Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Saturday, June 07, 2003

“Tales from the working world, volume 1”

After a year of school I’d forgotten this, but sitting at a desk from early in the morning until midway through the evening – no matter what you’re doing, really – ruins the whole day. I don’t mean that to sound as negative as the only fair reading of it would indicate. I just mean it gives you hardly a chance to do much else besides eat, sleep, and write a carefully constructed, riotously funny (or should that be “uproariously funny...”) 800-word column each week. Because you’re in an office, at a desk, and even if you’re doing cool things, they’re not your things. They’re someone else’s things, some faceless corporation’s things perhaps, or some faceless government’s things, or, if you’re working for a professor this summer, some grotesquely-faced monster’s things. No, I don’t really mean that.

Unlike many of you, I’m not working for a law firm this summer, so I don’t have any hilarious stories to tell about how the senior partner cited the wrong precedent (ha, ha, ha!), or how the seventh-year associate flung himself off the roof of the building to his death (ha, ha, ha!), or how at the firm’s weekly lobster dinner everybody got crabs (ha, ha, ha!). Nor am I working for any legal public interest happy wealth redistribution helping poor people environmentally friendly policy litigation save the world organization, so I have no stories about how my boss lives in a van down by the river, or how the people in the office can’t afford shoes so they all walk around wearing paper bags on their feet – recycled paper – and for lunch make sandwiches out of their toenail clippings. Nor am I working for the government, so I have no stories about the three-hundred dollar paper clip dispenser on my desk, the six-hundred dollar light bulb hanging over my desk, and (please don’t tell me you could see this one coming a mile away, because it will spoil the illusion I have in my head that this is going to be funny) the pretty young intern – under my desk.

Instead, as makes perfect sense given that I’m in law school, earning a law degree, which will prepare me to become a lawyer, and practice law, I’m working for a non-legal-related-at-all company. I have, however, done one Lexis search at work. “Law student” and “Not working at a law firm nor a public interest organization nor the government nor a judge” came up with zero results. And caused Lexis to cancel my account and automatically redeem my Lexis points for a $10 gift certificate to the mental health clinic, and a lifetime membership at the International House of Debt. (Actually, the International House of Debt is running a special promotion this week: buy one, get three taken away. Is that funny? I have no idea.)

I actually wrote that last paragraph this morning, before I went to work, and didn’t show it to anyone. However, Lexis monsters have apparently infiltrated my fingertips, because, in fact, I tried to do a Lexis search today (“hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt from a law school education” and “wannabe writer” but not “John Grisham”) and discovered that Lexis really did cancel my account. Or at least is now limiting me to searches in the Martindale-Hubbell directory (which allows me to find the names of game show hosts from the 1970s and space telescopes) or North Korean Lawyer magazine (this month’s issue, at almost one full page, is actually a double issue to commemorate the anniversary of when some dude filed a lawsuit and then got beheaded by government agents). Apparently if we want summer access we have to be doing something somewhat tangentially related to the law. Oops.

But, surprisingly enough, even my non-legal employer is trying to use my supposed legal knowledge to its advantage. “Young intern with baffling career path,” my boss said to me today, “stop writing semi-humorous things about me on your computer in windows you quickly try and close whenever I walk by but I see anyway because you don’t click fast enough and come over here so I can give you real work.” I saved my file and rolled my chair-on-wheels down the ramp (handicapped access rules) to his desk. “I’m assuming you know some law, since you’re at law school.” Me: “Uh... sure.” Him: “I want you to take a look at these contracts we use for stuff and tell me how we can make them better.” Me: “Better?” Him: “Yeah. More advantageous to us, but less advantageous to the people we do business with. But in a legal way. Can you do that?” Me: “Can I do that? Can alligators juggle? Of course I can do that!”

On Monday, the police will be arriving to take my boss away in handcuffs because of some funny business with his new contracts. He will be cursing the day he said “no, that’s not necessary” when I asked him if he wanted to see a transcript of my first-semester grades. Law firms, of course, have all been cursing the day when they said “no, that’s not necessary” when I asked if I should come work for them this summer.

And, just recently, I have been cursing the day I said “no, that’s not necessary” when the waitress at the little Chinese restaurant I discovered has a $1.95 lunch special asked if she should wash her hands before touching my food. No, I’m kidding. And, yeah, I know that wasn’t really particularly funny. But if you read this far, is that really going to stop you from getting to the end?