Sunday, December 30, 2007

YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!

Oh, wait. Yes you are. My bad.

I have mentioned in these pages that I have a great boss. I do. I have the best. Without a doubt.

I'd like to give you evidence of his greatness.

At the end of 2001 I was working on a huge, pressured anti-trust case at a boutique firm -- one of those firms that prides itself at having a staff smaller that your average Baskin-Robbins but able to take on the behemoth cabbage-demons of the business world. One of the parters, I'll call him Leo, if you don't mind, had always been a little bit crazy, mean, and vindictive. The office story was that he always had to have one person who he hated. And I had become his bitch.

So, we are working this big case. I've been working it for a couple of years and feeling lucky to have a job after the economic and emotional downturn following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Yes, Leo did everything he could to make my life a living hell, but I had a family to support, and I could put up with anything from him.

Then, not unexpectedly, a month or so before trial (but not before I assembled the 10,000+ exhibits we expected to use at trial) all of the bad guys started to settle. The office did well. We negotiated settlements of over a billion dollars for our clients. And the firm received a percentage of that amount, so we are talking about a $100m year for the firm. Visions of Christmas Bonus' danced in my head. I had, after all, had a major role in staffing the case.

So imagine my disappointment when, a couple of days later, the managing partner, I'll call him "Sir", walks into my office and closes the door. He told me that the partners had held their year-end meeting, and that Leo had advocated vociferously for my dismissal.

Sir then said that he wouldn't let him do it -- that he thought I was a good worker and would be glad to have me work on more of his cases. He told me that, in a year where 5 figure bonuses were de rigeur, I would be receiving $1,000 -- and that he had to fight with Leo to get me that. In addition, Leo had insisted that I be moved out of my 32nd floor window office into what had always been (and still was) a file room. A file room not large enough to accommodate a desk, so I had a table. A table I had to climb over to get behind.

Sir told me that I had a choice to make -- I could be unhappy and look to leave, or I could work my way above Leo's enmity and continue with the firm. He said that he believed I could do it. And he hoped I would.

So, I made my decision. I stayed. I moved to the file room, I bore the indignity of Leo's constant hate. I worked for Sir, learning a whole new area of work and getting kinda good at it. We really developed into a team. One of our biggest cases resulted in Sir being out of town four or five days a week for several months at a time. He trusted me to keep the home fires burning, and when people half a world away who created the documents couldn't find them, he would call me and I'd have them to him in an instant. As I said, I got kinda good at what I do.

Then, last February, things kinda fell apart at work. Leo screwed his partners and brought down the firm. My guy, who wasn't one to cut his own deal and screw everyone else, advocated for finding a merger where all the attorneys could go without conflicts. Leo, who wasn't ever raised to think about anyone but himself, said "F**k you all."

The month that the firm was closing down, Leo wasn't around unless he has a meeting at his new firm. He did absolutely nothing to aid in closing up the shop. My guy? Well, my guy was going through his files and throwing out dumpsters of papers. And when he wasn't doing that he was hustling new jobs for his employees -- I could tell that it was eating him up, having people out of a job and not have solid things lined up.

I lined up another job in about 45 minutes. I have skills and they are marketable. But I was miserable. It wasn't going to be working with My Guy. It was a big hit to my psyche. I could hold things together for three or four hours, but then at lunch, rain or shine, I would walk up and down Michigan Avenue bawling like a baby. I must have looked like an absolutely lunatic. Then when the hour was over, I'd pull it together and go back to work, putting things in order for Sir.

When Sir called and told me he had firm offers lined up and asked if I would go with him, I was floored. It was the one thing that none of the other positions could offer me. (Oh, and they offered me a 10% higher salary for working only 90% time! Can you say "Heaven"?)

I just had my first of, I hope, many annual reviews at my new firm. 14% raise. (on top of the earlier increase), and a 13% bonus! And -- I kid you not -- the words "beloved by all" were included in my review. I still get a little teary-eyed when I think about it.

I know that there are a lot of people who don't believe that G-d is involved in our lives. Myfanwe constantly says "Well, G-d could spend a little less time helping Carleen find short-shorts on sale at TJMaxx and use the time to help all those people in Zimbabwe."

I don't know how to reconcile the disconnect, but I do believe G-d has helped me. G-d has been merciful to me. I am happier than I could ever have hoped to be. I have a great wife, a great boy, a lovely home, fine friends, and a job that makes me happy to get up and go to work in the morning.

It does make me feel a little guilty for all those nights I prayed for Leo Fried to choke on a ham sandwich while looking in the mirror. ( I know that sounds mean, but I thought it would be comforting for him to see the person he loved most in the world as he died.) Jerk.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! What a wonderful way to start the new year. You are so blessed to have such a thoughtful boss, workplace and colleagues. It just proves to all of us that those who work hard will reap the benefits in the end. I love your blog. Alida from far away South Africa where it is sweltering hot this week!

Leslie said...

What a lovely post - makes me jealous beyong belief! You are just proof, Ian, that "shut up, suit up and act as if" can have positive results and land you in a much better place. Happy 2008 and continue to be "beloved by all" (I think that goes for all of us who read you too).

Diane said...

Way to go!!! I'm a big believer in karma so your old asshole boss will meet his fate later in life.

Sue said...

Congratulations, Aidan. The money is a really nice thing, don't think otherwise. But more important than the money is to have a job you really like, that you feel good going to every morning, and where your talents are utilized, recognized, and appreciated. Not many people have that! You are a fortunate person.

Pearls Mother said...

Congrats, I believe that good things happen to good people, but, it may take some time!
The waiting and it's angst was sooo worth it.
Enjoy your success and yes, the bauble is gorgeous.
Lindy

Cherice said...

Congratulations. I believe in karma, and I believe that everyone should have a job that they love (and their job, so to speak, should love them back).

Ewe-niss said...

Congratulations! You deserve it. I am very happy for you. I remember reading of your turmoil earlier - what a great turn out! As one who too has sat on the crappy end of jobs/people/life - it is hard to believe when things start going your way. The whole time I think, "really, me?" :-) I have had many great years following this time. It wasn't a fluke after all.

Way to go!!!!