Thursday, September 25, 2008

"One Day We Will All Look Back at This and Laugh."

Today at 1 PM I expect to be fired.

Okay, laid-off.

That is, I expect to be another one of those faceless drones who volunteered to have his hopes and dreams shredded for the advancement of Corporate America (and the advancement of my own pocketbook), but who never expected this.

Over the course of the last one and a half weeks -- the hospice period for the dying firm at which I work -- I have asked myself, David-Byrne-like, how did I get here? But there are few answers. I had a wealth of choices, and I thought I chose wisely, but alas...

Law firms can fall victim to the whims of the economy, it is true, but it is rare for them to dissolve outright. There is a larger misfeasance at play here. Now, I have my own thoughts about management, about greed, about out-sized ambition, but this is not the forum in which to share them. I am angry, yes, I am confused about what lies ahead -- never in the last 25 years have I not been enrolled in school or employed -- but, my election posts notwithstanding, I am an optimist, and I expect that this too shall pass. This job, this strange 11-month odyssey, was in some respects a charade. It's not what I'm meant to do, I know, and maybe now I will be forced to think hard about what it is that I want out of my professional life.

Don't feel sorry for me. Just two weeks ago I was sitting in a financial planning seminar, organized by the firm, listening to a pleasant lady talk about the best strategies for buying a second house or financing private school for your kids. I remember sitting there and having one of those moments of clarity that exist only in facile television programs. This is all just, just so wrong. Then, a weirder thought -- one probably better suited for HBO -- gripped me: If the revolution gathered on the streets below, spilled forth through the lobby, up the elevator, and slaughtered us all, it would be justified. No one needs to be talking about second homes. No one needs to send their kids to private school. When this becomes your everyday reality, maybe, just maybe, you have forfeited that which makes you part of a common humanity. But I digress...

The above quote has become sort of a mantra here. It's the only appropriate thing to say to people who are sharing in this experience with you. I have heard it from many colleagues, but right now, there are secretaries, who have spent 20, 30, years toiling here, but can't manage to find a private place to cry, so they sit at their desks, with tears streaming down their face, trying to check headings on somebody's motion to dismiss. When I look back at all of this, that -- more than anything else -- will be what I remember.

ps -- Should you feel compelled to comment, please do not mention the name of The Firm at Which I Will be Working for a Few More Hours.

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