August 24, 2006

Private Eyes Are Watching You

Posted in Office Hijinks at 9:34 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

Does anyone remember Spy Tech? It wasn’t really a toy, but it was sold at toy stores and it was a whole line of real working spy equipment marketed towards pre-teens. I recall specifically there was a fingerprint dusting kit and maybe a listening device. But somehow that seems unrealistic.

Anyway, my brother didn’t own Spy Tech, but he did develop a game by the same name where he would spy on me, or neighbors or family members. It became part of my family’s vernacular. For example:

Sister (clutching her Swatch phone to her chest): “Hey Spy Tech, I can see your shadow, I know you’re listening, now go away before I get Dad. (screaming) DAD!”

Now, my desk is by no means neat; however everything does have its place. On occasion I have come in and found a pile of papers shifted or my little penguin facing north instead of south. Sometimes I blame the cleaning lady. Other times my boss will admit that he grabbed a red well off the top of a pile just before the file sprawled across my desk blotter. Never did I suspect anyone had been snooping. That is until I came in and found a picture of my family completely out of place.

It is a favorite picture of mine; my brother, sister, father and I with our surfboards taken by my mother early on in the vacation when everyone is still getting along and all the smiles aren’t forced. It reminds me of sun and vacation and all the reasons why I continue to slave away and someone, during the night, had picked it up and put it back in the wrong spot and the whole episode left a bad taste in my mouth.

And it’s not just about the content of the picture. If I was really worried about people in my office seeing me in a bikini, I wouldn’t wear one every Friday during the summer. No I felt icky because my privacy had been invaded.

Now I am not stupid enough to leave anything personal or confidential out on my desk where anyone could pick it up and read it (instead I choose to post all that material on the World Wide Web). Still, it makes you wonder – what would drive such a person to snoop around someone else’s desk. It is like that person in an elevator that stands right next to you and doesn’t move despite the fact that the rest of the elevator is empty. That person is missing some essential synapse or twelve.

Still before I jumped to any conclusions my boss came around with my morning assignments. I asked him if he moved my picture. He said no and tried to go on with the morning’s business. However, I wanted to solve this crime against humanity and interrupted him to ask if he had seen anyone around my desk the prior evening. Again, he said no, told me to relax and then handed me two dictation tapes.

I sat down in a huff. I then grabbed the photo and tossed it in my bag.

As word got out about my morning other people from around the office came to me with stories of their own. A missing file here, mysterious filing there, stolen staple removers and lights left on when they swore they had turned them off. The beauty of most Spy Techs is that they are awful at it; ours was proving to be no exception. And while there were theories we had no proof.

That is until a member of the editorial committee caught Spy Tech, dead to rights, in her office searching through her things. My favorite part is when she asked him what the “h” he was doing he said looking for her Philadelphia Rules of Civil Procedure Book.

As she relayed the story, over a celebratory lunch, I imagined her leaning forward, reaching over his shoulder, pulling down the book that was on her shelf just behind Spy Tech’s head (and no where near where he was looking) and handing it to him with a smile.

Let this be a lesson to all you creeps out there – you will get caught. And when you do, I will write about it. And for goodness sake, as the elevator empties, shift people, there is no reason to remain glued to that spot.

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August 17, 2006

Here’s To Me, Ms. Klem

Posted in Office Hijinks at 3:09 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

I have always had a thing for younger guys.  I mean since I can remember I have liked guys younger than me.  Friends have stories about crushes on their older brother’s friends.  Not me, I had crushes on my younger brother’s friends.  As such, in the past, when we have hired a file clerk, the joke amongst ourselves was that each was a birthday present to me from the hiring committee.  Oh, don’t click your tongues at me, nothing has ever happened; and by nothing I mean, nothing more than a little shameless flirting. 

However, something alarming happened to me this summer.  No, they didn’t hire a female file clerk. Well they did, but it was in addition to the male one.  No, for the first time since being with the firm, I didn’t immediately develop a crush on the clerk. 

Now, being as objective as possible, Cabbage Patch, named for his baby face, is a very crush-worthy clerk.  He is tall with broad shoulders and a nice bottom and he has kind, blue eyes.  He has a good voice and never exhibited any disgusting habits like picking his nose or laughing like a hyena and did I mention it seems he may have had a crush on me.  So, I mean he has good taste. 

Last week I celebrated another birthday.  Over the course of the year I had found myself attracted to guys my own age and even (gasp) older guys.  Still I wasn’t ready to admit that I was giving up on the younger men until this much younger man started showing signs of having a crush on me and I didn’t even notice.  Worse, when it was pointed out to me I didn’t care.  Rather, I cared, but in an “ahh how cute kinda way.”  Not an “oh, he’s kinda hot way.”

Readers, understand Cabbage Patch may or may not actually have a crush on me.  By the time this is posted he will be gone from our firm having never expressed any desire for me.  He hasn’t even so much as suggested a drink after work.  But the important thing here is that my uncontrollable desire is to pinch his face, not suggest we go out for a milkshake, with two straws, and sit across from each other in a booth and just sip on our milkshake and maybe let our feet touch.

I used to be a huge proponent of having a crush.  There is something so healthy and freeing about having silly thoughts about someone you can never be with, or if actually given the opportunity, you wouldn’t be with.  Think about a young high school teacher, or a friend’s parent, or more currently, a local bartender.  These individuals are good looking, and nice to you, but it couldn’t or wouldn’t work out.  Still when you see the individual and a chill goes up your spine, your whole day is brightened and better; its just, for a lack of a better word, awesome.

But the rush of a crush does not compare to the one gets from being the object of a crush;   I’m not gonna lie and I will try not to gush.  (Apparently it makes you a huge fan of rhyming as well).  And even though in the back of my head, somewhere, I recognize that this role reversal is another indication that I am getting older, still the idea that this boy, okay man, but just barely, could have the hots for me makes me feel that much better about getting another year older.  After all what says “I still got it” more than the 22-year old-file clerk thinking I’m cute?

August 14, 2006

Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy

Posted in Happy Hour at 3:52 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

At breakfast one day, Cursey-girl, referred to as such for her ability to work the F-word into just about every sentence without sounding as vulgar as that sounds, hypothesized that we are all whores and that everyone has a price.

I immediately agreed with this statement thinking we were just talking in black and white terms. I have always been annoyed by people who say, “not for a million dollars.” Really? Someone showed you a million dollars and said, do that and you would really say no? I don’t think I would, but then again, I just admitted that I agree to the statement, “we are all whores.”

However, this is not the sort of thing Cursey-girl was talking about. C-g was much smarter or deeper or something and she was talking more about the price of your soul; the price of your dream.

See, a few years prior, C-g’s parents started to pressure her about her future. C-g just wanted to be a world-recognized women’s lightweight rower. Her parents wanted her to have a career. So she did what a shockingly large number of professional rowers do; she went to law school.

C-g’s dream was to win a gold medal at the Olympics, but the pressure from her parents and the enticement of money that a career in law had to offer was just getting too great. Suddenly Cursey was wondering if all the practice and sacrifice was the worth it.

I met Becky Sharp in a bar. My roommate is convinced that crazy people can just sense that she is a therapist. I sometimes wonder if drunk people can somehow sense that I use to be a bartender; because I certainly don’t have a face that says, “open up to me.” Still, Becky Sharp did. She told me all about how she was worried about finding a permanent job in the legal field and just how cutthroat the competition is out there and how she knows law firms operate as an all-boys club which only makes it harder for her.

Now, as luck would have it, seated on the other side of me at the bar was a partner of a center city law firm. Remember how I told you sometimes when I am bored I pretend I am Tina Yothers just for laughs. Well other times, when I am equally as bored, I stir the pot a bit; just to see what turns up. So I introduced Mr. Partner to Ms. Sharp with several thoughtful details that could easily turn into conversation topics.

Enough, with your judgment out there readers; if god didn’t want me to do these things, he wouldn’t leave me alone for very long.

The rest of the evening I sat back and smiled, enjoying what I had created. If the conversation slowed, I would pick it back up, he would start a story and I would sip my wine.

At some point, I excused myself to use the ladies room. When I returned, Ms. Sharp had slid into my seat. As I got closer I could hear her telling him stories about her experiences attending an all girl’s college. I grimaced and not just because I lost my seat.

If we are all whores, and the cost of Becky Sharp’s dream of a permanent position with a prestigious law firm was an evening spent flirting with a dirty old man, who am I to judge? But, if she was the prostitute, was I a pimp? Did I sell this girl’s hopes and dreams for my own entertainment?

She was an adult, I reasoned. I wasn’t forcing her to laugh at all his stupid jokes, or grab his thigh as she did so. I was just providing topics of conversations. I didn’t tell her to use her feminine wiles to help secure a position with his firm.

But it wasn’t fair that she had to flirt her way into a position. Male associate candidates certainly don’t have to. Then again, male candidates didn’t have that option available to them, which also doesn’t seem fair. However, Ms. Sharp, if she did secure a position, would never be invited to the boys’ nights out that her male counterparts most certainly would. So maybe it was okay that she used her good looks and laugh to win a partner’s heart.

I wonder where Susan Faludi and Gloria Steinen stand on this topic. Susan, Gloria, I imagine you both read my blog religiously, so please feel free to offer me some guidance here. Until then, I just don’t know if I will be able to feel good about the role I played.

August 4, 2006

They Shoot Non-Attorneys Here, Don’t They?

Posted in Happy Hour at 8:28 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

Last week I got a chance to meet my public at the YL Happy Hour Event at Davio’s, and I must admit I was a bit nervous leading up to the event.  As the day drew closer and more and more people joked with me about my celebrity status at this event, I started to choke on the fear that I was going to be found out.  See, readers, dear readers, I have a confession to make.  Something most of you may find quite shocking – I am not very funny in person.

In person, I am nervous and anxious and borderline neurotic because I am so afraid of saying the wrong thing or being perceived as bitchy or unprofessional or worse.  In the flesh, when I tell a story, it often goes on and on with lots of twists and turns and ” back to my point” to the point where I completely lose focus and the anecdote ends with “you probably had to be there.”

Sometimes I think I actually invented that phrase.

Friends often remark once I have finished telling a story, “that probably would have been really funny if you wrote it down.”

So the idea of meeting people that presumably find my writing funny and the knowledge that I am not that funny in person was enough to make me question whether or not I really wanted to attend this event.

Worse, these individuals that find me funny are attorneys.  I mostly make fun of attorneys and attorneys notoriously don’t like outsiders.

I got in the elevator to the penthouse with four male attorneys.  I stood in the back with my head down, but I could see the sideways glances.  Others, with a surer sense of self may think that these guys recognized my photo, but not me.  I knew that they knew.  They could sense it.  I was not one of them.  I did not belong at the happy hour for young lawyers because I was not a young lawyer. But all of that was forgotten when we stepped off the elevator and they were left to write their names on a sticker while I retrieved my pre-fabricated badge.

I entered the room and surveyed the situation.  I wasn’t scoping the room for myself; remember, I don’t date attorneys. But I am considering starting a sideline business as a matchmaker and thus was looking for potential guys to hook up with my fantastic friends.

The four attorneys I rode up with in the elevator were out, as they clearly had a problem with all non-attorney types and thus were not good enough for any of my friends, even my attorney friends.  However, the room showed a lot of promise.

Of course there were exceptions.  And as my life would have it, I only got around to talking to the exceptions.  Standing with my friends from the oldest law firm in the city, Tom Wolfe, with his big glasses and his scotch on the rocks, approached and in the middle of my sentence interrupted me to ask. “Are you an attorney?”

I could see what he was thinking even before he asked the question.  I responded honestly, shaking my head.

He raised his eyebrow and turned his attention to my attorney friends.

Now, see unedited Sarah would have gone on to point out that he was not young and walked away. Instead I stood there holding back laughter as Mr. Wolfe complimented my two friends and then insisted on having his picture taken with them.  See, sometimes it pays to not have gone to law school.

I was disappointed that I only seemed to have one uber-fan.  An older gentleman, who wasn’t an attorney either, approached me when I first walked in and told me he looked forward to the comic relief my blog brought him every week.

Still, I count the event as a resounding success.  I only had to skirt a couple of questions about the where I work and the true identity of the individuals in my blog.  I didn’t do anything to embarrass myself, my friends or my family and the food was freaking’ phenomenal.  You have not lived until you have had a cheesteak spring roll.

I Got Your Insight Right Here

Posted in Blog Backlash at 8:19 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

There is a lot about having this column and now blog that I don’t think I could have prepared myself for.  I was prepared for a certain amount of backlash from attorneys I know, but still haven’t met with much of that. I was prepared for some ribbing from co-workers, but aside from the occasional jab about not wanting something to end up in the column, that has even been minimal and most of the time all together avoidable.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the certain level of celebrity I have obtained, and by certain level I mean with family, friends and a few of you I met at the Young Lawyers Happy Hour.

But celebrity, even my miniscule amount has its downside.  Take for instance the guy I was seeing who wondered when he would make another appearance in my blog.  You all may remember him from his brief mention as a friend traversing the European continent.  Well, he made it back and now not only does he want a mention in the blog, he wants a nickname.  He thinks it will provide insight into my soul.

When did it all go so terribly wrong?

Remember when it was easier.  Remember sixth grade?  Remember passing notes, impossibly and beautifully folded into stars and arrows and messages for so and so’s eyes only.  At the end of the note was typically a question and accompanying the question, the option to circle one Yes or No. 

Now we go on dates, and have levels of commitments and conference calls with friends to dissect each and every email and a blog that gets written and read each week that not only entertains the masses (hey I am loved in Japan) but also provides insight into my soul?

Tony Hawk Jr. moved into our neighborhood just before the sixth grade started. He was riding his skateboard by my house one day as I was just getting back from walking my dog.  He stopped to write my address down on the underside of his board with the black sharpie he always carried with him.

A few weeks later, once school started he asked me out. As my mom cleverly pointed out, we never went anywhere, but it didn’t matter.  We were boyfriend and girlfriend.  We slow danced and school socials, we sat next to each other on the school bus to class field trips, occasionally he would skateboard after school at the mall and I would go and hang out with the other skater girlfriends. I think we may have even kissed once or twice.

He didn’t need a blog or my column to figure me out.  Of course he wasn’t dealing with all of my walls and insecurities and neuroses, but still.

And then he found out he was moving to Florida and we broke up.

And still, I can give my sixth grade boyfriend a nickname, but not him, He Who Shall Remain Unnamed.  I can’t.  I have racked my brain trying to come up with one and maybe it is just that my feelings for him are slightly more complicated than that which can fit into a clever and convenient little catch phrase. Chortlette is little and he doesn’t laugh, he chortles.  Senor Creepy is, well creepy.  Tony Hawk Jr. had blond hair and rode a Tony Hawk skateboard. There is no mystery here folks.

Oddly, this column and blog are about office life and attorneys and I fear no one from my office is taking away any lessons from what they read here, or using this information as insight into my motives.  Just the other day I was practicing my smile with a partner and after he left a girl nearby let me in on the fact that he was a total sleaze.  Well of course he is, but I’ve been told to be nice to everyone – even the sleaze.

The only one who seems at all effected by my work is Mr. Scares the Crap Out of Me.  I swear he is delighted by his infamy and new found stature and instead of shrinking away for fear of more exposure actually seeks out opportunities to make it into another one of these things.