August 2, 2007

I Think Cowards Are the People that Stick it Out

Posted in Lessons Learned at 1:42 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

When I was younger, my mother had a rule about not quitting anything we started.  Okay, let’s be frank, the woman had a lot of rules; but one rule that never changed and was often repeated was that we weren’t allowed to quit.   

This is why in the third grade the bridge on my cello broke and could not, mysteriously, be repaired. 

It is also the reason I was a cheerleader well into high school.   

However, sometimes quitting is the hardest, gutsiest thing to do.   

You know that I recently got a new job.  What you don’t know is that at the same time New Boss was conspiring to lure me away from Old Boss, I was out looking for a bartending job.   

I had my fill of feeling useless and underutilized and not very smart.  So I took a random Tuesday off, put on my cutest, most respectable looking white pants and booby top and headed to Old City in search of a serving job that would pay my bills and afford me time to get some writing done. The long-term goal was to either a) become a world famous author or b) get into a good MFA/PhD program and then become a world famous author.  Or at least teach others to do so.   

And I have to tell you, this plan scared the crap out of me.  What if I couldn’t make ends meet?  What if I didn’t get into a good program?  What if I did get into a good program, but it turns out I am a lousy writer?  What if I start teaching and a couple years into the whole thing, after I get married and have a mortgage on my home, I get sacked because it is against university policy to sleep with hot, male students in exchange for passing marks in freshman composition?

Those are a lot of “what ifs?”  But in the end, the idea of staying somewhere, doing something that I knew didn’t make me happy, scared me a whole lot more than what I didn’t know.   

Fortunately for me (and bar patrons everywhere, as I am a lousy, miserable server) New Boss called that very day with an offer of more writing, more growth, more freedom and more money. 

Puppy called me a couple days ago to tell me she had quit law school.  For those of you who don’t remember, Puppy was an original member of the editorial committee, a co-hort and a co-worker at the old job.  She had decided, long before she started with the firm, that she wanted to go to law school.  She took an LSAT prep course, she took the LSAT, she wrote essays, got letters of recommendation and sat quietly, waiting for letters of admission. When she finally found out where she could go, she packed up her belongings and moved to Michigan. 

After a year of lectures, study groups and law school exams, Puppy realized it wasn’t for her.

I told this to New Boss, not that he knows Puppy, but he does like to gossip, and he mentioned that after his first semester in law school, a professor advised his class that it wasn’t too late for them, that they didn’t have so much invested that if law school wasn’t what they had hoped, they could still walk away.   

Then, New Boss buried his head in his hands, shook his head and mumbled, “if only I had listened.”

I think this is something we all need to be reminded of every now and again.  Not just when we are sitting somewhere we really don’t want to be, but are still there because it is familiar.  I think this is also a good thing to remember when we are thinking about taking a big step and our fear of failing or making a mistake prevents us from doing it.   

Because while quitters may not always prosper, I don’t recall anyone getting very far sitting around doing nothing.  I mean, I had fill out three whole bartending applications before my dream job was handed to me. 



  1. Pieter said,

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    I’ve been working as a graphic/web designer for the past year and a half and have found it the most tedious uninspiring work! I can’t stand my job or the megalomaniacs who think a pretty flyer can change the world! I wanted to drop out of graphic design in my second year and do interior design/architecture, but decided to stick it through…well I’ve decided to tell them all to pick a finger! I’m enrolling to study architecture next year even though I’ll be ancient once I’ve graduated, but sometimes it’s better to take a leap, pursue your dreams and explore the unknown!
    {Prime example- I’m still at work and the sorry bastards are fighting over the placement of a tile on a freaking flyer! Aaarrrgghhh!!!}
    My point? Thanks for a great post! Your timing is PREFECT and your writing SPOT ON! I LOVE your blog – please don’t ever doubt your ability!

  2. A Real Legal Assistant said,

    I’m sure your new law firm must be “thrilled” to know that their new hire likes to flaunt it in a “booby top”. How thoroughly unprofessional.

  3. Holly said,

    Hey ARLA (aka A Real Loser A**hole):

    Don’t hate her cause you ain’t her! Jealousy does not become you….

  4. A Real Legal Assistant said,

    A little advice, dear Holly: Real professionals don’t espouse profanities in either print or verbally.

  5. Joe said,

    I’m sure your boss will be delighted to know that the (hack) employee he lured away from someone else publicly refers to him as a coward.

  6. Rich said,

    you know who the cowards are? the “writers” who blab on and on and on about work, being a bartender, and the endless pursuit of a masters in film, fine lit, or english.


    write something that makes a difference. write something that matters. write something that changes people.

    i don’t give a fuck about your law school hangover and early life crisis. if you’re a talented paralegal, then work it.

    if you have more inside you than this pathetic blog…THEN WRITE IT.

    save ths email. i want a roll in the sack when you win a pulitzer.


  7. Male Paralegal said,

    I’m a guy working at a law firm and I have to agree about it being unprofessional for Klem to to write about walking around in boob tops. There is no place for that in a law firm, if she wants to do that she should get a job at Delilahs.

  8. An Attorney with a sense of humor said,

    Wow… the various commentators above seem to be quite a fun group of people. It warms my heart to know that I work in a field chock full of judgmental holier-than-thou types.

    I think it is awesome to read other people’s blogs, and then leave comments behind telling the blogger just how much they suck. That is a terrific use of everybody’s time.

  9. Julius said,

    Et tu, Brutus?

  10. Balsy Maguire said,

    Opinions are like ________, so of course I have one too. I don’t know who these people are who fancy themselves fit to judge our lovely legal assistant, but I was fortunate enough to work with her. She is very professional–more so than most, I’d say. Clearly, she enjoys writing. I enjoy reading what she has to say and generally find it both humorous and insightful, not to mention well written. That’s why I visit this page: for enjoyable reading, not to bash the writer. Quite frankly, I can’t say I agree with the title of this one; but I still enjoyed it. Like Sarah, I too was taught to finish what I start, and it’s true that it hasn’t always left me feeling satisfied. (Incidentally, I support Puppy in her choide 100%.) I was also taught to say nothing if I have nothing nice to say. So, I’ll keep to myself my opinions of “A Real Legal Assistant” to myself.

  11. Jenifer said,

    Real Legal Assistant and Male Paralegal,

    Did either of you read the blog? She didn’t wear a booby top to work you freaks, she wore one to apply for jobs as a bartender! As REAL Legal Assistants I thought you would have paid more attention to the details of the blog.

    RLA- your life must be really great! Responding to blogs on a Friday night?! Seems like someone could use a little “booby top” in her life…

  12. A Real Legal Assistant said,

    Jenifer, dear, Jenifer, if YOU were observant, you would realize that the time stamp of the blog postings are off considerably. Or did you really post at 4:51 p.m. on Monday?

    Also, as for “booby tops”, one must carry themselves professionally both inside AND outside the office. THAT is the mark of a real professional.

    I would go on, Jenifer, but I learned a long time ago never to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed person…

  13. Julius said,

    Ouch! Nice smackdown!

  14. Balsy Maguire said,

    I have some more opinions: (1) If you steal it from a T-shirt or bumper sticker, it doesn’t qualfiy as a smack down. (2) If you are posting comments to a blog during the work day (a) you have no standing to comment on the marks by which a “real professional” may be identified; and (b) you have no business calling yourself “A Real Legal Assistant.”

  15. Jenifer said,

    Julius and ARLA you kids crack me up! Thanks for making me laugh outloud at work!

    ARLA, I’m guessing you wear that stick up your ass for all occasions and not just for work.

    Love you,

  16. Bemused said,

    RLA, Balsy, Jenifer, Rich, Joe…you are ALL wasting your time on such trivial matters. Let’s focus on a real issue: STOP THE WAR IN IRAQ NOW!

  17. Fox Blockhead said,

    If the Brooks Brothers Devil is serious about considering working at Delilah’s, she should tryout at an amateur night. Just remember: a ‘D’ grade is better than an ‘A’! 😉

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