Every job I’ve ever had is the worst job I’ve ever had.
o, as it turns out, everyone really does have a job. Even people who seem like they don’t have jobs, like the President and Ryan Seacrest, do. Sometimes you can’t tell that someone is actually at work, but they totally are. Like lifeguards and taxi drivers. I was starting to notice that the pool of my friends that could meet me for lunch at 3:00 p.m. on a weekday was drying up. There were days when I literally called everyone I knew within a five-mile radius to see if they wanted to get lunch with me, only to be met with defeat. It was becoming a real issue.
Should I get a job? Why do people really have jobs? Does no one value free time? I wonder if I’d like working. Wouldn’t that be so weird if that’s the turn my life took right now?
I knew if anyone could help me figure out what I should do, it would be my shaman, Steve. Since I’d never had a job, I didn’t have a clue as to what profession would best suit my talents, and I trusted Steve to pull it out of me like only a shaman can. He shook his rattle over me and asked, “How does your father spend his days?” I explained that my dad was the entertainment attorney to the stars, and Steve replied, “Your soul rests in your father’s footsteps, my friend.”
OMGivenchy, I’m a lawyer.
After an intense no-contact massage, I walked myself out of Steve’s shaman den with all the certainty in the world. I had found my calling. When I asked my dad if I could join his firm, he was thrilled and told me to arrive at his offices at 8 a.m. Monday morning. Cheryl, his secretary, would set me up for my new, entry-level position, which I’m pretty sure is how all new partners enter a law firm. I went straight to Barneys to find the perfect work bag and an ensemble that proclaimed: Power.
I arrived at my dad’s offices in Century City at 8:45. Turns out, rush hour traffic is a real thing. I thought it was just an urban legend. Then, of course, there was no valet, so it took me ten minutes to find parking. Unscathed by the morning’s obstacles, I strutted into the office with my latte in hand, ready to take on the day. I was wearing a printed Balenciaga shift dress, an oversized Yohji Yamamoto blazer, six-inch purple suede Yves St. Laurent pumps, and a massive work Birkin. Today, I was all about the power of positivity, so I approached Cheryl’s desk with a warm smile.
A little background: Cheryl has been my dad’s secretary since I was a baby Babe. Whenever my dad brought me to the office, she was in charge of keeping me happy, be it taking me shopping at Barneys when I was four or ordering my ahi tuna salads when I was seven. Basically, she hates me.
“Hi, Cheryl, how are you? Long time no see! Cute boots.”
I was lying. Cheryl’s boots were an epic disaster, a tsunami of the 2012 variety. Think patent leather, with a kitten heel, and not a Prada kitten heel, but a kill-yourself kitten heel. Her personal style has always screamed Shania Twain summering on the Jersey Shore circa 1998, and I just don’t get it. After all these years working around chic individuals, you’d think that Cheryl would have figured out how to present herself in a way that says, “I may be kind of fat and rude, but at least you’ll think I’m cute from twenty feet away.”
“You’re late,” she said, flatly.
“I’m so, so sorry.”
Another lie. I am a lawyer!
“Traffic was awful this morning, as I’m sure you noticed.”
“I’ve been here since seven-thirty.”
“Oh. Hate that for you.” I cringed thinking of Cheryl in her sensible Toyota. “Why so early?”
“Because you were supposed to be here at eight o’clock.”
“Oh yeah. Which way to my office?”
“Excuse me? Your office is right over there.”
Cheryl pointed to a boxlike structure that couldn’t have been bigger than three- by four-feet.
“That’s funny. I’m not really good with confined spaces. Where is my real office? My interior designer and my feng shui master will be here any minute, so I should get a feel for the space before they arrive. I’d also love to check out the blueprints for the building. Will there be a zoning issue for a small koi pond?”
Cheryl smiled. I noticed that she could really benefit from laser whitening, and she should focus on opening her eyes more when she smiles, to make them look less beady. Also I couldn't really put my finger on what her hair color was trying to say to the world, but it wasn’t happy.
“This is your desk.”
“But my dad told me I’d be an entry-level, so . . .”
“Welcome to entry-level. There’s a partner meeting at nine-thirty. You’re in charge of picking up the coffee every morning. You can use the company card for that. You’ll also need to answer the phone and forward the calls to the appropriate extensions. You’re on mail duty every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. When you get back from coffee, check in with me. I have a stack of license agreements for you to copy, collate, and file for the paralegals.”
I pointed to my latte. “Oh, I already got my coffee, so I’m all good, thanks. Also, I love that you just told me all that fun stuff, and you sounded really confident during your monologue, but do you want to just go ahead and shoot me a quick e-mail with all that info? Also, when you e-mail me, make sure to flag it as ‘urgent,’ otherwise I won’t even see it. You’ll get the hang of my nuances once we’ve been working together for a while. It’s so exciting having my own assistant!”
“No. Babe, you need to take the elevator to the ground floor, walk two blocks east to the Starbucks at the corner, and pick up the coffees for the partners. First you’ll need to take everyone’s order.”
Cheryl was clearly testing me. I understood, and I too could play this game.
I proceeded to make my rounds through the office and typed all the coffee orders into my BlackBerry, which took forever. Then I walked over to Starbucks. By the time I got there, my feet were killing me. I was cursing myself for forgetting to have Mabinty take my YSL pumps for a test run to break them in. We have the same shoe size (a must for a maid/best friend). It was 9:20 when I placed the order for eight coffees and was 9:31 by the time they were all ready. My BlackBerry started ringing. It was Cheryl.
“Where are you? The partner meeting is starting.”
“Um, how in God’s name do you expect me to carry all these coffees back to the office?
“Figure it out. Get here now please.”
She hung up. What the fuck?! Now it was 9:43. Ugh. After staring at the coffees for another five minutes, a barista offered me a couple of heinous beverage totes and sent me on my way. I limped into the office at 9:55. Cheryl was standing at her desk waiting for me. I approached her, glaring.
“Why did you hang up on me? You’re fired for that, but now I’m rehiring you because I’m all about second chances. That was your first lesson in forgiveness. So embarrassing that I’m late for my first partner meeting! Where is my seat? Do you want to take these coffees in?”
Cheryl’s face did its best impression of a confused gremlin.
“Babe, let me clear a few things up. You are not a lawyer. You don’t have an office. You are an entry-level office assistant. Assistants sit in cubicles, and assistants do everything I tell them to do. And right now you are wasting everyone’s time. Get in there, now and put the fucking coffees on the table!”
“Rude. Okay, fine. But you’re still on thin ice.”
So far being a lawyer was really stressful.
I finished handing out the coffees at 10 a.m. I was exhausted. Normally I wake up around ten, so it was extremely frustrating to have my sleep schedule thrown off just so I could get to this stupid office and deliver a bunch of wrinkly lawyers their coffees. Did anyone even care to ask me how I was doing? I mean, I was sweating for God’s sake! I knew lawyers had to be rude to do their jobs, but I didn’t think that meant they had to abuse the entry-level lawyers. I headed to my desk to take a breather and check my e-mails. I sat down and took three cleansing breaths. A fresh start.
I had canceled my appointment with the interior designer and the feng shui master, and was about to reply to a message from my astrologer, Jackie, regarding the Ophiuchus sign and how it would affect my menstrual cycle, when the phone in my cubicle starting ringing in the most jarring way. I turned and stared at it, hoping it would stop, which it did not. I got up and walked over to Cheryl’s desk.
“Hey, Cher-Cher, the phone in my office will not stop ringing, and the ringer isn’t really giving me the best vibes, to put it lightly, so is there any way you could order me a new phone? Oh and definitely order one for Dad too. Oh, and for sure order one for yourself. I think Bang & Olufsen should have something great.” Being a lawyer is all about delegating responsibility; clearly my strong suit.
“Are you kidding?”
“Are you kidding? It’s giving me a migraine.”
“Babe, you’re not getting a new phone. That was me calling you. When your phone rings, you need to answer it. Because you were late, you’re already really behind schedule. When I give you a job to do, I need you to get it done quickly and with a smile.” My migraine was so painful at this point that I lowered my head into my hands and focused on massaging my temples. I don’t remember exactly what else Cheryl said, but it was something along the lines of “Blah, blah, blah, rules are rules, you can’t tell me what to do. I’m power hungry and I wouldn’t be so mean if I liked the way I looked. You’re so pretty. I wish I could be you . . . etc., etc.”
Cheryl ended her rant by handing me a huge stack of files and telling me to get to work. I put them on my desk and took a much needed thirty-minute bathroom break. I met a little intern girl in the bathroom who was supercute in a J.Crew kind of way. She had this really eager look about her, so I felt comfortable asking her to tackle some of my duties.
“Hi, Jane, [I didn’t know her name, but trust me, she was a Jane] is there any way you could help me file and coagulate a stack of documents for Cheryl? I’m due in court in ten. Cute tie!”
“My name’s not Ja—”
“Thanks. You’re a lifesaver.” There’s no “I” in team, so why should “I” be forced to do any of this work by myself?
Now I was freed up to spend a couple hours doing what I should have been doing as a lawyer: getting to know my clients. I chatted with a glamorous lesbian couple (the DeGeneres/de Rossis) in my dad’s office, about the necessity of owning a property in Sardinia as well as a property in Dubrovnik. In case you don’t already know, Dubrovnik is the tits right now—previously war-torn but now it’s EVERYTHING (Google it).
Lawyers love power lunches, and I had planned on meeting my personal shopper at La Scala to split a chopped salad—that is, until Cheryl The Demon practically assaulted me on my way out the door and commanded me to stay at my desk and answer phones while everyone else in the office went to lunch. Even though I usually welcome a chance to skip a meal, this was downright rude. Had Cheryl forgotten about all those Hanukkah and birthday gifts from my father that I had picked out for her over the years? It’s not easy to find something chic for a dowdy secretary with small teeth/big gum disease. Where was her loyalty? How quickly they turn.
I decided that with everyone being out of the office for lunch, this would actually be a great time to meditate. Lawyers need to clear their minds every once in a while. I popped in my headphones and listened to the soothing sounds of monks chanting. I must have retreated to a deep space within myself, because when I opened my eyes, Cheryl was standing over me looking bloated and angry.
“What are you doing?”
“Namaste, Cheryl. I was meditating. You should try it sometime. It’s really good for people with low self-esteem.”
“Go home, Babe.”
“You have done absolutely nothing all day. Go home.”
“That is so not true.” I said, taking my headphones off. “I’ve been swamped. I got the coffees, and I entertained clients. You canceled my lunch, so I couldn’t do that, which was really stressful because Melania is really sensitive about me canceling plans at the last minute and—”
“Who is Melania?”
“My personal shopper at Barneys! Lest you forget, I also had to cancel with my interior design team, which is so unprofessional. Cheryl, I have been busting my ass all day at this firm being a lawyer, and I don’t think I need to explain myself to you any further.”
“Babe, you’re fired.”
“You can’t fire me. You’re my dad’s secretary. And I’m a partner, so you’re fired.”
“No! YOU ARE NOT A LAWYER! And yes, I am your dad’s secretary, but I’m also the head of HR, so you’re fired. Please leave the premises.”
I stared at her for twenty seconds, until she turned to walk away.
“No, Cheryl. Actually, I’m the CEO of HR, so you’re fired. I think you should leave.”
But she didn’t budge. How could she do this?! What the hell is HR? Obviously she was so jealous of me that she couldn’t stand for us to coexist in the same environment. I gathered my Birkin and my office supplies (headphones, iPad, BlackBerry, iPhone, white iPhone, and Montblanc fountain pen) and made my way out of the building.
I had tried so hard to be a lawyer, but the universe simply didn’t want my law career to take flight. The gods were against me. Nature was against me. Jane was against me. How could this be when I had been so convinced of my calling? Then I thought back to something that Ellen and Portia had said to me when we were talking in my dad’s office. They’d explained how they didn’t choose to fall in love with Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik had chosen them. It was the one place where they truly felt at home. There needs to be that special connection. Well, I had chosen to be a lawyer, and clearly, the law had rejected me. It was simply not in the stars. I don’t do “fired,” so tomorrow I would tell Cheryl that I quit.
After driving around listening to the entire Born This Way album, thinking things through, and stopping at Barneys to pick up a pair of Lanvin flats because my feet were killing me, I was back home getting a massage and trying to rid my psyche of the day’s horrors.
I showed up to the office to hand-deliver my letter of resignation to Cheryl, but she wasn’t at her desk. It was 9:15. Jane walked by with a pen and paper in hand. She was experimenting with a sweater-set-and-skirt-combo moment.
“Jane, are you doing today’s coffee run?”
“Great. Cheryl will have a venti, peppermint mocha Frappucino with three extra shots of sweetener, whole milk, whipped cream, sprinkles, chocolate syrup, and white chocolate shavings.” (Estimated calorie count: 400,000.) I left my letter on Cheryl’s desk and got the fuck out of that hellhole.
After careful consideration, I have reviewed the pros and cons of practicing law, and have woefully decided the cons outweigh the pros. Please accept this as my letter of resignation.
P.S. I realize now that as a lawyer, it was my obligation to be under oath at all times. So yesterday when I told you that I thought your boots were cute, I perjured myself. Best of luck!!!!