I stare at towers of file boxes. An obnoxious secretary who looks like Kathy Bates pokes her head in and says, “You know those boxes aren’t going to move themselves.”
Clearly Kathy Bates is a master of the obvious. Were it not for her, I might have believed that the file boxes I’ve been tasked with moving were capable of levitating themselves from the halls of BigLaw down to the parking lot where a cargo van waits to transport them to their new home.
“Are you going to get moving, or are you going to let your coworker do it all for you?” Kathy Bates asks, her chubby face pointing in the direction of a massive temp who looks more like a bodybuilder than a lawyer.
I shrug as I look over at Hulk, who seems perfectly capable of moving the boxes alone. Hulk enjoys it because it gives him a chance to work his arms and back. At least, that’s what he hold me during our break as he wolfed down protein bars and jabbered on about the Strongman competition on ESPN 2.
“I was going to let him do all the heavy lifting,” I say.
My refusal stuns Kathy Bates, who blurts out a few unintelligible words before storming off.
“You are going to get in trouble,” Hulk says, his halting voice stumbling before each new syllable.
“This isn’t elementary school,” I say. “She can’t do anything.”
In truth, I don’t know if Kathy Bates is powerless. The firm is in such disarray that it’s hard to determine the pecking order. From what I’ve have been able to discern, we’re working for a litigation practice group, which is defecting as the rest of the firm crumbles in the face of the awful economy.
Because the practice group is handling several ongoing cases, they called TemPimp to send over two physically strong lawyers to move their files at the client’s expense.
I took the job because there aren’t enough document review assignments to go around these days—and I need the money to keep Sallie Mae off my back.
Seven years of school, one license, and $35-per-hour make Hulk and me the two highest-paid, best-educated movers on the planet.
Except there’s a problem. Two actually. Hulk isn’t so good with the alphabet, and I detest manual labor.
On an ordinary assignment, these problems would not have gotten in the way of my goldbricking. But when the task is to file and physically move, it’s easy to check progress. Which is why I dumped all the files into boxes, leaving Hulk to do what he loves—lifting heavy things.
I grab a Coke, take a seat on a leather couch and wave on Hulk.
“Better get these boxes out of here before she comes back,” I say.
“Don’t boss me,” he snaps. With one fluid movement, Hulk lifts four boxes onto a hand truck and heads out the door.
I finish the Coke and stretch out on the couch. I close my eyes, knowing that it will take Hulk at least an hour to move all the boxes.
“What the hell are you doing?” Kathy Bates insists knowing.
I turn to face the door where I find an angrier Kathy Bates, hands on hips.
“I’m dividing up the labor,” I say.
“I did the filing, he’s doing the moving.”
“You’re each supposed to do both.”
“Says . . . says . . . .”
This question actually stops her in her tracks. When Hulk and I arrived, a nameless associate pointed us in the direction of the files and the boxes. He told us that everything had to go, and then he vanished. Nobody ever said Kathy Bates was in charge, but like a lot of secretaries, she has no problem barking orders at anyone she thinks will listen.
“I’m calling your agency,” she says. “What’s their number?”
I get up, grab myself another Coke, and return to relaxing.
Kathy Bates walks off in a huff.
“I think you’re making her mad,” he says. “Better quit it.”
“Don’t think too hard on this one,” I say. “She wants me to lift boxes. But you and I made a deal, and I’ve already done my part. Now, you’re doing yours.”
Hulk grumbles something I can’t quite make out and continues piling the boxes on the hand truck.
He departs again.
But there’s no peace and quiet because moments later Kathy Bates returns, this time with an older man in a suit who looks a bit like Wilford Brimley.
“See, he’s just sitting there,” Kathy Bates says to the man as she points her fleshy finger at me.
“Guilty,” I say.
The man chuckles.
“What are you doing?” Brimley asks me.
“I’m waiting for my colleague to finish loading the boxes,” I say.
“Fair answer,” Brimley says with a look of annoyance on his face.
“Ask him why he isn’t helping move the boxes,” Kathy Bates pecks.
“Very well . . . Why . . . .”
“We can cut out the middleman,” I say, which makes Brimley chuckle again. “My colleague and I decided to divide up the tasks. He’s good at moving, I’m good at filing.”
“Good enough for me.” And Brimley’s good as gone.
“You’re incorrigible,” Kathy Bates says, her words thick with bile.
I shrug and say, “Why should I do manual labor when that illiterate oaf is happy to lug boxes all day?” just as Hulk marches back into the room.
His bulging muscles now accented by throbbing veins betraying his ire.
“Oaf?” he asks. “Illiterate?”
Kathy Bates smiles. Hulk’s face is red as he leans over me. Apparently the truth hurts.
“You think I’m stupid?” he asks.
I know you’re stupid, I don’t say. How hard is it to file alphabetically?
Hulk grabs my shirt by the collar and yanks me up from the couch.
My feet dangle above the floor as Hulk prepares to rip me limb from limb.
“When you two are done dancing, I’ve got a ton of files in my office,” Brimley says from the doorway.
Perhaps out of malice, or perhaps because the sound of Brimley’s voice surprises him, Hulk drops me to the floor. Hard.
I land on my ass, and a stinging pain instantly shoots up my back.
I scream loud enough to be heard throughout the floor.
I demand that the firm call the paramedics and that Brimley give me his business card in case I need to call him as a witness.
Everyone, including Kathy Bates, is exceedingly nice to me.
They send me to the hospital with more hours on my timesheet than I could have possibly worked.
The doctor tells me I may have soft tissue damage.
That night TemPimp offers me a few grand to avoid a lawsuit. I accept, and he promises me a cushy assignment.
My soft tissue feels a lot better. In a tough economy, there are worse things than being dropped on your ass at BigLaw.
Temper(a)mental is written by a real legal temp. He has a license and a law degree. We checked. He’ll continue to post his “thoughts” in between doing “your work.”