Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sorry for the long delay between posts. I was trying to paper-train this new dog Ellen DeGeneres gave me. And then the media got involved, took the dog away, my kids were in tears, it's been a rough past few weeks. Ellen's dog controversy makes sense to me. I side with the animal shelter. You can't just give important things away without making sure the recipients meet certain standards. It's the same way with assignments. Associates can't give assignments to their colleagues without getting permission first. Every associate brings a certain set of liabilities to the table, and when I assign someone a project, there's a reason. It's not like all of the associates are interchangeable parts who could all do the monkey-work we give them. It's not like all the associate assignments are garbage that any moron could do if only they put in enough mindless hours staring into their computer screens.

Oh, wait, no, I'm getting assignments mixed up with something else. Suits. They can't trade suits because not everyone is the same size, and some associates are men and some are women and some are neither. So we can't have them trading clothing without permission. But assignments? Who cares, it's all just to keep them busy and ratchet up the client bills, so if someone wants to take someone else's task, I don't care as long as it gets done. And if someone wants to take everyone else's task, great, SuperAssociate can do all the work and still make the same salary and get the same bonus as everyone else, and still have no idea whether or not he's going to make partner until it's too late and he's poured his entire soul into this place.

I overheard two associates talking about how they feel like they have to put their personalities in a box when they come to work every morning. I challenge that on two counts. One, it's a waste of boxes. We need boxes for documents. There will never be enough boxes. The number of documents associates need to sort through is infinite. We need an infinite number of boxes to hold them. Despite the "computer age," everything still goes in boxes. Even computers come in boxes. Two, they should not be coming to work "every morning." There should be nights they never leave. So there should be mornings they are already here and thus do not need to arrive. If there are associates coming to work every morning and leaving every night, we need to give them more assignments, or demand more from the assignments they do have.

The only reason I have time to post today is because a deal I've been working on for the past six and a half years just fell through. A senior associate who's been with the case since the start, and has put almost twenty thousand hours on it, started crying. "So my entire time at the firm has been for nothing, it's a waste," he said. Crybaby. It's not a waste. The client still paid. It's not like anything monumental was going to happen in this guy's life once the deal closed. For him it shouldn't matter. It's a problem when associates get too invested in the work. They're drones. If they care whether or not the deal closes, they know too much. I don't like to even tell my associates the big picture. They don't need to know what they're working toward. Most of them would quit if they knew the secrets our clients have, if they knew the ends we were the means to help our clients achieve. We cash checks from some evil people. But I want to protect my associates. They don't need to know the truth. Partners are the only ones who need to know, because we make enough money that we can drown the truth in expensive luxury goods. It's amazing how much you can forget when you spend your six hour annual vacation on your yacht. It's amazing how much you can forget when you buy black-market sleeping pills and develop a crippling dependency.

My daughter had a birthday last week. I forgot. My wife thought it would be fun to see how long it would take me to remember. It took four days. I walked in on her birthday sleepover party and it still didn't hit me. I threw down my briefcase on top of the half-eaten birthday cake, walked upstairs, swatted aside the balloons, shoved the wrapping paper down in the trash can (or maybe I just told our housekeeper to do it, I can't remember), and collapsed on the fold-out couch (my wife and I have been sleeping separately for a while now), without ever realizing. It was only when I saw she updated her Facebook profile with pictures from the party that I realized what I'd missed. So I put a message on her Wall and hopefully that'll take care of it. I'm going to text her later just to see if she'd logged in yet to read it.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?