September 28, 2006

Consider This My Notice

Posted in Office Hijinks at 5:40 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

Since leaving Allentown when I was almost 18 years old I have moved approximately 45,000 times.  From dorm to apartment in North Philly, to dorm to house in Center City to house in Fairmount to dorm, back to house in Fairmount to friend’s apartment in Fairmount to my own apartment and on and on until I finally settled down in Queen Village. 


Having moved so many times I have the process down to a science.  My secret – pack for three days and throw the rest away.  I don’t know if it was born out of laziness or boredom, but I have found this technique really does result in the most effective and efficient moves.  Sure, sometimes a few months down the road I may find myself searching my kitchen for my heart-shape pancake maker, but even then I am not all that upset when I realize it didn’t make the cut.  After all, was I really going to make heart-shape pancakes?


So, now our firm’s moving and since my boss is the administrative partner a lot of responsibility has fallen on my shoulders.  And let me tell you, my three days of packing were over a long time ago. 


The real problem is that files are not like fashion.  The old “if you haven’t worn it in a year – throw it out” rule doesn’t really apply.  I, for one, have a real problem wrapping my head around that.  So I included others in the decision making process. I emailed everyone saying, “Hey, I have these files and they look totally old, but I will box them and move them if you tell me to,” but to no avail.


I made lists, enumerated boxes, moved redwells so that client files were grouped together, but no one noticed.  I consulted Excel spreadsheets and document management systems and our shared server, but no one cared.  No matter how hard I tried to get someone to claim responsibility for these files dating back to a time when Christ wore short pants, no one would step forward. 


Maybe they didn’t want to admit they were that old.  Maybe they were too old to remember they ever worked on these particular cases.


After weeks of trying to clean out the file areas and preparing everything for the move, my boss hanging on by a string, the big burly movers on their way, I was finally given the green light.  “If you think it should be thrown away, do it.” 


I have never been an arsonist; on the two occasions I have camped I was awestruck as my roommate built a campfire.  However, I imagine what I felt was similar to what an arsonist would feel if they were handed a pack of matches in a house made of rotting wood.


That day at lunch I gloated over my triumph with members of the editorial committee.  As I talked numbers of boxes to be thrown away, the Patient Paralegal’s eyes rolled into the back of her head and she almost passed out in her Sesame Chicken.


It seems the Patient Paralegal is also a pack rat.


I suppose the fact that P.P. has been with the firm through a couple of moves, several managing partners and multiple billing software programs, skews her point of view.  Typically P.P. is the one left when the irate partner looking for a file that is long since tossed.  This is probably why every single piece of paper ever handed to P.P. is copied immediately. 


She still has every single copy.


P.P.’s reaction got me thinking.  What is going to happen if someone comes looking for these files?  Mind you, I didn’t lose any sleep over this fear.  Most nights I leave the office and completely forget I have a job (alcohol helps) but as I sat at my desk, when I probably should have been concentrating on something else, or during one of the several meetings about this move, the thought did occur to me that I could get in a lot of trouble.


So I resolved to get married.  I am going to marry a really rich man this weekend, quit my job and let Patient Paralegal deal with the fallout from my trashing spree. 


She can also finish boxing up all the files I didn’t get to yet.