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Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Work again. Yes I am whining still :P

Work continues to be… problematic. I got back today to see that my email had exploded with requests, demands but above all, assumptions

Oh how I hate those assumptions. “I have a client coming but can’t make it, so thanmks for meeting him at X.” “Y can‘t be on call to night, an issue, leave your phone on. Thanks.” “I need this filing/sorting/meeting/working, thanks!” It’s crafty, I have to give them that. If you ask you give someone the option of saying no. If you demand they have a chance to argue. If you order they can paint you as unreasonable. But just assuming you’ll do something implies that you’ve already agreed and if you say no it’s like you’re changing your mind and leaving them in the lurch. Bonus points for ensuring there IS a lurch. Wait until the last moment so no alternative can be arranged. Make it important, make the consequences for it not happening seem so dire and awful. Make it hard to be reached to change it, make it hard to change at all – inform the client already, or the court, or the other firm – anyone. Make it a hassle and odd and unusual to change it back again or change it to someone else.

Yeah, they’re good at this.

Anyway I ran into SP #3 who failed to avoid me quickly enough. Our brief and hurried discussion wasn’t exactly deep since he was in a hurry to get to court (keeping judges waiting? Bad. Yes yes it is). But he doesn’t think that treating my family and spousal commitments as less is important (quite literally hand waved it, in fact) because clearly they’re not a prejudiced firm because they hired ME (and an ex-colleague who has moved across the country) AND kept me on for years now. Oh and by all the gods let me be wrong in interpreting the tone, wording, facial expression and implication of that, tell me, SP #3, that you did not expect gratitude? Oh please let me have got that wrong. I’m extending the benefit of the doubt again, but this is getting awwwwwfully stretched.

I do not want another week like the last fortnight. I don’t think Beloved would stand for it. Even this weekend when I refused to go in for work I still brought work home with me, still put in reams of paperwork and spoke with clients.

Soooo, subtly hasn’t worked. Snarking hasn’t worked. Hints dropped like great big anvils haven’t worked. Trying to kill people with my glare hasn’t worked. Being so tired I can’t even drive to work without endangering the lives of myself and others hasn’t worked. I suspect running around the office with a big axe would work, but may have unpleasant consequences. For the same reason i have put down the napalm, alas.

So, it’s time for the dreaded confrontation – I’m aiming for all 3 partners there. SP #3 because he’s a lot of the problem, SP # 1 because he’s most of the problem and has 90% of the power (officially there’s no hierarchy, but personality-wise, he has the power) and SP #2 because she is more aware of the problem and more directly involved in giving the rubber stamp to the rest of the office to perpetuate it – and she may be the more clueful of the 3 partners.

So I’ve drafted a long and agonising “calling you out” email telling them I expect to able to see all three of them at their earliest convenience. Which I expect to be this week. Before Friday.

I’ve attached not only my email list for the weekend (with note that I received this AFTER having been driven to the point where I was unsafe for work or driving due to exhaustion, this was known at the office and STILL I get this load) as well as snap shots since I came off semi-sick and from beforehand. This work load is not reasonable

I pointed out that my unit count is now about 90 hours a week. The lowest it has been (barring one week during my fall) in the last 3 months has been 70 hours a week. Ok this is billed units which isn’t QUITE the same as hours (hush, lawyer secret) but still. On average I pull in a good 50-60. This is not maintainable. My home life, my social life, my health cannot maintain this. And I know it’s happening already – quite aside from the mood swings, whenever I skip meals and sleep my immune system plummets and I get sick, I can feel it happening again. I hate being ill. I’m REALLY whiney when I’m ill. You think these are all angst filled and moany now? If I get ill i will be whole new levels of pathetic.

I awkwardly and, I think politely and carefully, pointed out that there is a significant difference between how I am treated and how straight members of the firm are treated. How their relationships and families and respected, how they are expected – encouraged – to take time for their partners and spouses while my free time is always considered available, how my desire to spend some time with Beloved is treated, at best, as an unreasonable imposition and, at worst, as a hollow, shallows excuse. I think that, if anything, I’ve stressed how much I want to believe I am just being treated as the firm’s doormat – the accommodating fool who can’t say no – but there have been too many comments, too many hints that my relationship is less, to much ignoring of Beloved, too much consideration given to any relationship but mine and – now – an implication that I, as a gay man, should be grateful that I am employed by the firm – GRATEFUL! – that I can’t ignore it any longer

In doing so I have also made it clear that I’m not saying this as a foundation for a discrimination claim. I debated including this – but we are a law firm and such a claim will come to mind even if I don’t expressly state it. I haven’t pointed out the unfairness of my treatment, the random comments and the general badness as a comment on homophobia in the hope of a payout or legal resolution. They are included as a wake up call, as a desperate plea for them to see sense and see how unfair and wrong what they are doing is, not as a threat, but as an attempt to educate and raise awareness.

Above all I made it clear how much I love this job and this firm. And I do. I love the SPs, I love SP#1 with his voice that has the depth and resonance of Christopher Lee, the vocabulary of Shakespeare and the power of Brian Blessed as well as respect and am in awe of his encyclopaedic knowledge of the law that is second to none. I love my colleagues, I love the old building, I love the vault that we can shut trainees in, I love the randomness the eccentricity, the general silliness. I love this place and I want to continue to do so – but it’s getting damn hard. I stressed that my point here is a wish to return to sensibility, a wish that things be reasonable – not an ultimatum, not a threat and not a general whine against the firm. I like this firm, I don’t like its current actions.