I am a creature of habit. At 3 p.m. everyday, I stroll to the bathroom with a hardcopy of The Sports Guy’s latest ESPN column and prepare for the best 20 minutes of my day. I’ve been doing this since I started in BigLaw, and nothing gets in my way. Nothing.
Recently, I headed down the hall for my 3 p.m. “meeting” on what was a particularly brutal day in BigLaw. All I wanted was 20 minutes of peace and quiet. No emails, no phones, nothing but me and my thoughts.
Favorite stall? Check.
Reading material? Check.
Toilet paper? Double check.
Seat covers? Missing.
I checked the stall next to me. Again, no seat covers. Ditto for the No. 3 stall, which is reserved for degenerates with poor aim.
I need the seat covers. I won’t sit without them. Call me a wimp, if you like. I don’t care. The buffering is critical. Because there’s no way I’m putting my bare ass where gnarly paralegals sit.
As I thought about some Spanish curse words to hurl at the janitor, I tried to make do by fashioning a seat cover from TP. No luck. Years in BigLaw have ruined my ass, and I seem to make some sort of wind tunnel as I sit, knocking the thin paper off the seat before contact.
After that unsatisfactory experience, I returned to my office and called my buddy Jason, who I regularly bitch to about our unsavory working conditions.
Me: You’re not gonna believe this.
Jason: Let me guess, no seat covers, right?
Me: Not a cool prank, man. You know I need my covers.
Jason: I know who it is.
Me: So tell me so I can rip his eyeballs out with a staple remover.
Jason: I know you’re gonna make it a thing and turn everyone against him.
Me: Me? Come on, that’s absurd.
Jason: Okay, well, Stanley must have some sort of OCD, because I saw him take all the seat covers from all three stalls and use them.
Me: That’s like 80 seat covers! Why would he do that?
Jason: I don’t know. The only explanation I can come up with is that he’s a lateral.
You see, to the naked eye, a lateral looks and talks just like a regular associate. But upon further inspection, there is always some telltale sign that gives away his freak flag.
Here are the signs I’ve come across during the course of my career:
1) Laterals attend all firm functions. All of them. Asian American Legal Defense Fund. He’s there. Gay and Lesbian Lawyers (I don’t the acronym—GALL?). Present. Militant Black Lawyers. Yup.
2) Laterals always have a weird catchphrase like “Hey stretch” or “Let the good times roll” that he never uses at the appropriate time.
Me: How’s that credit agreement markup coming along?
Lateral: Let the good times roll, stretch.
3) Lateral have girlfriends or wive,s but they are never seen or heard from. I can’t verify that this is 100 percent true, but it seems like laterals are forever dating someone from the Niagara Falls region.
It seems now I’ll have to add “Laterals steal bathroom seat covers” to the list.
For the record, I had nothing against Stanley prior to this ridiculous act of hoarding. He seemed like a normal dude, but then that was before his office was moved to my floor and I found out about his toilet seat cover fetish.
Last year, (when it was still an option) Stanley lateralled to my firm from another top firm. He had claimed that he “wasn’t getting the good deals.” And in my book, that’s code for incompetent social leper.
I don’t care what people say, laterals are freaks. That’s why they are forced to lateral. It’s like a McDonalds manager “lateralling” over to Burger King and telling his new cohorts he was looking for a different work experience. Come on, people! They lateral because they can’t do the work and nobody can stand to work with them. Period.
Other than exploiting their fear of speaking up by offloading work on them that is even shittier than what they claimed to be getting at their old firm (“Hey, Stanley, Partner just told me I need to focus on the Casino deal, so he’s gonna want you to take over that pencil company merger.”), I avoid Laterals like the plague.
A newly confirmed social leper like Stanley is the lowest kind of lateral. There is no worse sin than for one man to make another man feel uncomfortable in the bathroom. The bathroom is supposed to be the one safe haven from the office and the cruel streets below. When I sit down to read Bill Simmons, I want serenity. That’s my time. And guy code dictates that you respect that.
So I did what I do best—passive aggressive confrontation. If I could catch Stanley in the act, I reasoned, he might shape up.
I changed up the times of my “meetings” so that I could be an eyewitness to Stanley’s perverse ritual. Two days went by, and I somehow managed to miss him. I tried to have Jason monitor the situation, but he didn’t seem as enraged about this miscreant as I was. Finally, day three came, and the eagle landed.
I strolled right in ahead of Stanley so I could observe and report. I did a fake hand wash as he strolled into stall No. 1, my favorite. What I saw next could only be described as unholy. He actually opened the door, armed with all the seat covers and entered stall No. 2.
I tried to make him cognizant of his freakishness by giving him a “What’s up, buddy?” But he just gave me a nod and went about his business.
Do bank robbers nod at the guard right before they go up to the teller?
I swear on all of my illegitimate children that he proceeded to do the same thing in stall No. 2 before taking the throne in stall No. 3. I listened to double check, and he did, in fact, use all the seat covers. All at the same time.
Never once did he modify his behavior because of my presence.
“What do you think you’re doing, lateral?” I thought about asking through the door.
But it’s not like you can really do that. Again—guy code. So, I did the only thing I could. I found a vacant computer terminal and drafted the following memo:
Attn: Lateral Freak
Re: Your Violation of Guy Code
We know who you are. If you persist in using more than one toilet seat cover per bathroom visit, we will pack your office with so many seat covers that you won’t be able to move.
You don’t want that kind of story following you around as you lateral your way through BigLaw. And in this economy, you’ll be stuck here, the butt off a never-ending barrage of pranks, for a very long time.
End it here and all will be forgiven.
I fixed that “memo” to every stall door and toilet seat dispenser on my floor, and it worked. I made a note to tell my legal writing instructor, who said I lacked the ability to write persuasively, about my victory.
Jason said he’s since noticed Stanley coming out of the 20th-floor handicapped bathrooms near the conference rooms twice in the last week, and there have been rumors of an HR investigation. By reputation alone, I assume I’m their lead suspect. But I’m not worried. I hooked up with an HR chick last year. I never called her back, but I know her well enough to know that talking to me about my standing 3 p.m. meeting would just be too awkward.