Friday, June 24, 2005

BBQ and Beer, with an Exclamation Point

Friday is coffee day for me. Not that I’m not sleepy every other day of the week (Joan and I recently discovered that we have the same trick for sneaking naps at work – laying a book flat on our desks and hanging our heads down as if we’re reading), but I only allow myself to drink coffee on Fridays because the caffeine keeps me up at night. Even on Fridays I don’t drink a whole cup, I just mix a little in with my hot chocolate. One time an associate saw me in the kitchenette making my Friday drink but he missed the first step, where I put the hot chocolate powder in the bottom of the cup. He looked on in horror as I poured a quarter cup of coffee and then filled the rest of my cup with hot water. I wanted to explain the hot chocolate part but he must have sensed that I had noticed him staring at me because he quickly pulled out his Blackberry and started acting busy.

Anyway, this morning I was sipping on my coffee chocolate and turning to the editorial section of the Chronicle when a woman who I vaguely recognized as being on my floor stopped by with an armful of small boxes. “Will you do me a favor and stuff these envelopes for me?” I must have given her some kind of dirty look because she quickly added, “It’s not a rush, you can finish reading your paper first.” She stacked the boxes on the edge of my desk and thanked me in advance. “Just call me when they’re done – no rush…I’m Jana, by the way, extension 3730.”

I suddenly regretted whatever mute attitude I had given her. This is Jana Strummer, Manager of Attorney Recruiting. The reason I hadn’t recognized her face was because I only ever study the attorney section of the firm directory – but I had spoken to Jana on the phone before, during my first week at Acewell. At the time I was filling in for Mary on 26 while she was on vacation, and in a rare moment of boldness I had called Jana and introduced myself as a temp from another floor who was going to law school in the fall. She was a little dismissive until I mentioned My School. We then had a 10-minute conversation about the attorney recruiting process and associate life in different kinds of firms. It was exactly the kind of interaction I had hoped for when I took this $11/hour job.

I jotted down Jana’s extension and she left my desk without asking my name. I couldn’t decide if I wanted her to know who I was at this point…she might not have remembered our phone conversation anyway.

Although I was told the envelope stuffing job wasn’t “hot,” I folded up my Chronicle and grabbed Jana's boxes -- I can never enjoy leisure activities when I know there’s work lurking in the wings. (One time I was asked to help a secretary with “closing out files,” which entails punching holes in stacks of documents and securing them into manila folders with metal tabs. I devised an efficient assembly line process and finished her box of files in less than an hour, expressly so that I could get back to my book – I think I was reading Wonderland at the time. I called the secretary and told her I was done so that she could collect her files. “Terrific, you’re so quick! I’ll bring over the next box.” Turns out there were over 50 boxes of these files and there was no chance I would finish, ever. I spent the rest of the afternoon punching holes one paper at a time, my motivation destroyed. Luckily she got her own temp a few days later and I was able to get back to my book.)

I removed the plastic lids from Jana’s eight-or-so boxes. Each one contained 10 envelopes with fancy colored linings and 10 one-sided cards.

You are cordially invited to:
“BBQ and Beer!”
hosted by Helen and Thomas Mansfield
Thursday, July 21st, 6:00 p.m.
Casual dress

Tom Mansfield is a partner -- I knew right away what these invitations were for. I can't wait until I'm a summer associate.

I got to work stuffing and stacked the completed envelopes in an empty file folder box. By the time I'd finished I had decided that I did want Jana to know I was the future law student she had talked with on the phone. I called her to say that the envelopes were all set and she came by to pick them up. As she thanked me again, I struggled to think of an opening.

“Are there going to be a lot of events for the summer associates?” I asked, hoping to start a conversation about summer events which would turn towards summer associates and then law schools and then me.

But Jana was already walking away, the box of invitations tucked under her arm. “Yeah, there are, thanks -- I’ll have some more stuffing for you to do next week.”


Blogger Lia said...

Good luck in law school. I hear summer associates get red carpet treatment.

Would you really want to be a summer associate at a firm where people will remember you as a receptionist temp? Or maybe attorneys don't notice receptionists at all, so it wouldn't matter.

I'll definitely be back here!

June 28, 2005 7:30 AM  
Blogger Lia said...

Oh, and I'm totally with you on the coffee-in-hot-chocolate. The thing is - hot chocolate also has caffeine. I just think it tastes better.

June 28, 2005 7:31 AM  
Blogger Kim Plaintive said...

Hmm, I always thought hot choc only had a *tiny* bit of caffeine. Maybe I've been fooling myself all these years!

I probably won't try to come back here for the summer, even though no one would remember me anyway...

Thanks for the well wishes!

June 28, 2005 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know what you did last summer.

May 02, 2014 8:04 PM  

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