Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

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

Nine to Five

with 9 comments

Total Black: $65.42
Total Red: $230,428.97

No, not a Dolly Parton gig (but I’ve provided the song anyway for your listening enjoyment!). 

Just the routine I’m writing about here.  It’s been keeping me busy, as the commenters noted.  They beat me to this post, if you will, as I’m actually writing this two days after posting my financials.  My work schedule has been hectic lately and it got me thinking a bit about work schedules, past and present.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a nine to five job before now.  I’ve worked as a paperboy, a dishwasher, a supermarket cashier, a sales clerk, a telemarketer (both cold-calling and catalog orders), a high school teacher while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, a teacher’s aid and a research assistant, and a law firm associate.  Since starting this project I can ad art seller, contract attorney, and theatre usher to that list.  None of those jobs had me working a set nine to five shift, until now.  I think that explains a little why I was unhappy at the law firm.  My entire working life has been sporadic and without routine.  But now I’m finding that incorporating other gigs into my routine really fills a hole I never noticed was there.

At the moment, I work from around 9am until about 5:30pm every day as a contract attorney downtown.  I leave from there and return to my apartment for a few minutes to change into black pants and my New World Stages shirt and then head over to the theatre.  I typically return home, for the night, around 10pm, roughly twelve hours after starting my day.  About sixteen months ago, while at the law firm, I’d work the same “schedule” only to return home exhausted.  I’d routinely sit in front of the television for hours, smoking cigarettes, trying to squeeze a few drops of personal time out of the remaining hours in the day.  I couldn’t let myself just go to sleep because then for certain my life would have been my job.  I would have slept, awoken, gone to work, returned home, slept, awoken, gone to work, etc., ad nauseum.  As illogical as it might seem, I wasn’t willing to let myself slip into that routine, and yet I was too beat after all those hours at the firm to go out and socialize.  Plus, to be honest, I lived in Brooklyn at the time and it wasn’t all that convenient to head back into the city and I didn’t really live in walking distance from any cool spots.

The truth, though, is that I was often exhausted from doing nothing at the firm.  Like many large law firm associates, I stuck around a bit later to order food on the firm’s dime while showing everyone else that I could stay late too.  It was silly.  It led to weight gain and dissatisfaction.  And no one ever called to check if I was still in the office.  Now that I have a set time frame—we can’t start earlier than 9am and can’t work past 7pm and can only put in forty hours a week—I’m actually enjoying the experience, mostly because it frees up my nights and weekends to do other things, like work as an usher or an art seller.  And now, unlike before, I’ve been coming home and really don’t even want to bother with the television.  I’m too tired.  But it’s a good tired.

I think the social element is what I missed when I worked at the firm.  People really didn’t get to know each other, not in the joking around sort of way.  We maintained professional distance.  So, when I got home, I could at least watch people socialize on television and live that world vicariously a bit.  That’s not the case at the theatre.  It’s not that type of work environment.  People are professional but with their job not with each other.  It’s a difference few understand.  The working class world does though.  I grew up hearing my mother talking about the “ladies at work,” how the ladies at work said this or did that.  Sometimes she was angry, but more often than not she enjoyed the people she worked with.  She still goes out with many of them now that she’s retired.  My father too often talked about the guys he worked with.  He’d spend hours on the phone chatting with them only to see them later in the day.  I’ve met up with people from the Recession Art Sale a few times now and we often socialized after the show and I’m getting there with the other ushers.  Perhaps I’ve been missing that aspect of the blue-collar world.  I think I can count on one hand the number of times I hung out with attorneys after work.  We’re just an unhappy bunch.  Seems to be true of many in the white-collar world.  We just rush home every evening after working hours at their jobs, too happy to be away from co-workers  . . . er, sorry, it’s colleagues in the white-collar world.  Maybe this too is why I’m liking this nine to five gig, because it limits my time with other attorneys!

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

December 14, 2009 at 22:23

9 Responses

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  1. Come on laid off – what the hell are you doing??? Working??? Jeez, I like reading your blog — come on man get on it!!

    ladybug

    December 15, 2009 at 18:54

  2. I wrote elsewhere for you not to worry about nasty remarks – I wanted to add it’s not worth it. It’s probably some fat guy in his underwear in his mom’s basement in Hackensack.

    ladybug

    December 15, 2009 at 19:02

  3. Hi LoL-

    I’m with Ladybug- I appreciate your need for income, but I also look forward to your new posts…I also agree that you’ll get positive and negative feedback. Maybe the best way to look at it is that you never know what might inspire a great idea!

    Anyway, I hope that you are getting a little bit of time to yourself and that you are having some fun too!

    Kathleen

    December 15, 2009 at 22:01

  4. I’m gettin’ there; I’m gettin’ there. But shame always works on me. Must be that Catholic upbringing. 😉 Thanks for the encouragement, ladies. No time to myself yet but I’ve been enjoying my gigs so far.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    December 16, 2009 at 08:08

  5. I burst out laughing right on street when I read this post. Quite a visual.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    December 16, 2009 at 08:09

  6. Hi LoL-

    Your observation certainly applies to my life. The friends I made in my years in the restaurant business are a varied bunch in every sense- interests, former/other careers (professor, photographer, brew master, wedding planner, retired military etc…), countries they are from or have been to, and on and on. What they have in common is that they are all more interested in who someone is than who they know or how much money they make. Working at a law firm I found many of the other attorneys to be frosty at best. It took me a long time to become friendly with a few others there. I think that many people who seek out legal careers might be seeking out the image and status as much or more than what they spend so many hours doing, so they surround themselves with people who are doing the same thing or can get them there. It strikes me as a sad, limiting way to live your life. Plus not everything great that happens happens in a law office. I got an amazing internship during law school from a very nice customer at the restaurant who never mentioned that he was among other things a Nobel laureate. We started talking one night and it led to a great working relationship. Who knows who might walk into that theater and change your life?

    Kathleen

    December 16, 2009 at 21:49

  7. Very true. Big firms can be kind of cold. I spent several years working with “frosty” people – and there were times I did not have time for my family – esp. my parents. A few days ago I found out dad is critically ill and I have to travel abroad. I hope I make it. The last time he was here I was so worried about work – I hardly spent time with him. And now he may be gone — all for what? You lost your dad right? Did you write anywhere about that loss and how you coped ?

    ladybug

    December 21, 2009 at 22:55

  8. I’m really sorry to hear that, ladybug. I hope he makes it through ok. Do what you can to be there with him. I wasn’t there with my father all because of law school and on-campus interviews starting up. He passed in August as school was resuming. Then I wasn’t there for my family after the funeral because I had to rush back to school or I would have missed interviews. I never really got time to mourn.

    Take the time you need. In the West, death has become an inconvenience. Other cultures take weeks of time to process their grief. We don’t. A few days later and it’s supposed to be back to normal. Only way to push back against that is to just start pushing.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    December 22, 2009 at 08:48

  9. Hey Laid-Off – thanks for your comments. We heard he is better – but I will be leaving soon to see him. I liked this post a lot – I think we could all use a little more humanity in our work places. When I work at ruthless and mean places I end up being meaner to my loved ones – but they are really all you got at the end of the day – jobs come and go, life does not. We all have to suck it up some times – but the cold bastards better watch out – they can’t keep pulling this shit!! It’s going to come back and bite them in the ass – I hope!! And if it doesn’t I will ….bite them in the ass, that is. Merry X-mas…

    ladybug

    December 25, 2009 at 15:55


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