Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Thank You Card

Once upon a time today was simply April 21st. Then, at some point along the time-space continuum someone, somewhere - if I was a betting man I would have wagered on either Hallmark or Deeds' Pizzeria - converted the Wednesday of the final full week of April into Secretaries' Day. At some point further on up the intergalactic superhighway it was considered "non PC" to refer to secretaries as....well, as secretaries. Thus, faster than you can say "Sammy Davis, Jr." the great conversion took place. Voila! Ladies and Gentlemen I give you Administrative Professionals Day.

I have practiced law for in the neighborhood of sixteen years and for the last twelve (save for a four-month dramatic interlude in a Hell whose name we dare not speak) at the Firm I have been aided greatly - some might say wholly - by the fact that I have always had an incredible Assistant. Candidly referring to another human being as my "Assistant" makes me more than slightly uncomfortable. I prefer to refer to that individual as I think of her - the person who works with me; not the person who works for me.

Cast in the role of professional co-pilot for me way back when in the halcyon days of 299 Cherry Hill Road was Tracey, who made the journey daily from Toms River to Parsippany. How far is that? I do not know for certain - being neither Lewis nor Clark but suffice it to say that it is pretty damn far from door-to-door. Tracey made that journey daily for the better part of two and a half years before she decided that working for an a##hole lawyer close to home sure beat the snot out of driving 90 minutes each way to do so. I am kidding of course....although Tracey did smartly choose to pursue an opportunity closer to home once one worth pursuing came along. And judging by the pictures of her little girl (who I think made Communion last Spring if I remember correctly) she made absolutely the right decision.

After Tracey departed, I did a Shermanesque March to the Sea through the secretarial staff until - about four months later - Gracie arrived. She picked up the mantle of "Let Us Assist Adam in The Non-Commission of Legal Malpractice" right where Tracey left it and did so unfailingly for more than four years. It was shortly before APD (it is what the cool kids call Administrative Professional Day) five years ago that she left in pursuit of more happiness. She and I have remained friends even as I work my way through my abandonment issues. We actually reconnected professionally for a while last year when I spent my time in Hell. How she stands it there is one of life's great mysteries - somewhere on the list higher than "How come no matter the size of the box of cereal when you open it up it is never more than half full?" but lower than "If Jimmy cracks corn and I don't care, then why did they write a song about it?" Yet she perseveres. Perhaps four-plus years of working with me steeled her resolve to overcome any challenge? I know not. I know that she is a better human being than she is a legal secretary/assistant and if you knew Gracie's work at all you would appreciate the breadth and depth of that compliment.

Shortly after Gracie moved on up to a pasture with better chlorophyll, T moved on upstairs from Floor #2 to the co-pilot seat outside of my office. She is a remarkable woman and a tremendous teammate as well. Keeping me out of trouble at work is kind of, sort of a full-time gig and she handles it flawlessly. No doubt having a teenage daughter at home has prepared her well for having to deal daily with someone whose maturity level is not often where one would expect it to be. And yes, I am referring to me, not to Bridget who is every bit her mother's daughter. I had a bit of trepidation that - having broken up our pair a year ago January when I left the Firm (for what termed out to be the professional equivalent of a really long lunch) - when I returned to the Firm last Memorial Day I had knocked our mojo asunder. Nope. We are rapidly approaching Anniversary I of Round II and it is as if we stepped right back into the stream at the point in the water where I had temporarily stepped out of it. The transition was seamless.

Good help is hard to find. At least that is what Tracey, Gracie and T have each told me over the years. And I have never doubted it. Not once. I have seen years and years of living proof.


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