February 8, 2008

STYMIED!

Posted in Office Hijinks at 7:20 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

Have you ever been sitting in front of the TV with the remote in your hand, when you nod off, drop the remote and are awakened by the sounds of a television show wholly unfamiliar to you.

Or maybe you are like my dad, and you fall asleep in your recliner and then your wife pries the channel changer out of your grip and you wake up exclaiming, “Hey, I was watching that.”

Or maybe you have gotten so fat from holiday eating and not sticking with your new year’s resolutions that you don’t even feel it when you are sitting on the remote. Then, when you lean forward to get a handful of popcorn or chocolate or some other tasty television-watching snack, your shifting weight changes the channel for you.

Regardless, you are sitting there, watching one thing and then suddenly you aren’t. And the switch is never a subtle one. You are never watching, Rock of Love II, for example, and then suddenly watching The Girls Next Door. That sort of switch one might not even notice until the program comes back from commercial.

No, typically the switch is quite severe. One minute you are catching the E! True Hollywood Story of Eighties Child Stars and the next you are watching a History Channel biopic on the real Oscar Schindler.

Well, imagine that feeling of complete confusion and multiply it by 1000 and then you may begin to comprehend what it is like sitting through a meeting with New Boss and the Oracle (formerly known as one half of the tag-team duo His Two Bosses).

Now, you know, I am pretty good at tuning out during meetings, but still being able to take away all the important and necessary details. Well, the secret to this parlor trick is training your brain to mostly listen for key trigger words when others are talking off topic. For example, when the group starts talking about the formerly undefeated New England Patriots, I tune out and start thinking about, oh, I don’t know, what Jerkface is doing at that very moment, all the while listening for someone to say, “but back to the point,” which is when I will turn my full attention back to the meeting.

But New Boss and the Oracle aren’t so kind as to provide transitions from their off-topic tangents. No. Just like when I lean forward to grab my glass of wine and then suddenly I am no longer watching a Law & Order re-run, one minute I will be writing out a grocery list the very next minute everyone will be staring at me waiting for my opinion.

There we were, discussing relevant, important topics to the firm and without a moment’s hesitation, we were talking about the Oracle’s sons. Then, almost as if he didn’t hear the Oracle, New Boss continued on with the discussion at hand. And, as if the Oracle had never broken in with the off-topic comment, he responded back.

I blinked rapidly a few times. Was I the only one that could hear the off-topic banter? I tried to catch someone else’s eyes to shoot the what-the-heck-is-wrong-with-the-Oracle-look, but no one was obliging.

Then it happened again. This tangent was a bit longer, with more people involved. But then just as quickly and without any transition, it was back to the reason we had called this meeting. They hadn’t even finished the tangent topic. Nor was there a pause in conversation. One minute someone is telling a story about a guy in New Jersey that wrote the “F-word” word on a parking ticket, the very next sentence is a question about end of the year billables.

I left the meeting feeling nauseated and the beginnings of a migraine. But mostly I just felt sad that I would no longer get to spend those meetings drafting new blogs; I couldn’t keep up when I was paying attention. There is no way I can fake note take here.

January 28, 2008

The Isle of Metrosexuality

Posted in Lawyer Lifestyles, Office Hijinks at 10:09 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

At my new office there is a department that is made up of only the finest and prettiest lawyers this city has to offer. Well, no, that is not fair. I am sure there are prettier men in this city. And I can’t be sure the whole department looks like they just stepped out of a high-end, alcoholic-beverage advertisement. There could be women in this department, there could even be old, stodgy men in this department. I just know every time I am in the elevator with a particularly pretty gentleman I notice he gets off the elevator on the very same floor.And by a particularly pretty gentleman, I mean I think we are up to six now. Six men with striped shirts and printed ties, clean-shaven faces (except for the one that can pull off the scruffy look while still looking perfectly groomed in a way I only thought a Ken doll could), corporate faux-hawks and manicured eyebrows all working in the same department.

In my head, on this floor, when no one is around, I imagine these boys all gather in one office playing video golf and discussing the winter sale at Boyds, the latest moisturizers available at Kiehl’s and, of course, the new girl’s rack. I wonder if billables take a sharp decline the day after GQ, Esquire and Details are delivered to subscribers’ homes. I also wonder if everyone in the department subscribes to all three magazines or if they each subscribe to only one and then pass them around when they are done devouring the issue.

But what I really can’t understand is why this department. The law they practice does not require them to be well-coifed or even well-dressed, or at least not that well-coifed or well-dressed. Is it because like attracts like, so way back when, one metrosexual was hired and others heard the news and started applying to openings in this department? Or maybe the practice of this particular law doesn’t require a lot of thought or effort, leaving these guys plenty of time to read up on their fantasy picks and workout at the gym. Or maybe they were all normal, okay looking guys before coming to work here, and then through a combination of peer-pressure and secretly liking the way their hands looked after a manicure, they all became pretty.

I may need to go all Jane Goodall on this firm and move my stuff to their floor, live amongst them for awhile. Even if I can’t figure out why this particular practice attracts all the very pretty boys, maybe I will be able to learn where they get their eyebrows waxed.

January 18, 2008

Elevator Etiquette

Posted in Office Hijinks at 8:19 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

I don’t like to be touched.

Something I don’t like even more than touching is the threat of touching, which is the number one reason why I hate elevators.

While Emily Post has never officially deemed it so, I believe there is a proper order to getting into an elevator. My building’s current elevators comfortably hold eight individuals in what I like to call the 3-2-3 model. Three people in the back, one in each corner and one in the middle, two in the next row standing between the three in the back and then three in the front following the same pattern as the back row. This leaves lots of breathing room and room to maneuver just in case the woman in the back corner needs to get out first.

And sure there are times, for instance at 8:59 in the morning or when an elevator is down, that more people need to crowd into the space, but this particular morning was not one of them. There were only six of us in the car. I was in the middle back position when this crazy coworker stepped in and stood just to the right and only slightly in front of me.

She was so close I could taste her hair.

Worse, there was no where I could go. She just stood there, almost brushing my coat with her coat staring up at the TV in the elevator that flashes celebrity birthdays, stock updates, news, weather, travel weather and fun new words.

Two more people got on, giving her plenty of room to adjust, but she didn’t. She just stood there, reading what someone in Tuscaloosa had to say in response to the viewer’s poll.

I was so tempted to whisper in her ear, “You know the NY Times online has all of this information and more.” but refrained just in case she had a blog of her own. I wouldn’t want to be known as the creepy coworker that suggestively whispers in people’s ears.

Instead, I just held my breath, as breathing heavily in a coworker’s ear is equally as creepy.

When I finally got to my floor I ran right into New Boss’s office to vent my frustration at people’s poor elevator etiquette. He then started in on how much he hates when he goes to get off an elevator and the doors open and there is someone standing right there. Worse is when the person makes a move to get on before he has had a chance to get off.

He added that he noticed it is only women that do this. My face colored a bit, but I wasn’t going to start a fight. Particularly since I have never noticed this particular phenomenon before and therefore couldn’t come up with any concrete examples of men that do it too. For all I knew, it was something only women do.

Later that day, when I was going down to get an un-environmentally friendly bottle of water, I had the whole elevator to myself. I breathed in deep and thanked the elevator gods for such a nice gift. I read all the day’s top stories and learned what celebrities were older than me and as the elevator neared the lobby level, I prepared myself for departure. The doors opened and there, standing in my way was Jerkface (the attorney formerly known only as Lawyer In Question). I rolled my eyes and pushed past him. As soon as the doors closed I pushed the up bottom, so excited to confront New Boss with a real live male example of someone doing just what he said only women do that I forgot all about my bottle of water.

Oh, and I settled on Jerkface because when I described another recent transaction with my office crush, Lauren asked, “When are you going to stop flirting like a fourth grader.”

I just stared back at her blankly. Is there another way to flirt?

January 4, 2008

A New Year and Another Chance at A New Me

Posted in Lawyer Lifestyles, Office Hijinks at 6:50 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

Last year at this time, I took the opportunity to share with you my resolutions for the new year. And while my intention was to share with you just how hard it was to live a dual life, telling the legal community the changes I wanted to make had unexpected consequences of actually having to keep my resolutions, less one of my readers caught me sneaking a butt.

And because I am selfish and entitled and this is my blog, I think I am going to share with you my resolutions again, hoping it has the same effect. With any luck, this time next year I will be writing this blog to you sitting on a size two behind.

A few weeks back, New Boss and I were talking about nothing really when the topic turned to wine and he asked me if I had ever been to Napa Valley. I answered honestly, No.

A couple minutes later, he asked me if I was ever in Ireland.

No.

Later, still talking about traveling, he asked me if I had ever been to France.

Yeah, oh no.

He smiled and asked me where I had been.

Truth be told, not very many places. In fact, the only time I was ever out of the United States was in college when I visited Tijuana, Mexico. Thus, new year resolution number one was born; and, actually this may be more a new life resolution — travel more. Even if they are just mini-breaks like the ones taken by Favorite Associate, who used to hop across the pond like some of my friends take trips to NYC.

Of course, one thing I learned from Favorite Associate was that knowing an extra language is helpful when traveling abroad. That is why new year resolution number two is to finally learn French.

I bet a lot of you are wondering how you will be able to track how I am doing on these two resolutions if you see me out at a bar. It’s not as if you could walk by Public House and I will be wearing a beret and a pin that says: “Ask me about my latest trip abroad.” Okay, you might see me outside wearing a beret, but not the button. Still, you can ask me about my latest adventures in French, and if I respond in English that I haven’t had any yet, you can hit me on the side of my head.

I would love to write that my third is to stop judging others, but why set myself up to fail. Besides, if god didn’t want me to judge others, he wouldn’t have made me perfect (haters, you are welcome for that freebie).

I would like to start reading The New York Times everyday, or at least most of the NYT everyday, (of course I will be doing it online in keeping with my resolution to be more environmentally friendly). It may shock even some of my closest friends to learn that I don’t currently read the NYT everyday. That is because I often start conversations with, “Did anyone read that story in the Times today about . . .”

My friends have yet to respond, “oh yeah. . .” Which is why I can then go on to give the synopsis that someone else gave me earlier in the day.

Even as I start the conversation I feel bad about myself and how phony I am. And, much like last year and quitting smoking and starting running, instead of just coming clean, I am going to modify my behavior to make me the person I want to be.

Along that same line, I would also like to start waking up in the morning to give myself enough time to eat breakfast and read a paper. I would like to stop negotiating portions of my morning routine in order to sleep an additional seven minutes at a time.

So, did any of my readers or haters make any resolutions? Care to share?

December 5, 2007

A Question for My Male Readers

Posted in Office Hijinks at 11:27 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

I work with a pretty busty group of women.  A fact that if I were still 13 and desperately waiting to “fill-out” might have me seething with jealousy, but now that I have had 16 years to get used to the idea that they aren’t getting any bigger I am pretty okay being surrounded by the buxom.

So the one day, we are sitting around Imelda’s desk talking about which attorneys won’t talk to you on principle and which attorneys will only talk to your chest.

“Really?” I asked.  I mean, I have met lawyers that didn’t think I could possible understand anything they were saying simply because “esquire” didn’t follow my name, but talking to your chest, I thought that was a workplace legend told to keep young assistants in frumpy looking frocks.

Imelda, bless her heart, asked in all earnestness “You haven’t noticed?”

I laughed, pointed at the place where my chest should be and said, “They don’t get a whole lotta talking to.”

So my question is, why? Why when talking to a well endowed female do you (and by you and don’t mean all of you all of the time but rather all of you some of the time and/or some of you all of the time) talk to her chest?

Do you think it is flattering?

Because it’s not; from what I have been told, getting catcalls from construction workers seems more endearing.

Do you think she doesn’t notice?

Because I am here writing to you that she does.  Sure, she might not say anything to you, and thus you feel like you are getting away with it.  But believe me she is telling all of her friends and co-workers.

Do you think she is asking for it?

Okay, I might give you this one given the right set of circumstances. For instance, since learning that this actually happens in the real world and not just on sitcom television, I have been wearing increasingly tighter and lower cuts shirts hoping someone will look down to talk to me.

Now, if I don’t hear from anyone I will be left to assume that this phenomenon is purely instinctual and that you are unaware that while holding a conversation you are not looking at her face but staring at her sweater muffins.

In which case, practice looking up, boys. Her eyes are a good eight to twelve inches higher.

October 26, 2007

And In This Corner

Posted in Office Hijinks at 5:40 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

So, there I was, sitting in a teambuilding retreat, listening to thinly-veiled insults fly around our safe harbor.  In front of us, the moderator desperately tried to keep us on task.  Maybe it was the “thinking outside the box” theme or maybe I just have a lot of pent up aggression, but while my co-workers brainstormed about our core values, I wondered if a single elimination, Royal Rumble style brawl, wouldn’t be a more efficient use of our time.

And because I am quite possibly the most competitive person in the world, I started to wonder how I would fare in such a fight.

Among my co-workers, we have a few moms, and let me tell you: moms are tough.  In particular, we have one mom whose son is a hockey player and her husband is a marine.  Looking across at her, I was pretty sure that unless she tapped out early, not wanting to spend an afternoon in the ER and miss picking her son up at the hospital, she could kick my butt. 

Maybe instead of an all out brawl, it would make more sense to have teams, our office versus another office.  This would put One Tough Mother, along with many of the other mothers on my team, and help us work out the inter-officer rivalries that seemed to be brewing.  

Sitting near One Tough Mother was my office archrival/bizzaro/nemesis, Angel.  Of the people in the room, I think we could use this opportunity to fight the most.  Unfortunately, if we broke it down by offices, we would be on a team together.    This is when it occurred to me that Angel and I could be an undercard fight to the main event – New Boss versus the tag-team duo, His Two Bosses.   And we could sell admission and the proceeds could go to charity or maybe we could buy a frozen yogurt machine for the break room. 

I wondered if after Angel and I fought we would become our own tag team duo, like the way enemies often become friends on the WWE.  Maybe at this fight she would break a chair over my back, but at the next firm fight, I would slide her a wooden chair to break over someone else’s. 

It occurred to me, as I doodled costumes for Angel and I, contemplating whether or not we should go with knee high boots, that there could be a real market for my anti-teambuilding retreat program.  What if, instead of sitting in a room saying, “I don’t feel appreciated enough,” you could just pop the boss that didn’t give you a big enough bonus in the gut?  Instead of whining about a lack of respect, punch in the throat the partner that always calls at 4:50 on a Friday night. 

Sure, I may have to take some precautions, like padded rooms, or those puffed-up, Sumo costumes, to reduce the number of injuries.  It may also be hard to get insurance for this start-up, but it has to be more effective than sitting there not saying what you are really feeling. 

At the very end of the day, after the hugs the tears and the Kumbaya circle, our moderator asked that we all announce what we will take away from the day.  A lot of people promised to be better communicators.  Angel said she was going to respect her co-workers (and then turned to me and mouthed “except you.”) When it was my turn, without hesitation I let everyone know that I am only pretty sure that in a fair fight, one-on-one, I could take on anyone in the room. 

What, she said there were no wrong answers.

September 27, 2007

Because Sometimes, “My Bad” Just Doesn’t Cut It

Posted in Office Hijinks at 8:34 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

It’s not as if I have never screwed up before.  But I guess my mistakes were either not that catastrophic or, more likely, I just didn’t care about the results. 

However, when I screwed up at the new job recently, I cared. 

There I was, sitting back, enjoying the fact that I had just completed a brand new task recently assigned to me.  Something I have never done before.  Okay, maybe I was gloating a bit, when an e-mail popped up in the corner of my screen indicating that I had made a mistake and now someone was mad. 

Mind you, it wasn’t a big mistake.  I sent something to someone that didn’t necessarily need to see it and that someone let me know it in a not very nice manner. 

What made the minor mishap snowball into a major catastrophe was that there was no one around to tell me that it was okay.  New Boss was in an important meeting and Imelda was out to lunch.  

I dialed Mentor’s number. Mentor, who would want me to tell you that she is tall and skinny and blonde, had helped me with the project.  I was sure she would have comforting words of wisdom for me and everything would be all right.

“Devil, it really isn’t that big a deal.  Just print out the e-mail, leave it for New Boss and he will probably call the guy to apologize.  You won’t be fired.  Trust me.”

And at first I believed her. 

But then my brain started working up possible worst-case scenarios.  What if This Guy was a really important contact for the firm and my one nuisance e-mail has sent him over the edge, and right now he was drafting a letter saying he never wanted to do business with us again?  Or maybe he was on the phone with the partner in charge and they were trying to figure out why the heck they hired me in the first place?  Maybe This Guy is the same guy that writes all the nasty comments about me on this blog and he has been waiting for me to screw up so he could expose me to the world as a big, dumb fraud. 

By the time Imelda got back from wherever the heck she was, I had settled upon the fact that This Guy and New Boss served in the Vietnam War together and once, in the middle of the jungle, with the enemy all around them and shrapnel in his leg, This Guy carried an unconscious New Boss to safety and New Boss has “owed him once since” and now This Guy was going to cash in that chip by asking that I be fired for inconveniencing him with my nonsense e-mail.

Mind you, I don’t think New Boss is old enough to have served in Vietnam, but it doesn’t matter.  See how sometimes having a great imagination works against me?

Imelda stopped in to see if I was okay, and I told her the whole awful story. 

She laughed and said it would take a lot more than that to get fired from here.  She started to walk away.

I have really big blue eyes and when I am terrified, they are even bigger, which makes people want to help me. 

Imelda sat back down.  “Okay, I’ll e-mail him and tell him he needs to put out a small fire.  He will respond to me. “

I blinked a couple of times

“It’s going to be okay.”

After several e-mails back and forth, New Boss was fully apprised of the situation and confirmed that it really wasn’t a big deal.  The big jerk even laughed at my anxiety over the whole affair.  As a punishment he told me I had to go to confession. 

Since I am only pretty sure that any church I stepped foot into would immediately be set on fire, I met up at a neighborhood bar with Lauren instead.  Bartenders are like confessors, sort of.

September 24, 2007

Sick Day

Posted in Office Hijinks at 9:42 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

I hate being sick.  And I’m not talking about hangover sick.  I’m talking about being physically sick – you don’t know what it is you have because you aren’t going to bother going to the doctor’s, all you know is that you hurt all over and it is difficult to do anything but lay on your couch and watch really bad TV – sick.   

And I think it is worse for me because on top of all of that, I’m a recovering hypochondriac. 

I once had a primary care physician refuse to take any more blood from me.  You know how recovering alcoholics receive a coin for being six months clean, and they tell the story of their personal rock bottom?  That was mine – when my doctor that I loved and trusted and needed refused to take any more of my blood.  I threatened to never see him again. You can imagine this would be a significant blow to his business, but still he refused.   

At the time, I was quite convinced I was dying from the bird flu, because I was home sick and Channel 10 news had just reported that a flamingo at the Philadelphia Zoo had been diagnosed. Since I was living in the Art Museum area at the time, which isn’t far from the zoo … well, you can see where I am going with this.   

That was a turning point for me. I still never saw that physician again, but it was more out of embarrassment; as it turns out, he was right, I didn’t have the avian flu.     

Part of my hypochondria comes from my mother.  She’s a nurse, and before me, she was pretty lackadaisical when it came to her children’s (and by “children” I really just mean Big Sis) health.  I won’t embarrass the ol’ girl too much here, but just know that when my sister was 7, she walked around with a broken arm for more than two days because my mother was convinced she was fine.   

And then I came along.  And in kindergarten, as 5 year olds sometimes do, I got chicken pox.  Except my crazy body and immune system landed me in the hospital for nine days, I had to have surgery to remove lymph nodes and had my picture taken for a medical journal.  After that, my mom was pretty careful never to dismiss anything I got as just a cold. 

As a recovering hypochondriac, I now avoid getting sick.  Whenever anyone near me starts to cough or sneeze or even sniffle, I reach for the Airborne and zinc lozenges and then chase it all down with Echinacea tea.   

And when I do get sick, I like to pretend I am not.  I get really dressed up for work and I put on lots of make up and I smile and when anyone asks me what is wrong I shake my head and say, “Nothing.  I feel great.”     

I was so good at faking well that earlier in the week, New Boss didn’t even know anything was wrong.  He asked me if I had a fun weekend and I responded, kind of truthfully, “Oh, I was sick.”   

He smiled and said, “What?  Did you have meningitis like that girl at Penn?” 

And that is when I decided to go home.  Not because I needed to make an appointment to have my spine tapped.  I mean, a lot of Penn students take the subway; she could have been one of them.  But, no, I went home because I gave up.  I was sick, and the only thing that would make me better was time on my couch, in my sweats, watching Maury Povich. 

I’m not really sure what the 12 steps to recovering from hypochondria are, but I certainly felt like admitting that I just had a cold and needed to be home was an important one.   

Plus, if it was meningitis, it really wasn’t fair exposing my co-workers to it. 

September 6, 2007

About New Boss

Posted in Office Hijinks at 4:52 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

I feel really bad for New Boss.  Actually, I feel pretty terrible for any guy that has to work with mostly women, but since I know New Boss and I like New Boss, he gets most of my sympathy.  Oh, word of warning, I am about to be kind of unkind to my sex. 

Women (and yes, I am generalizing here, sue me.  Oh, no, wait, don’t.  But feel free to write any nasty little comment your heart desires below) tend to be more emotional than men.  This is often a good thing, but can also be a really bad thing; especially in an office.  Being a woman and working around a lot of women, I never really noticed how our temper tantrums and gossiping and mood swings and our general want of everyone else to be able to read our minds affected men until the one day New Boss had another man working with us. 

He clung to this guy like Kate clinging to that wooden door at the end of Titanic.  Unfortunately, Part- Time Friend is only in our office once a week.  So, New Boss was once again left tired and outnumbered. 

I saw this same exasperation in my coach in college.  He had to deal with 14 girls every morning and afternoon and after only a year or so, he was physically and emotionally drained.  Not to mention completely unsure of what was right or wrong anymore and so he left it up to us to pretty much control everything.

Fortunately, New Boss isn’t there yet.   

There we were, sitting in New Boss’s office, his head was down as he reviewed some of my work, I was listening intently to his comments and criticisms.  Then he looked up and registered a look of fear and dread so complete, he actually shuddered.  It was a look of absolute horror.  Not the oh-my-god-I-didn’t-expect-the-axe-murderer-was-hiding-in-the-closet horror.  No, this was much worse.  This was guy horror.  This was oh-my-god-are-you-gonna-cry horror.

In the third grade, I accompanied my mom for a portion of a parent-teacher conference.  I took her on the tour of the classroom and listened as Miss Newhart told her that I was a joy to have in class, although I did have a tough time accepting constructive criticism.   

Now, I had a little school girl crush on Miss Newhart.  I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.  The fact that I was doing anything she disapproved of broke my little, eight-year-old heart.  So I immediately set out to take criticism better; that is once I looked up criticism in the dictionary. 

So I know I am good at taking criticism. I have been practicing for more than 20 years.  However, my stupid face still gets in the way.  I really want to be good at what I do but, as I sat there listening to how much improving I have ahead of me, my face must have been contorting into a look of shock, or alarm, or disappointment or dread; maybe a combination of all three.  

But to New Boss it was a look that said,  “I think I am going to cry now.”   

He dropped the page, complete with proofreader’s marks all across it, started shaking his head and tried to justify his critical comments.

And, no matter how emphatically I shook my head, he wasn’t buying that I really was okay with all that he was saying.

I know New Boss reads the blog, but I don’t think his fanaticism goes back so far as to know about my affliction.  Still, I need his feedback to get better at what I am doing.  So I have resolved that the next time he is away, I will install a mirror behind his desk, just to the right of his head.   

Not only will this keep my face in check, but it will give me something to look at when I get bored or tired of listening to him. 

August 24, 2007

Best Friends Forever

Posted in Office Hijinks at 7:57 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

So there I was, just before my vacation, sitting with my ex-roommate telling her all about the new job.   I gushed about the cool new people I work with and how much I really enjoy the work and all the crazy things we do during the day.  I told her about we decorated Boss’s office for his birthday and how someone is always using Photoshop to create something goofy to make the rest of us laugh.  Lauren smiled and said, “Oh my god it is as if you are back on student council in high school.”

I smiled at the analogy.  I have often thought working in a law firm was a lot like being in high school.   And just like my first month in high school, I was suffering through the awkward getting to know everyone phase.   

Just before starting the ninth grade my parents pulled me from public school and enrolled me in a private, Catholic school.  They thought ninth grade was the best time for me to make this transition since I would be starting a new school, regardless.  What they hadn’t realized is that, while six or seven parishes all sent their ninth graders to this one high school, those six or seven schools only produced one class a piece.  I was walking into a school where no more than seven groups of kids had all known each other now for over eight years.   

But being the good sport that I was, I joined activities and tried out for various teams and did my best to make friends and influence people.  And before you could say, “It smells like teen spirit,” it was homecoming and I was helping to decorate the school.   

After attaching green and gold to anything that stayed still, I wandered back to my locker to get my bag and my books.  As I approached, I saw CK, a cheerleader who sat in front of me in homeroom, standing at her locker.  Apparently CK’s job was to attach construction paper footballs with player’s numbers at random, to various lockers.  As I got closer, I saw that she had attached one such football to my locker.  Once I was there, I saw that the number on the football corresponded with the number worn by the boy I thought, at the time, I was going to spend the rest of my life with.   

And CK knew it and saw to it that his number ended up on my locker. 

My whole face spread into a smile.  I had a friend, and more importantly, I had a cheerleader friend. 

Now, back at the office, sure I chatted with the other girls and even helped them decorate Boss’s office but I still didn’t feel like I belonged.  My only lunches out were still with friends from the old firm.  And don’t even get me started on the lack of happy hour invites.   

I thought about this as I sat on the subway on my first day back from vacation. It is not easy being the new girl and it wasn’t as if I could just offer to let someone copy my homework to get them to like me.  

I wondered what I could do to fit in as I flicked on my office light and saw that in my absence, my desk had been ransacked.  Sportswear with the firm’s logo covered everything, a banner with the firm’s name was acting as a table skirt, streamers hung from my overhead cabinet and a poster welcoming me back and noting how much I was missed was prominently displayed.   

I couldn’t have been happier if they had taped 57 Hottie’s bar number to my office door.

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