Tuesday, February 15, 2005

PTO



About a week ago I was in my office packing up all of my personal stuff. I'd had enough, and I was getting ready to walk out for good. For the past six months, I've been working on a case that is on a fast track to trial in Federal Court against a law firm that will stoop to any level in order to win. In the midst of that, our firm has been remodeling and we had to pack up everything on our floor and move to a temporary location for two months and then pack it all up again and move back. Meanwhile, my boss has been made the managing partner of the firm -- which is like the boss of all bosses -- and the added pressure has been making him act like a real dickhead. So the other night when I was staying late to prepare him for an out-of-town deposition, and he basically told me that I was no help at all and I might as well go home, I came damn close to taking him at his word.

But I didn't. What I did do, however, was decide to take a couple of "personal" days off in order to try and restore my mental health. So the next morning I emailed them (that's what we do these days instead of calling in sick) and told them I would be out due to "illness." The thing about "Personal Time Off" is that you generally have to ask for it in advance, unless of course you're sick, then you just call in (or in my case send an email). But if you're sick for more than three days, you have to bring a doctor's note. Since I got "sick" on a Thursday, I didn't have to worry about the note.

There were other factors influencing my mental condition, besides the overwhelming amount of work and my boss's rude behavior. There was my back, which has been aching ever since I had to pack up and move about three hundred boxes worth of files when we changed floors. There's the fact that I'm trying to play in a band and write screenplays and never really feeling like I'm getting anywhere with either. And then there's the fact that my Mom had open heart surgery two weeks ago. Fortunately, she got through it very well and is recuperating nicely. My sister Cindy went down to see her last week and my other sister Susan is going next week. I will be heading down in early March. Even though I've spoken to her on the phone a lot since the operation, I don't think I'll feel quite right until I see her.


An essential step in my recovery was to catch up on some movie watching, especially with the Oscars coming up. So on Thursday I went see Million Dollar Baby, which is the best film so far by one of the best directors ever. It was truly cathartic and while I wouldn't say it made me feel "better," it definitely changed the way I felt. I also had a long talk with my Mom who was home from the hospital, well not too long, she still gets a little out of breath. She was completely supportive of my mental health vacation. I talked to Cindy too, it was a good to know she was there with Mom.

The next day was for errands -- I bought new underwear at Target. Why do they never have plain old size medium all-cotton boxers? I mean they carry them, sure, but every time I go there they are sold out -- except for one or two pair which I have to dig through all of the other sizes to find. I swear this is true every single time I shop for boxers and every single place I go, Kmart, Old Navy, you name it, they are always sold out of size medium all-cotton boxers. They have all the other sizes in abundance. They have boxer-briefs by the truckload. What the hell are boxer briefs anyway? Either it's a boxer or it's a brief. You can't have both. You can't. Who the hell is buying boxer briefs? Make a goddamn choice guys. Boxers or briefs, one or the other. And why can't the store figure out to carry more size mediums, since that's the size that always sells out? Do the math!

Clearly I was still a little stressed-out on Friday.

On Saturday I did a little work on my new screenplay and met up with Jimmy the lead singer in the band. We had dinner and then came back here and worked on a new song he is writing. Now this is how life should be. Work on the screenplay, dinner with a friend, play a little music. No boxes of documents, no annoying lawyers, nobody in the hospital.

By Sunday I was feeling almost human again. I worked all day on the screenplay and cooked myself a nice healthy meal with lots of fresh vegetables and brown rice. I watched the Grammys and fell in love with Alicia Keyes. I was ready to go back. Not looking forward to it, but ready.

When I got to work on Monday I heard all about the two huge last-minute crises I had missed on Thursday and Friday. I also found out the boss was out of town all week. All week! It was like another four days off. And unlike most of the time when he's away, this week I had no voice mails, no emails from his Blackberry, no last minute faxes -- not a peep. Maybe my sudden vacation had some effect on him as well.

Yesterday, the boss came back. And we were embroiled in another crisis -- some deal we had made with the other side had fallen through as they always do since those guys are a bunch of lying bastards. Plus we were in the middle of packing up everything to move back into our old offices. Naturally the crisis demanded that we come in to work this weekend, but we couldn't come in today since the offices wouldn't be ready for us. So it looks like the boss and I will be in the office tomorrow, shoulder to shoulder once again. Yesterday, he seemed a little reluctant to talk to me at first, but after a few awkward minutes we were back to the old routine. We've got two more months to trial, with any luck we'll make it without killing each other.

Wait until he finds out I'm going to Florida in two weeks to see my Mom.

So I still haven't quit my job. But I did bring home all of my personal stuff that I had packed up the other night. The only control I have in my job is the ability to leave it. This time it was enough just to leave for a couple of days. Next time it may be a lot longer.

Be well.
HWD

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