Thursday, April 16, 2009

Oh, Passover, why did you have to end so quickly? Usually I'm the first one to speak out against holidays, for the way they guilt us into letting people go home for a few hours, or the way they remind us that for some people there are things in their lives besides the job, but Passover's one of the few I like. First of all, no one's allowed to use it as an excuse to miss work, because the celebrating happens after sundown. Which, I hate to admit, is usually the time of day when things slow down a little bit, and if an associate must leave the office for an hour to have dinner with his family, two nights out of the year, it's not the end of the world. But second, and here's the great part: we get eight days of significant savings to the firm as far as bagel and muffin costs, doughnut costs, sandwiches, cookies. For years now, I've made it part of the official schedule to celebrate all spring birthdays during Passover so as to save on the birthday cake costs.

There's also something about the story of Passover that's always spoken to me. The Jews had no time to let their loaves rise before leaving the desert, so they just took the unleavened bread and ran. It's about sacrifice and knowing what's important. The bread wasn't important. The good meal, the time to linger, the socializing, the hobbies, the fun -- all of that wasn't important at all. What was important was the job at hand, no matter the sacrifices. And that's really all we ask of our attorneys here. To put the job first. And if that means running out of your house in the morning with a frozen waffle you don't have time to throw in the toaster, so be it. If that means darting out of your son's Little League game the instant after he gets beaned in the head, because you know you don't have time to take him to the hospital and you just can't take the risk that if you rush over to see how he's doing, it's going to end up being a three-hour adventure in the emergency room and so it's better to just sneak out and pretend you were never there, then that's the price you have to pay. Being a professional success has its costs.

Sure, some of you are probably thinking that I'm completely missing the point of the Passover story, and that in reality the Jews were rushing to escape slavery -- to escape the same kind of slavery conditions with which we treat our associates. But I don't think that's the right interpretation. Poverty is slavery. Laziness, lack of ambition, wasted time -- all of that is slavery. Wealth, power, modified and highly-restricted expense accounts -- that's the kind of freedom the Jews were running toward, and that's the kind of freedom working at a place like this provides.

At least it's a better lesson than Easter, which mistakenly teaches associates that things can come back from the dead. They can't. Reputations, careers, the deal that you spent three years working on only to see it fall apart at the very last minute over a technicality -- they're all gone. Once they die, they die. Nothing comes back, no one gets a second chance, no one gets resurrected once an opinion is formed. You're either partner material or you're not. You're either a worthwhile human being, or you're not. Jesus clearly was not. He was dead. He should have stayed that way. A firm would have never let Jesus return to work if he misses three days being crucified. Crucifixion is no excuse for staying home. If he rose three days later, and was an employee of this law firm, he would have found that his office had already been assigned to one of the lawyers who'd been working in a bathroom stall due to lack of space, his chair already stolen by some idiot from trusts and estates, and his life insurance policy voided due to a technicality we invented. No one would be celebrating his return, we'd just be calling security.

I am, however, okay with Maundy Thursday, because they're exactly right -- the Last Supper should definitely be on Thursday if you already know you're going to be working the weekend. Eat the rest of the meals at your desk. Finish up, gobble down the food, and get back to the office.

Incidentally, you know what I gave up for Lent? Granting vacation requests. It was so easy, I'm going to pretend it's Lent all year round.

Welcome back! You never fail to crack me up.

PS: gave up whingeing during Lent. now I'm just doing overtime.
Welcome back!

God I missed this wit and humor!
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