Being a perpetual Pollyanna, I was resisting bitter. When I got laid off from the law firm that had just heavily recruited me away from another law firm a few months earlier, I was determined not to be bitter. And I was not going to be bitter that the lady who actually told me I was getting laid off was a former classmate. Nope. I was a weeping, tequila-infused mess, but I was not bitter.
I have a bad habit of telling law firms exactly how I feel during exit interviews, so going back to the penultimate firm was not an option. There weren’t very many options elsewhere either. Try, none. Except for litigators, or bankruptcy attorneys, or paralegals.
One of my former clients offered to hire me for a project. (See, no need to be bitter.) They could only afford to pay me one-third of my former salary. They could not offer me any benefits, and they could only provide a cubicle, not an office. A blow to the ego, yes. Bitter, still no. But getting closer.
Fast forward nine months later, and I am sitting in my cube, wearing my coat. I was wearing my coat because the heat had been out in the cube-dweller part of the building for the past three days. My supervisor came to my cube to tell me about her lovely night at the theater and chatted on as if it wasn’t at all odd that I was wearing a parka in my cube in the middle of the day. Then I started to think about how the first thing that my husband and I decided to give up on my new salary was our season tickets to the theater. Here’s where we begin to cue the bitter.
But my supervisor hadn’t come by my cube to only tell me about the theater. She had actually come to congratulate me. The company decided to offer me a permanent position . . . as an administrative assistant. (Am I crazy? Didn’t I just mention at the start of this rant that this company WAS A FORMER CLIENT OF MINE??)
I decided to leave the office. After the theater discussion, I churned over my new job title while resenting have to work in my coat. I was very frustrated and a gnat’s knee away from being bitter. Because I work in a windowless area, I was unaware of just how heavily it had been snowing. When I walked out to my car, the car door handle was covered in ice. I had to use my keys to chip away at the ice while the freezing wind relentlessly pelted me with tiny, painful projectiles of icy-snow. It then occurred to me: Last year at this time, I had heated, covered parking. It was at that moment that I went not just bitter but holy friggin’ bat-shit crazy.
You see, I didn’t go to law school for the office with a view, the salary, or the chance to make a difference in clients’ lives. I went to law school because lawyers get good parking. So that day, chipping ice off of my car in the middle of a blizzard, I joined the bitter ranks. After I finally got my car door open enough so that I could reach my snowbrush, I was but an icicle scraping and brushing the ice and snow off of my car. I devised this Yuletide sentiment for my former law firm: “May the stench of one thousand dying rats permeate your heated, covered parking garage.” And that bitter thought caused a tiny flicker of warmth to glow in my heart.
Associate Girl can also be found writing and ranting at Decisions on Margaritas.