Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

Adventures of a Temp Attorney

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Total Black: $229.97
Total Red: $230,366.57

Someone needs to make a movie out of the temporary contract attorney experience.  Maybe if my own adventures in getting out of debt in a year are sufficiently compelling that some filmmaker takes interest, then he or she can at least weave some gems from the temp job into a scene or two.  I referenced a few of the loony tunes I’ve already heard about when I wrote Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom.  I’m starting to have some stories of my own.  I suppose I should first set the scene.

Picture it: New York, 2009.  A large office space in Manhattan.  The room is full of tables, two computers on each.  People sit in long rows both across from and next to each other.  The room is full.  You can’t fit another person in it.  All the computers are on.  There are no dividers between work-spaces.  Everyone can see each other’s monitors . . . unless you got there very early on the first day and grabbed a spot in the row by the windows.  All walks of life are represented.  And, despite any assumptions, all ages.  It’s not just a space full of youngish attorneys unable to find permanent employment, or their now-similarly situated peers recently laid-off.  There’s a few people over sixty and some in their early twenties, with the bulk in their late thirties or early forties.  All day long there’s a low murmur of voices.  And all day long people are moving back and forth, throughout the rooms, getting up to go to the bathroom, to the kitchen, to the elevators, and back again.  By the end of the night as much trash has accumulated as a suburban McDonald’s.  And then they’re back the next day to do it all over again.

Fairly ordinary, no?  That is, until this guy walks past you towards the other end of the room where he turns on one of the fans (internal climate controls are confused by the warm weather).  Holding the fan, he leans it back so that it’s aiming at the ceiling.  Then he bends over into the blowing air and stands there drying his head.  A minute later he turns the fan off, returns to his seat, and resumes his work.  Later on, one of the older women (who, it seems, wears a wig every day) walks past heading to the kitchen.  She returns a moment later carrying a worn-down, beaten up old broom and a file folder.   In the month of October, it’s a very comical site to see people and brooms, and even more so when it’s a woman in her sixties, wearing black, with crazy hair.  I joked that she must have just flown in.  A beat later she’s back to the kitchen with the file folder, presumably having swept something up by her table.  Then there’s the associate who seems to pace all day, going from room to room but never actually doing anything.  And the woman in her forties, dressed like she’s in her twenties, but styled liked it’s 1998, with imperfectly dyed hair and a fake pony tail.  And who can forget Smiley: the dude who always looks like he’s about to crap his pants—the grin on his face goes from one ear to the other.  (I want whatever drugs he’s on.)  I’ve already mentioned the guy who sits at his workspace all day on an exercise ball.

I’m left wondering chicken or the egg here.  Did years of doing this work turn them this way or are they in this line of work because they couldn’t get anything else.  The answer’s probably both or in between.  But it just amazes me to see all these . . . umm . . . eclectic . . . people and their . . . umm . . . individuality.  I’m grateful that I get to break the insanity everyday by leaving in the afternoons for the Recession Art Sale.  Or maybe I’m that weirdo who leaves money on the table each day to go try his hand at selling art.  Eh . . . so be it.  If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

October 5, 2009 at 23:58

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