Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

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

Curtain Down

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Total Black: $109.51
Total Red: $238,469.56

Today was my last day as an usher at New World Stages.  Curtain down on my ushering career.  It was sad night.  In many ways actually, a few more that I expected. 

I worked fairly normal hours at the contract attorney position: 10:30am to about 5:45pm.  Well, maybe those are more like associate-normal than temp attorney-normal but that’s small beer.  I left for a 6pm shift at the theatre.  And, as I mentioned back in Saying Good-Byes, I scheduled my good-bye party for tonight.  Since today spilled over into tomorrow, I’ll be spreading my discussion of today over two posts.

Initially I had been scheduled to work a 6pm ticketing shift, then a 7pm ticketing shift, and then my Friday-night routine: a 9:30pm shift as head usher for Naked Boys Singing.  That wouldn’t work too well with a party scheduled to go from 7pm to 11pm, so I got another usher to cover my 7pm ticketing shift, leaving me free from 7pm to roughly 9:30pm to meet and greet any guests.  My thinking was that if anyone was going to show, they’d probably show earlier rather than later, especially on a Friday before a holiday weekend, right?  Well, I was somewhat mistaken.

No one showed!

Well, not quite, no one, but there I was.  Standing around for nearly the first hour, looking like an orphaned child, all those people buzzing around, and no one there to see me.  Nothing compares to that feeling: like throwing a birthday party when no one shows.  You feel like some ten-year-old again, rejected by all of the other school kids.  So I stepped out to order take-out at a nearby restaurant.  In the back of my mind was the old adage: a watched pot doesn’t boil.  But still no one showed.  But then, a bit after the shows went up, and right when I was feeling the bluest, the co-worker I mentioned back in Once Around the Sun stopped by with a good-bye gift.  She bought me copies of Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean by Edward Kritzler and Caribbean by James Michener.  Just as I unwrapped the gifts, and was nearly moved to tears, two more people walked in: a former colleague from the law firm and her husband.

The four of us chatted for a bit, and once the discussion turned a bit too lawyerly, my co-worker took her bow and went back to work.  As I spoke with my former colleague from the law firm a few more co-workers from the theatre trickled in.  Of course I invited all of the people I work with at New World, and nearly all said they’d attend.  But when I said “no one” above, I did that for emphasis.  I don’t mean to diminish my co-workers in any sense.  But they  were working for the most part, and could just stop by on a break and have “attended.”  Not precisely the same as actually coming from elsewhere.

I had used Facebook to invite people.  Probably not the best choice as I tend to ignore Facebook event invites myself.  Evite may have been a better medium.  Most those invited didn’t even RSVP and the majority who did worked at the theatre.  Got me wondering about my “real” friends and all since of the 115 people in the New York area who I invited, only three people showed who didn’t also work at New World Stages.  Three.  Well, four technically, since one former colleague brought her husband.  The bulk of the people who RSVP-ed (why isn’t there a verb for that action), and who showed, were non-lawyers.  Curious observation, right?  And as 7pm approached, I started getting a slew of changed RSVPs messages with last-minute apologies.  I don’t get lawyers.

Frankly, though, it worked out well.  You’ve gotta think quality not quantity, right?  And that’s just what it was actually.  I’d never been in the Time Out New York lounge during walk-in for the shows.  And tonight we had Avenue Q, The 39 Steps, and White’s Lies all going up at 8pm.  Since it was a holiday weekend, all three were practically, if not actually, sold out.  If anyone had showed during that first hour from 7-8pm, and didn’t work at New World Stages, they probably wouldn’t have been able to find me in the crowds!  Not the wisest of plans or places in retrospect.  Had 115 people showed—or even 15—we wouldn’t have had anywhere to congregate until after 8pm when the shows went up.

So from around 8pm to approximately 9:15pm or so, I talked with my former law firm colleague.  We caught each other up on our goings-on.  She mentioned that the small law firm she had been working at had hired contract attorneys for document review.  And since they had never done that before, they asked her how to go about it, should they go through a temp agency, and if so which one.  She told them no, that they should just hire attorneys directly, and since she had former colleagues who were out of work, she got them the positions.  At $65.00 an hour plus overtime!  Moral of that story is to keep in contact with colleagues.  She didn’t reach out to me with the opportunity because she thought I was still working pro bono at the local DA’s office.  I had left that position nearly a year prior.  But I didn’t think to let people know that.

So, 9:30pm rolled around and brought with it my final shift.  Fairly uneventful too.  Shortly after I began it, my supervisor mentioned that someone else had arrived and that I could sneak out to say hello.  Another former colleague from the law firm had arrived, one whom I was quite close with and who had written recommendations for both clerkship offers.  (Note I still haven’t received a rejection from the federal clerkship in Scranton.  How unprofessional.)  We chatted a bit but duty called, so I left her with the other colleague to chat and catch up.

Before the show went up a few more theatre co-workers stopped by to say good-bye.  And once the curtain closed, I walked in to the office to turn in my name tag.  My supervisor refused at first to take it.  Then he gave me a hearty bear hug and wished me well.  Off I went back to the lounge to check on my “guests.”  One more former law firm colleague had arrived.  The three of them had been close while at the law firm, so I suspected my good-bye party may have been part pretext for getting together, but that mattered not really.  I’m happy to be the catalyst.

Of course, by the time I returned to the lounge, those who had been hanging out waiting for me were quite . . . relaxed.  And now that I was off-duty, everyone wanted to buy me drinks.  I ended up chugging shots and drinks in short succession.  Co-workers and colleagues prying me with liquor.  It was nice to have a small group there.  But then came the moment of truth: last call.  And I had to decide where to go next, and with which group: the lawyers or the actors.  And just before we left, I said my good-byes to the remaining co-workers at the bar, including one with whom I had gotten fairly close over the past few months.  A few tears fell.

Working at that theatre was one of the best and most enjoyable periods in my life.  I never felt more at home, more welcomed, more relaxed, more myself than anywhere else.  Not in law school or at the law firm.  Not at the DA’s office or on a temp job.  Not even back when selling art.  At the theatre job, I knew that I could be myself and let my hair down and not be judged based on immutable characteristics like age or sexuality.  And it wasn’t lip-service either.

I will miss it and all the friends I made there.

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