Sunday, June 03, 2007

Float Like an Elephant, Sting Like a Lady Bug

On Friday afternoon, I was passing the time with my customary eavesdropping campaign. Nothing exciting was going on, just run of the mill conversations, a request for an extension of time over here, a failure to respond to a letter over there. I was nearly falling asleep at my desk, when I suddenly heard yelling coming from one of my attorney’s offices.

YOU wanna have an adversarial conversation with ME! That’s what you wanna do? Okay, let’s do it then.”

I perked right up. This is getting good, I thought as I set down my pen and flipped into full eavesdropping mode.


Oh, fuck! I immediately picked my pen back up and pretended to be so engrossed in my work that I didn’t hear a thing. My mind was racing. Did I misconstrue the last message I took? Send docs to the wrong office? The other secretary in my office, a.k.a. "my friend"—who I’m not speaking to, which is an entirely-nother post altogether—comes sprinting over to my desk to inform me that Edison is looking for me. I act surprised and as calmly and slowly as possible stroll over to his office and peak my head in the door.


I’m literally shitting my pants as I rigidly waddle to the chair.

“Here she is! Let me put you on speaker phone, so we can get this settled right now!”

Who the hell is on the phone and what did I do? I’m done. Fired. Finished. I could feel the flesh on my body turning a flattering shade of blood red.

“Leila, tell Mr. Spocchio exactly what you did to try and get his documents delivered to him.”

Mr. Spocchio? Who? I know that name. Documents? Holy crap, Edison, I process tons of documents a day. Think, Leila! Then it hit me, I knew what he was talking about. It was one of our workers’ comp claimants accusing us of purposely withholding documentation. Voice wavering, palms sweating and flesh burning, I attempted to explain…

“Um, I, um, prepared the documents as I typically would, um, (You prepared the documents? Of course you prepared the documents! Great thinking, Leila.), um, for hand-delivery, then contacted our delivery service and was informed that they couldn’t deliver to a P.O. Box.”

I’m an idiot!

Really, what P.O. Box did you try to have them delivered to?”

Then Edison, (probably feeling guilty for the shade of red I was now sporting), stepped in.

“That’ll be enough, Leila, thank you.”

I nearly fell out of the door, only to find four co-workers gathered around enjoying the show. Great, now they think I’m an idiot too, but at least I’m not fired!

I shakily wobbled to the bathroom to regain composure.

* * *

The good news is, I didn’t beat myself up for the rest of the day over my crappy debut into the world of adversarial conversations. While it took some time for the shade of red to dissipate, I was surprisingly easy on myself. I’m even debating whether or not I should chastise Edison for bringing me into that situation.

Score one for the good guys!


Barbora said...

Glad you're not beating yourself up over this. I doubt your co-workers were judging you. They were probably just grateful not to have been invited in themselves.

Leila V. said...

True. I hope. Speaking of co-workers, how's the J.O.B. treating you?

Debaser said...

As a person who's not a lawyer but until very recently was a consultant for them, I've had my fair share of "adversarial conversations". In fact, they were basically what I did for a living.

One thing I'd NEVER, EVER do is bring someone else into the fray right in the middle of of it. Even in a meeting I wouldn't do that. But especially on the telephone. Shit, you know? And speaker phone?

You go in there and tell that rat bastard that there's a "hold" button on that phone for a reason, and suggest to him that next time he use it to at least let you know what the conversation's about.

Tell him your boyfriends a mafioso while you're at it, too. That should prevent some problems.

Leila V. said...

lol! Believe me, I've told him that in my head about twenty times. If I could only muster the courage to do it in person once.

Barbora said...

The more I thought about the situation you described, the more I realized that what Edison did, was NOT AT ALL ABOUT YOU. He didn’t call you because he thought you fucked up. He called you in because he was confident you did your job correctly. He called you in to shut Mr. Spocchio up.

The adversarial conversation probably could have gone on and even escalated without some intervention. “You’re withholding information.” “No, I’m not.”…and on and on.

You backed Edison up and provided a diversion. The fact that you were nervous or tentative in your response was unimportant. It was probably was even better. That way, Edison could look like he was almost siding with Spocchio. It also probably made it harder for the rat bastard on the phone to continue yelling with the same gusto. I noticed that Spocchio ‘s response to you wasn’t an immediate contradiction. He responded with a question about the PO Box. He was no longer disagreeing that anything was done but querying for more information about HOW it was done. Your pal, Edison won.

Yes, it would have been kinder if he used the mute button and filled you before putting you on the spot….and if monkeys flew out my ass, I’d pitch a tent and charge admission.

You did GREAT, Leila!

I wouldn’t chastise Edison for bringing me into the situation. I would probably say something like “I hope I was a help to you on Friday. You know you really took me off guard when you called me in. I’d appreciate if you’d give me a heads up in the future.” Then smile sweetly. You’re a professional.

But hell, You've probably figured all this out already : )

Leila V. said...

You're amazing. Very philosophical. I'm looking at the situation in a whole new light.

You're right about Spocchio's response, it was a definite concession. I didn't see it in that way before.

It is never about me! Once I can accept that, I think I'll be okay.

Thanks for the insight. I won't feel like such an ass when I return to work tomorrow.

Addie said...

I am also in awe of Barbora's insightfulness! I can't think of anything else to say except pat yourself on the back for handeling a stressfull situation very well!!

Debaser said...

hehe...I guess I'm a little confrontational.

Leila V. said...

Thanks. Barbora is great!

If only I had your confrontational spunk! ;)

Sean said...

Leila! Why would this little thingy even stress you in the least? PPPFFFFFTTTT, it was rat bastard's fault for not having a physical address.

And tee hee, I hope you used fictitious names to protect the innocent. That Edison might not like you talking shit 'bout him on these here Internets.

SA D. said...

That's the type of thing that would rattle anyone's cage, girl. Sounds like you handled it very well. You've got nothing to be embarrassed about. Your boss, on the other hand, should know better than to drag anyone into such a situation. Shame on him.