QI’m in the middle of my fourth year as an associate at a mid-size Chicago firm. Over the years, I’ve developed great relationships with the partners and with clients. I’ve been lucky in that respect, having been able to interact substantially with clients on some of my cases. In all honesty, I probably have a solid book of business I could take with me if I wanted to spin off and form a boutique firm or go out on my own. It’s not that I don’t like my firm and my work, and the obvious trust that the partners have in me. I would just like a bit more of my time to be my time. What should I do to pursue it?
Don’t let anyone ever tell you that it’s glamorous to travel for business. It’s not. I’ve been stuck in Los Angeles for the last month, and I can’t wait to get the hell out of here.
Okay, I’m not exactly in Los Angeles. It’s LA County, all right? I’m stuck in some awful suburb called Woodland Hills, which is about an hour (or up to four, depending on the insane traffic) from anywhere cool or decent to eat or go out.
For the last month, there’s been no escape because nobody has a car. It’s eat, sleep, walk across the street to the client’s office (one of those office parks that looks like that movie Office Space) and repeat the process all over again—everyday, seven days a week.
Put it this way: If I want an exotic meal, I order the balsamic dressing for my salad at Tony Roma’s.
The saddest outing was last week when we went to PF Chang’s for one guy’s 30th birthday. I got indigestion, and the poor birthday boy was going to cry himself silly at the depressing thought of sharing that moment with only a few coworkers and professional acquaintances.
And forget about meeting any hot LA/Hollywood chicks at a nearby bar for a distraction. Woodland Hills only seats crusty, worn-out hags, who were probably not even hot in their prime. There’s just not enough tequila in the bar to make these women look good. (By the way, good luck finding tequila in these parts any better than Jose Cuervo. < Massive headache!)
But the chain restaurants are paradise compared to our third-world accommodations. We’re here too long to stay in a hotel, so the client is paying for us to stay in one of those long-term housing places. This is where you go when your wife has kicked you out of the house. You pay one bill, and you get a room, furniture, a kitchenette, and cable. Oh, and you get bed bugs, too. No extra charge.
I’m serious. The one guy who celebrate his 30th birthday with us got a special gift of bed bugs! When he came down to meet us in the lobby one morning last week, his neck, arms and legs were covered in red bumps. I moved apartments over the weekend, just to be safe, but now someone down the hall reported having them too.
I thought about moving rooms again, but there’s no point. Besides, the guy next to me is going through a bad divorce, and being able to hear him yell at his wife and then hang up crying makes me happy—at least somebody is more miserable than me.