What Happened, Part 2: Can Anybody See Me?

I go back into the room with all the attorneys, trying to act as nonchalant as possible.  We talk for a bit, I think.  Probably more like they talk for a bit.  They’re swearing so much.  I try to force myself to be comfortable.  Just smile and laugh when appropriate.  Too soon to interject with any joke or anecdote today.  Maybe by the end of the week.  Nobody’s even looking at me.  How many new people do they have coming in and out of here that they just let one stand there and not inquire about anything about?  I’m new!  Isn’t that alone somewhat interesting?

After a while, we all disperse.  I see one of the attorneys from the room in the hallway.  He’s looking at his phone, maybe texting, maybe surfing the web.  I decide to force the issue.  I stop to chat with him.

“Hey, it’s Bob, right?”

“Yeah.”

“How long have you been working here.”

“10 years.”

“So I take it this place is alright, then.”

“Yeah.”

“Did you work anyplace else before here such that you can compare it?”

“No.”

“OK, then.  I’ll see you around.”

His eyes were on his phone the whole time.  Maybe it’s an important message he’s reading.  Or maybe he’s just a dick.

I go back to the void that is allegedly my office.  I leave my pens and my legal pad on my desk.  Finally, there’s something useful in the room.  I head out for the day.

I drive to pick up my wife.  This time, I can’t even chat.  I’m upset and she knows it.  We drive home without saying anything.  We go inside and don’t talk for a while.  Finally, I do talk.

Breakdown #1.

It’s loud.  It’s frantic.  I’m jumping around.  I stop to sit, then I stand up and jump around some more.  I start yelling that I made a terrible mistake and that I shouldn’t be there.  She’s scared.  I can’t blame her, I’m out of my mind.  We go for a walk to try to calm me down.  It doesn’t work.  Finally, after my mind going back and forth about whether I actually could develop the gall to quit after my second day, I resolve that I will stick it out for one solid month and then see where we go from there.  I can do that!  If I just tell myself that I can leave after a month, I’ll stop worrying so much!  That night we go to bed and I fall asleep no problem.

I wake up at 4am.

Not totally unusual, but this time my mind starts up and it doesn’t slow back down.  Come on, just relax and go back to sleep!  You don’t want to be groggy as well as stressed out at work!  Not happening.  I give it an hour, but nothing’s happening.  I can’t find a single position that is comfortable.  My wife is sound asleep next to me.  I wish I was her right now.

At 5am, I give up.  I get up before anything useful can be accomplished.  I go and watch a bit of the early-early local news.  At 5:40, I get my gym stuff together.  I head out to the gym and get there just as it opens up at 6am.  I get two miles in on the track, but obviously I don’t have the energy that I normally have.

I get back home at about 6:50.  My wife is up, and she’s worried.  She’ll be worried a lot the next few weeks.  I shower, eat my usual eggs and toast, and off to the highway again.  Off to my secret parking spot.  Off to the security dance.  Off to confusion, stress, and awkwardness again.  Day 3.  Just 29 days to go.

 

I had no point-person to turn to on my third day.  My trainer had kicked his heels clean of me yesterday afternoon.  I don’t really have a place to be or anybody to see at this point.  I go back to the room where all the attorneys were hanging out, the cussing matriarch’s temporary office.  The matriarch isn’t there yet, so I wait.  8:30 comes and goes, as does 8:45.  She shows up at about 8:50.  She tells me to shadow another attorney on the floor for the day to get a handle on how cases are entered into the system and the paperwork that’s involved.

I can do that!

I find a guy who’s about my age.  I had been introduced to him before.  He’s an ex-cop who just started a few months ago.  He’s alright, but slow to really warm to people.  Either that, or he just really doesn’t have much of a personality.  Nice guy, though.  I think we’ll get along fine.  He shows me the process.  Every case, no matter how small and mundane has an officer come in with the reports to talk about the facts.  He listens and read the reports and puts about 1200 marks in the computer system.  Then he quickly types out a probably cause reports for a proper information.  He then swears the officer (HE swears the officer, hand up and everything!) on the veracity of the information in the report, then packages everything up to get ready to send to the preliminary hearing.  Throughout the process, he says to me once or twice something infuriating that I’d hear many more times throughout the next week or so.

“I’m sure you did this in Arizona.”

No.  No I did not.  I did not because the process is very different down in the desert.  Down there, things actually make sense!  OK, I concede that had I gone to law school in Wisconsin and did my internship in a Wisconsin office, the procedures in Arizona would probably seem batshit crazy to me.  But I didn’t.  I was trained in a completely different manner, and I need training.  I need much better training than what I’m getting.

Lunch time comes.  Today, I am not buying a lunch.  I brought a microwavable soup and an apple.  I am set to eat on the cheap!  Somebody had told me that a lot of the attorneys eat in a large conference room on the 8th floor, on the other end of the building from where my office is.  I head down there.  As I walk up to the door, a 30-something attorney is coming out.

“Can I help you?”

“No, I was just coming in.”

“Do you work here?”

“Um, yeah.”

From the room, which had gone silent when my attempt to enter was blocked, comes laughing voices, “It’s the new guy!”  I get let in.  Awkward, and I’m sure I’m red-faced (as I’m prone to get).  I find a seat at the crowded table.  There’s over 20 attorneys in here.  They’re talking about cases and whatnot.  I can’t follow any of it, obviously.  And of course, they’re swearing.  I eat my lunch without saying a word.

He has me do some menial tasks to make me feel useful.  I take some papers to this woman.  I go ask this one guy a question.  I go copy a CD of photos for disclosure.  I’m doing stuff, man!  During one of my gopher stops, I introduce myself to a member of the staff.  I say it’s my first week.  She says that she remembers how hard it was when she first started.

“Why’s that?”

“Because they don’t train you here.”

“They really don’t train you, like at all?”

“Nope.  It’s pretty bad.  They just toss you in there.”

“Wow.  I thought it was just me!”

It’s not just me!  It’s not that they just figured that I’d know exactly what to do because I was a prosecutor somewhere else!  They don’t train anybody!  They are that stupid!  They are absolutely OK with have ridiculous amounts of incompetence and inefficiency in their office!  The thought is equally terrifying and freeing.  At least I can stop worrying about when they’re going to teach me the ropes any further.  They’re not!  OK, then.  Eff it.

At the end of the day, a more senior prosecutor comes in to chat.  He’s slightly plump with a white mustache.  He is the walrus in this story.  He talks fast, but listens fast, too.  He’s direct, and he points when he talks.  He asks what schedule I have.  I say I don’t have one.  He says that’s going to be fixed.  By the end of the week they’ll have a plan for me that will start the following week.  Until then, I should just stick around with the ex-cop and keep learning about the charging process.

Hey, that sounds like a plan.  A plan!  Relief!!!  I say to the walrus, “I know we just met, but I am not above hugging you right now.”  He smiles.  Amusing.

Things are looking up.  I head back up to my office.  In the elevator with me is a female attorney who I had heard had attended the University of Michigan.  I try to converse, and try to be one of the group in the only way I know how at that point.

“So, you went to Michigan?”

“Yeah.  And you’re a Spartan, right?”

“You’re goddamn right.”

I feel majorly awkward saying it.  I swear, but usually I’ve had a few or I’m watching sports.  I don’t swear at work!  But there I did.  It felt wrong.  I resolve never to do it again.  They’ll just have to deal with my clean mouth.

I head home with the positive news that they have a plan for me.  My wife is relieved.  Dinner.  Some TV.  Bed.  I fall asleep, no problem.

This time, I wake up at 3am.

I’m up, and I already know how this story goes.  I don’t even give it ten minutes.  I get out of bed.  I read a bit.  I watch late-night Christian TV (we get a Christian channel despite not having cable, and some of their programming is just too oddball not to watch).  Some two and a half hours later, I head to the gym again.  I’m becoming a 6am regular.  Two miles more.  I usually can do three or four when I’m just casually working out, but I don’t have the energy today.

Home.  Shower.  Eggs.  Toast.  Tie.  Suit.  Kiss goodbye.  Highway.  Parking spot.  Security dance.  I’m in.  Day 4.  28 days to go.

 

There is nothing particularly note-worthy about this day.  I observe more case entering.  I perform more menial tasks.  I am given a case to enter in myself!  This is learning.  Just doing something right away that counts.  I do it well enough, I think.  Whether it’s good or not is inconsequential.  It’s in the system.

The day drags on.  I have lunch in the big room again.  Soup and apple again.  I’m probably going to lose weight on this job.  Afternoon drags like the morning.  Things are boring, but I can handle boring.  I’ve been bored most of my life.  This is what I’m good at.  I’m tired.  Of course, I’ve been up since 3am!  I start to think that I hope that doesn’t happen again tonight.  But then an awful thought creeps in.  It’s one of those thoughts that just slides in without much notice but then sets fire to your brain.  It’s the worst thought I could possibly have.

“What if I can’t fall asleep at all?”

That’s a bad thought.  Don’t think that!  You know it’ll just stress you out and it’ll be a self-fulfilling prophesy!  Don’t worry about it.  Just go home and relax.  You’ll sleep fine tonight.

I go home.  Dinner.  TV.  Brush teeth.  Contacts out.  Lie down.

“What if I can’t fall asleep at all?”

I don’t fall asleep.

 

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