Monday, January 08, 2007

My colleagues in New York have been e-mailing all day telling us about a rotten smell permeating the city today. I assumed it was the stench of non-profit work, but they're saying it smells more like a gas leak. Subway lines were halted, and a few buildings closed, but work at the firm's New York office was unimpeded, despite the odor apparently causing a handful of paralegals to faint. Well, the odor or twenty-four straight hours of work. Doesn't really matter. The firm's blaming the odor. We had some odor problems here last week, but it was just a new secretary who we've since terminated. She didn't read the personal hygiene memo very carefully. "Shower daily, even if you have to do it in the office." We've had associates who forget to bring backup business suits and end up having to wear the same thing for days at a time if they're stuck here working on something that consumes them for a while. We hired an outside concierge firm to serve as "personal shoppers" and pick up new clothes for associates in a pinch, at just a 33% markup over cost. It's not a bad deal. It's how I buy all my holiday gifts.

The one benefit of the New York odor issue was that it kept anyone from leaving the office for a while. No trips to Starbucks, no smoke breaks, no walks around the block just to escape the overwhelming stress of the office. That's one thing the warmer-than-usual weather out there has been screwing around with. Usually the New York office bills some extra hours in the winter because no one wants to step outside into the cold. But when it's 70 degrees in January, people want to be outside. At least they have BlackBerries so the partners can coerce them back in. I e-mailed the people who make the BlackBerry to suggest a new feature for the next version: a buzzer that emits a small electric shock, so that whenever someone gets a new message, they really feel it in their veins and we can condition them to stay in the office instead of trying to work remotely. Keep 'em at their desks, that's the goal.

As if there weren't enough reasons to be out here instead of in Manhattan, this odor should get us a few more applications for transfer. The transfer program is terrific. People are so grateful for a change of scenery that they're willing to do pretty much whatever we say. Not that they aren't anyway. Really it's just a cornucopia of riches. Everyone's been beaten down so much that they listen to whatever we say. Too bad they're all incompetent.

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