to clean up after herself. She does it at school, she needs to start doing it at home. I reorganized her room so that she can get to all of her toys and put them back when she's done. We'll see how that goes.

2. Summertime. Soon, we start back with ballet classes for the summer. We're waitlisted for swim class at the Y, but they think we'll get a spot. And we went yesterday to observe another little girl's violin lesson, so we're thinking of starting violin in the fall. The little girl is 4 and she's playing actual songs on the violin, which I thought was pretty amazing. It'll be awhile before Cora can do that, I'm sure, but after interacting with her, the teacher thought she was ready. Usually she doesn't take students until 4 1/2, and Cora will be almost 4 when she starts lessons in August. Husband's balking at the price, but at $25 a lesson, that's only $5 more than I was paying for lessons a decade ago. Cora's really excited about it too. Maybe it will inspire me to buy a new A string for my violin (which I popped like a year ago) and start playing again. I need to buy new Suzuki books, mine are now 22 years old! (And I have no idea where the CDs are.)

3. Possibilities. That firm that I thought was totally not into me? They're totally into me! At least until they meet me on Monday and see my huge preggo belly. I'm obviously not going to mention the big elephant in the room (being me and my preggo belly), and hope they'll mistake me for just being a fatty. My gut isn't quite out past my bewbs yet (I have ginormous bewbs), so maybe they'll be totally impressed by me, fail to notice I'm pregnant, offer me the job, and then I'll be all, "What, like, really? You didn't notice I'm six months pregnant? Did you just think I'm hugely fat? I'm totally offended! And, yeah, I'll be needing a couple weeks off in September and a private place to pump my bewbs when I get back."

So, trying to not get my hopes up about the job, but I really want the job! I'm not in a position where I'm so desperate for a job that I'm applying to anywhere and everywhere and willing to work at some nightmare revolving-door firm. I'm making do just fine. But this firm has good people working in it, and I would like to work there too.

4. So I can put my car out of its misery and buy one where shit doesn't fall off of it. Money Pit is back in the shop. The check oil light flickered again, and it's low on oil, apparently oil leaking out of it. Mechanic says it's a valve bracket type thingamabob and nothing serious. But another $200 dropped. Awesome.

5. And can afford daycare for two children. We pay $166 a week for preschool for Cora, full time. Full time for infants at our daycare is now a whopping $207/week. For having two kids there, we'll get a 10% discount on Cora's tuition. $356.40/week for child care. Yikes. Still think we should find a part-time nanny and have Husband watch the baby on his days off work until the kid's old enough to give a crap where she is and what she's doing. We didn't put Cora into daycare until she was about 8 months old, fortunately my mom was able to watch her two days a week and we were able to work out the rest.

6. Anniversaries. I was pregnant on our one-year wedding anniversary, and I'm pregnant again on our five-year wedding anniversary, which is tomorrow. Five years. We got married the summer before I started law school, then delayed our honeymoon until the end of summer when I was ready to quit my job, spend two weeks in Europe, and come back to start law school. Five years later, we've got one kid and another on the way, I've been practicing law for two years, and he's been a nurse practitioner for one year. Lots of accomplishments!