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July 04, 2022

Cappuccino Is the Answer for Job Dissatisfaction 2

By Hillary E. Peak



Chapter 2

When I graduated from law school, I went back to my hometown and lived with my parents. Not exactly what I wanted to do, but when you are unemployed, you have few options.

My first week home, Ashley, one of my best friends, took pity on me and invited me to come and stay with her in Albuquerque. She had just moved into a new rental house with a couple of other girls, and they were planning a big party to get it off on the right foot.

"Jess," Ashley gushed when I picked up the phone, "come up this weekend! We are having a big bash to celebrate moving in. We'll party all weekend -- just like we did in Cancun! Drink 'til the wee hours, sleep past noon, do a little shopping and start drinking again."

"Sounds great! But don't let me get anything else pierced this time -- no matter how insistent I am."

"Your belly button ring is fab! So sexy! I still wish I'd gotten one that night. But at least I have pictures of you."

"That was such fun! When I get a job, let's plan another long weekend to go somewhere!"

Ashley hung up, and I got busy preparing for a fun weekend.

That was where I met Sam. He was working at the same firm as my friend and was a guest at the party.

"Are you new to E&Y?" this handsome guy walked up and asked.

"No, I'm a friend of Ashley's."

"Now I recognize you -- aren't you the one that had your belly button pierced at that bar in Cancun?"

I blushed a little. "Yeah, that's me."

"Wow! You're different that I thought you would be."

"I'm not really sure what that's supposed to mean." I responded a little tartly.

"Sorry -- you seem very sophisticated. I expected more of a wild party girl."

"I have my moments, clearly need to remember not to let Ashley photograph them. What will this do for my lawyerly image?

"You're a lawyer?" He asked, more incredulous than I would have liked.

"Yeah. Don't you think I look like a lawyer?"

"No. I would have guessed drug rep or news reporter. But a lawyer, never."

"I don't know whether I should be offended or if that's a good thing," I said with a wink.

"You should definitely be offended. Want to get out of here? We could go to a great little jazz club I know of."

"I'd like that."

Out we went, with people staring after us. It was clear they were surprised we were leaving together. The jazz club was really hip. Sam bought me a Cosmopolitan and got himself a beer.

"So, tell me something about yourself besides that you're a lawyer with a navel ring."

I stifled a laugh. "Well, I drink things that come with tiny umbrellas, I love to shop, I do yoga and kickboxing, and I'm going to fix the world's problems."

"You have the answers, huh?"

"I do. What about you? I don't know anything about you."

"One day I'm going to Run Exxon or ATT or some other Blue Chip company. I fly hot air balloons and watch basketball every chance I get."

The jazz played on, we drank and talked and laughed. "This is more than I hoped for on this trip," I thought excitedly, and a little tipsy from too many cosmos. "He is cute and smart and funny -- and he thinks I'm funny." I realized as he threw his head back to laugh at my jokes.

Suddenly, it was two a.m. and we were making our way back to Ashley's house.

"I had a really great time." His deep chocolate eyes held mine. He leaned forward and brushed my lips with just a hint of a kiss. "Can I see you again?"

"I'd like that," I whispered, the kiss having made me even more lightheaded than the alcohol.

"Tomorrow?"

Reality crashed in on me. "I can't . . . I don't live here."

"What? Where do you live?"

I was so disappointed, and mortified that I still lived with my parents.

I walked into Ashley's -- my buzz totally killed by the fact that I wouldn't be going out with Sam the next night.

Ashley was waiting for me on the couch. "Where have you been?" She demanded in a very happy, tell-me-all-the-details kind of way.

"We went to a jazz club."

"Oo, that sounds good. Why are you depressed? It seemed like you liked him."

"I do," I practically wailed, "he asked me out for tomorrow, but I can't go since I'm going home, and I don't live here and I'm never going to see him again." A little sob followed my outburst.

"Don't be ridiculous. You can come anytime. See him as much as you want."

"Really?"

"Of course." She said firmly. "Now, did he kiss you or what?"

We giggled past four when we both fell asleep, exhausted.

When I returned to my parent's house, I found a dozen pink tulips waiting for me. "This is the kind of man I've been looking for." My heart began to soar.

"I like this one already," my mother exclaimed as she fingered the delicate blooms.

"Me too," I nodded, filling the vase with water and arranging my flowers. "He's a keeper, I think."

I picked up the phone. "Hey, the flowers are beautiful. I just love them."

"Good -- does that mean you're coming back up this weekend?"

"I wish I could. I'm going to my cousin's wedding. What about the week after?"

Sam sighed heavily. "I suppose I can wait that long, if I have to. I'll see if I can't get a balloon to fly that weekend."

Since I had returned from law school sans a real job, my dad had set up an internship with one of his lawyer friends. Although I wasn't thrilled, I was getting paid, so I didn't have much basis for complaint.

I returned from my weekend in Albuquerque to the office of a sole legal practitioner where I was going to do whatever I was asked to do. On Monday, Mr. Saunders asked me to meet with a client and "prep" her for a deposition about her car wreck. Easy enough.

"Don't give additional information," I instructed. "Answer only what you are asked."

She nodded along, looking at me wide-eyed, with something akin to awe.

I felt after an hour and a half that she was as ready as I could make her to be bombarded with questions.

Each day was a new task -- write up an adoption, review a pleading, go visit a client in jail. I was fascinated by how diverse his work was. No two days were the same -- family issues, criminal issues, on top of car wrecks and social security disability.

By the second week, I felt like I was getting the hang of it, but I was itching to get out of town and see Sam again. The phone was a poor substitute for real, physical contact.

It was Thursday, I was full of nervous energy -- I was leaving in the morning to see Sam again and I was going to my first case where I'd be in front of a judge as an attorney. I dressed in one of my basic black interview suits. Mr. Saunders was in trial for the day on a disability case, and he'd asked me to sit at the counsel table with him. I felt important, almost a real lawyer (I hadn't gotten my bar results yet, but I felt quite certain I'd passed). I met Mr. Saunders at the foot of the courthouse steps where he pushed papers and exhibits into my arms.

"I need you to keep everything straight and keep me on track." He was sweating profusely and kept mopping his brow with a handkerchief. "Sometimes I get a bit off track. The Judge made it clear that I'm only going to get today, so I need to make it good." I nodded and followed him inside.

When we sat down at the counsel table, I went through everything to try and organize the case for presentation to our six-person jury. I was glad to see outlines of direct examinations and cross examinations of witnesses. He was clearly prepared, even though his constant flipping through his notes gave a different picture.

Once it began, the trial went smoothly. Mr. Saunders presented his case quite thoroughly, showing that his client had been injured on the oil rig owned by the company, but the company didn't want to pay worker's compensation, and easily discredited their witnesses, particularly showing the company's malice toward their employees who were injured and could no longer work. I was impressed, and the faces of the jury told me they felt the same way.

In the break prior to closing arguments, I congratulated Ms. Saunders.

"You're really great! I can tell the jury is persuaded by you."

"Thanks." With his chest out, and no sweat coming from his brow, I could see that any nerves had been displaced with the fun of the trial.

"I have one final card up my sleeve," he told me, crumpling his Dixie cup and tossing it into the trash before we walked back into the courtroom.

His closing summed up the injury and bad acts of the company. But at the last moment, he reached in his briefcase and pulled out a set of false teeth in a transparent container. "After his accident, my client was left with nothing but a set of false teeth!" He exclaimed, as he waived the container back and forth.

"Maybe I don't want to be a lawyer after all," I thought in horror as I watched the false teeth glint in the fluorescent light.

Friday morning finally arrived. Two weeks of not seeing Sam had crawled by, but once I got in the car, the time disappeared. I was standing in front of Ashley's mirror. "You don't think it is slutty?"

"A little revealing, but not slutty. You want to show a little skin, keep him interested," she admonished knowingly.

"But you can't see anything?" I asked as I took a twirl in front of the mirror.

"No," she assured me, "but I think his imagination will run wild."

Sam arrived, just a little late. By then, I was pacing like a caged wild animal.

"Ready?" he asked, a bit breathless. "We kind of need to hurry."

He pulled me out the door and into the car. The car gave a little squeal when he put it into gear, and we were off.

We flew down the streets and arrived -- at a vacant lot. Puzzled, I followed him when he got out of the car.

"Damn, not here yet," he muttered.

Where was here? I wondered, trying not to get concerned. My strappy sandals and miniskirt weren't exactly made for dirt lots.

Suddenly, a truck appeared with a giant basket on the bed. The moment the truck stopped, two guys jumped out and began pulling the basket out onto the ground. "Hey Sam," one of them acknowledged him with a nod. "Sorry we're running a little late."

"Hurry it up or we'll miss it." He was clenching his fist and pacing around the basket.

Red and yellow began to emerge from the basket. Then I knew, it was a hot air balloon. They worked to pull the balloon out from the basket then began to fill it up. I was mesmerized as it grew and grew before my eyes.

Sam grabbed a small cooler from his car and put it in the basket. Holding out his hand, he smiled at me. "Let's get off the ground before we miss it entirely, shall we?"

"What are we missing?" I'd wanted to know for ages.

"The sunset, of course." His furrowed brow and quizzical expression made me feel dumb -- I should have realized.

Once inside, his friends let the ropes go, and we floated into the air. The sky was ablaze in yellows, pinks, oranges, reds and purples. New Mexico skies are the most beautiful in the world, huge with deep, rich colors.

"Stunning," I whispered, awed by the glorious sight.

"Not as lovely as you," he murmured as he pressed his body up to mine, nibbled my neck, then my ear, and finally kissed me with such hunger it took my breath away.

Over our picnic, once we were back on the ground, Sam peppered me with questions. "What are you doing? I mean during the day?"

"I'm looking for jobs and working part-time for one of my parents' lawyer friends. He had me doing research and writing things for him, and he offered me a job, but living in a town of twenty thousand wasn't what I had in mind."

"What kind of jobs are you looking for?"

"I'm not totally sure. I know that I want it to be important and have an impact. It needs to make a difference and be, I don't know, worthwhile. I want to be known, like Daniel Webster or Clarence Darrow."

"Don't you think you would have a better chance of doing that up here?" He glanced up at me with a slight smile.

"Maybe," I responded, not wanting to give in quite yet. "Do I have a reason to be up here?"

"I think I might be able to give you a reason." He retorted, pulling me underneath him on the blanket and kissing me deeply. "What do you think?" He asked in a low growl.

"Maybe," I said breathlessly and kissed him again.

"So it's settled, this week you'll work on finding a job here." He asked as he caressed my back, pulling up my blouse to expose my midsection and gently flicking his tongue over my navel ring.

"I think I better," was all I could think to say.

Another one of my parents' friends was the state senator for our town. I headed over to his office on Monday when I returned home. The paneling on the wall was all but invisible with pictures of him with various important people, including a couple with prior U.S. Presidents.

"Uncle Lewis," I stooped to give him a kiss. "Do you know of any jobs in Albuquerque?"

"No, beautiful, but the legislature's looking for analysts. Why don't you apply? I'll put in a word for you."

"Thank you! That would be perfect! I know I'll just love it."

I bounced home on air -- very soon I'd be near Sam all the time. Besides, it was just the type of job I was perfect for. The legislature would definitely give me a chance to make policy. All those things that were going wrong like welfare and health insurance and social security -- I had answers to all those things. I knew they would love my ideas! I'd be on my way to the White House in no time flat. So, I took a job with the New Mexico State Legislature in Santa Fe for a session. I was so excited; I was on my way to changing the world. This was the beginning of my life! My dreams were going to come true. Plus it was only forty-five minutes away from Sam. Thrilled was an understatement.

Right away I started looking for housing in Santa Fe. I wanted to live close to the Plaza so I'd be able to walk to work and to the little stores and galleries. I was going to be making four thousand for the session, so I figured I could have a nice place to live, spending money and something left over at the end. Sam and I went to Santa Fe to try and find me something cute. We got a newspaper and started calling around.

The first place we went was only a couple of blocks off the plaza. When we walked in, I almost fainted -- it was a single room. The couch pulled out into a bed. So, we pulled it out, just to see, but when we did, Sam and I were stuck between the dresser and where the TV was sitting. The landlord put out his hand to pull me out, then we each took one of Sam's hands and heaved to extract him, causing the bed to spring up and fall back in a heap. The bathroom and kitchen were together so that "only one sink was needed." I tried to smile and say thank you before I ran out the door.

"Were they crazy?" I wondered. I looked at Sam, his face locked in a grimace.

The next one we tried was behind a gallery and up two flights of stairs. It was small, but it did have more than one room! The living room was too small for a couch, so they had put two chairs in front of the television. The bedroom had a twin bed and an armoire because there was no closet. I was considering it until the landlord brought me back to reality. "The cost for the session is six thousand."

Politely, I said, "No."

As we walked out, I fixed my eyes on Sam. "Do you think they're all going to be like this?" I worried out loud; I was getting more than a little concerned.

"They can't be, can they? No one would come up here and pay more than they're going to make."

That helped. He was right. No one was going to get something for more than they were making. Therefore, there had to be something for me. I could do this. I could find a great place to live.

Examining the map and the newspaper, we determined that the next place was just a few blocks away. Santa Fe simply paved over the cattle trails when the automobile came, so the streets wind all over the place, generally only large enough for one vehicle. No parking exists, so cars are parked all over the place. It is a minefield for the inexperienced.

Twenty-five minutes later, we arrived at the apartment, which was off an unmarked alley. All the streets surrounding it were one way, so it took seven turns to get into the alley where the apartment was snuggled between two large Pinon trees embraced by a porch with typical Santa Fe viga beams pushing out. In the icy wonderland, it looked like a gingerbread house glazed in sugar frosting, with glistening icicles clinging to the roof of the porch, making the picture complete.

Entering a large room with brick floors and an enormous kiva fireplace in the center of the room, I could just see the old Navajo woman removing the golden loaves of bread. The tile in the kitchen had little kokopellies on every other one in a variety of colors. This was what I had in mind as the perfect Santa Fe dwelling for my legislative experience. I loved it, but it was very chilly.

"It's beautiful," I mused to the landlord, rubbing my hands together and then rubbing them over my arms in an attempt at warmth.

"Thanks. It is so perfectly Santa Fe, isn't it?"

"Did you just put the heat on before we arrived?" I was trying not to be rude, but I was freezing, stamping my feet to try to keep them warm, which was a waste over the icy brick floors.

He chuckled. "There's no heat. You get all the warmth you need from the fireplace."

The fire was roaring, but with temperatures dipping into the teens at night, this was not going to provide all the heat I needed, unless a bear was going to be living in there with me to walk over and sleep with.

I smiled, "I am so sorry, this place is fabulous, but I have to have heat."

The landlord shrugged. "No matter, there are dozens of others like you."

We followed him out.

"Sam, I have to have something hot to drink."

"Even I was cold in there," Sam said as we hurried to the nearest Starbucks. "I think we should give up on getting you near the plaza and find you a decent place to live."

I nodded. Although I was disappointed, I knew he was absolutely right.

After we drank some hot cocoa and split a biscotti, we felt ready to tackle the living arrangement issue again. Sam had acquired an apartment guide and was scanning it.

"There are two places in town that offer furnished apartments. Only one is on the same side of town as the Round House, where you will be working with the state legislature. The other one is at least half an hour away. I'm sorry Jess, but the choices seem to be limited." He winked at me.

I grinned. "Yeah, I'd say one choice is limited. Let's go see it."

It was about a ten-minute drive to the apartment complex, a typical complex with laundry, gym and two hundred units. We went in and asked about furnished places.

"Sure, let me show you what we've got." We followed him up the hill.

"Here we go." He opened the door to a very cute, clean, regular apartment. It had a round dining table and four chairs, a green and white striped couch with a matching chair making up the living room, and a TV/VCR combo in the corner. The bedroom had a double bed and a dresser. To my great relief, there was a separate kitchen and bathroom.

"How much is it?" I asked. It was pretty nice, so I was concerned.

"Fifteen hundred a month."

That was the cheapest I'd heard or seen.

"Great! I'll take it." It wasn't what I wanted, I wasn't at the Plaza or within walking distance to work, but I could afford it and it was clean. That was enough for me.

On the day the job began, I stood evaluating my wardrobe. On a shopping trip prior to starting my life, my mother and I had spent a day on one of our famous shopping adventures, going to every store for a hundred miles. I'd discovered Joseph Ribkoff and bought four new suits to begin this job. They were so gorgeous. I couldn't decide which one to start with -- my red slip dress with matching red jacket that was as long as the dress, trimmed in black, but perhaps the material wouldn't be warm enough since it had snowed four inches the night before. Black was always good for a first impression. I loved the black suit -- it was similar to the red one, but with a larger collar and made of warmer material.

In the end, I chose the olive and black one trimmed in suede that I felt was more suited to the weather. I pulled out my new all-weather knee length boots. When I put it all together, it was fabulous. I'd painted my nails the night before in OPI's "I'm Not Really a Waitress." Nothing like perfect nails to go with the perfect suit. I felt ready to tackle the world, and I definitely looked the part.

"This is the beginning," I said to myself as I drove to my first real job on my way to changing the world. "By the end of this month I'll be on my way to Washington because of all the great things I will accomplish here. Soon, I'll be writing legislation that will make America even better."

The morning was crisp, white with new-fallen snow, making Santa Fe look magical. Feet crunching on the frozen ground, I turned the corner onto the expansive walkway leading to New Mexico's seat of government, the Round House. In pink adobe-colored stucco, the Round House is a modern version of New Mexico Territorial, flat roofed with white trim and parapets wrapping the floor-to-ceiling windows. As I moved up the walkway, I knew I was following in the footsteps of those who had made New Mexico the real Land of Enchantment, the vital business that could only happen here. Pulling myself to my full-height, five-five (OK, five-one with four inch heels), I mounted the stately portico with determined steps.

Pushing the weighty brass doors, I entered the grand rotunda. The Zia, the symbol of New Mexico taken from a Native American symbol for the sun, emblazoned in gold on the pale ivory marble floor, at least twenty feet in diameter, made the room magnificent. Standing there, trying to catch my breath, I knew this was my beginning. "Here's where I start changing the world!" I relished the idea of going to my first high school reunion with the problems of New Mexico solved under my tutelage.

I walked to the office, passing ranchers in well-worn cowboy hats and boots, farmers in thick denim, and Native Americans in beautiful shawls and silver jewelry. I passed several groups of people and heard Spanish, English and other languages I did not know, but I assumed to be Navajo.

When I arrived at the door to the legislative analysts' office, I felt steeped in culture, tradition and the New Mexico I had grown up in. My euphoria faded like eau de toilette purchased instead of perfume when I walked inside. A guy in an orange Versace suit was standing there talking rapid fire, his hands twirling like windmills. The suit was terrible, even though I knew it was expensive, but he looked so out of place here among the ranchers and Native Americans. The orange Versace was an actual neon sight blinking "I don't belong" everywhere he went. He caught sight of me.

"Hey!" He was already pumping my hand, his cell phone ringing while he tried to sign a paper someone had shoved under his nose. "Hello? This is Joe. Yes, I'm coming right now. No problem."

"You're Jessica?"

"Yes. So, are you the Versace signpost?" I was trying to make a joke, but I could see that he didn't take it that way.

"This is an actual Versace suit. It is very expensive and was featured in GQ. This is Cathy, she'll show you the ropes." He disappeared, but his annoyance seemed to linger. I looked around seeing a woman seated at a computer typing hurriedly. She wore a typical Santa Fe style broom skirt and a large turquoise squash blossom necklace. Her poncho fringe looked quite worn; I caught myself before I suggested she get a new one.

"Hi, I'm Cathy. I've been working sessions for twelve years. I see you are an attorney?"

"Yes, I just graduated."

"Good, this will be easy for you. I do this every year to earn a little extra so that I can then take off a month or two and go to Italy. I love Italy! Have you been?"

"No, I'd love to go. The pictures I've seen are beautiful."

"I speak fluent Italian and Spanish, so I'm very valuable around here. I'm going to give you a couple of committees. You'll look over the bill, call the sponsor and write up a two or three page summary with questions? OK, you've got that?"

"Here's your computer." It was right next to her. Literally, we were touching elbows. I had no idea what this would be like. She continued talking as she typed.

"What area of law are you going to practice in?"

"Well, I don't really want to practice," I started.

"What?!? You HAVE to practice. Everyone will expect you to practice. You have to give it a try, then you can do something else. It is imperative that you use your degree first, as a lawyer. That's what I did before I started taking on jobs like this that were a set term, so that I could spend my time in Italy."

I was nodding along with her. No one had told me that I had to practice before I went into something else. It made sense, I guess. After all, I had a law degree and passed the bar. The only thing was, I didn't really want to practice law. I was getting a tad worried. Did I really have to practice law? What if I didn't like it? That hadn't been what I had in mind at all. I was here to change the world -- didn't she understand that? Practicing boring old law wasn't on my agenda. This was my first step toward advising Senators, then probably the President. I had very few years to make my stamp on things before I was like George Stephanopoulos. I couldn't possibly be bothered with practicing law.

But then again, maybe Cathy would be my mentor. I could use a mentor. After all, she was in the top spot here at the legislature and that had to mean something. I needed to know why I should practice law, where should I practice, what did I need to do to achieve my dreams? This made me feel confused and conflicted. Then I realized that Cathy was continuing to talk to me. Ugh, I had no idea what she had been saying.

She handed me a pile of papers. I looked down and saw a Senate Bill Number. Guess this is my first assignment. I wondered if I could grab a quick cappuccino before I got started because I just wasn't ready to sit down and tackle this quite yet. Transition was what I needed.

I opened my mouth to tell Cathy I was just going to pop out for a coffee and ask if my new mentor wanted one. But before I could get it out, "Get right to work. There is no time to spare! You are going to be incredibly busy," she ordered. Shut mouth, I thought sadly. I really wanted a mocha or maybe a latte. Maybe I could pretend to go to the bathroom.

I looked back at Cathy, trying to size up if I could get away.

"Start reading!" She demanded.

What I wanted to say was, "What exactly am I reading? What am I looking for? What am I supposed to be doing?" But Cathy clearly had no time for questions. Oh OK, I give up, I'll go without coffee right now. I sighed. I really wanted a treat before I started reading all this junk.

As I looked over my first bill, which was in the tourism committee, I wondered what exactly I should do with this thing. I turned to Cathy, she was my mentor after all, she would show me the ropes, just as Versace guy had said.

"Cathy, I've read the bill. What would you suggest I do first?" I didn't want it to be too obvious that I was clueless about what I was supposed to do on this job.

"Call the Board of Tourism and see what they think about the bill. That's where I would start. That will lead you to the next thing."

"Thanks." That didn't sound too hard. I could do this.

I made the call to the New Mexico Board of Tourism, asked them their stance on the bill and why. At the end of the call, I didn't think there was anyone else to check with. I figured that since it didn't lead me to a next thing, there wasn't a next thing. So, I wrote up a summary and some questions. I gave it to Cathy to look at. She looked exasperated.

"You need more information." She turned away and left the room.

From where? I thought desperately. On what? This was supposed to be a fun job, and it wasn't supposed to be this confusing. I tried again. The next day I had completed a new analysis. I felt I had covered all the bases -- I had talked to all the government agencies that were involved, gotten their questions and their concerns, and read the bill. I was sure this was as good an analysis as could be done.

But when I gave Cathy my analysis, she said, "We're moving you upstairs, and you'll have only the Commerce Committee." So much for her being my mentor, I thought miserably. Well, maybe it was for the best. After all, she didn't really give me the kind of help I needed. Truthfully, she had acted like I should know what I was supposed to do.

Post haste, I was moved upstairs. Joe Versace gave me a malicious look. "Pick up your stuff. I'll show you your desk."

I followed him from the big office, which was next to the Senate floor, up the elevator to the third floor. We entered a large room with four offices, two off of the back wall and one off of each side wall. There was a clump of nine desks in the middle.

"Eight senators share these four offices. Their secretaries sit out in front. You will have this desk."

My desk was pushed off to one side. One of the legs was missing its foot, so it leaned down a bit on the right side. The chair was missing an arm. I didn't have a phone or a computer.

"Joe, I'm going to need a phone and computer."

"I'll work on that. For now, you can share with Rick, he's an analyst in the room next door."

Joe walked toward the door. When he looked back, I could have sworn that he was gloating.

I walked next door. It was the same layout. Only in this room there were eleven desks. At one desk was a man with a goatee and at another was a girl, at least two or three years younger than me.

"Hi, I'm Jessica Clark."

"Hey, I'm Rick."

"Jane."

"Are you analysts?" I asked, hoping they would say yes.

"Yeah," Rick acknowledged. "I'm a teacher, but I do this every year or two to make some extra money. It is good for the school, and I get the opportunity to have a voice in education legislation."

"I'm an analyst too," Jane answered shyly. "I'm a senior at Georgetown University and since my major is politics, I get credit for doing this."

"That's great. I just finished law school, and I want to do something where I can make a difference. When this came up, I jumped at the chance.

"Um, I'm supposed to share a computer and a phone with you until they get me one."

"You don't have a phone?" Jane was incredulous.

"Or a computer?" Rick's eyebrows shot up. "Those are the necessary tools for this job. You can't do it without them."

I shrugged. "I was sitting next to Cathy, but they sent me up here today."

"Oh, she was feeling threatened, huh?" Rick winked.

"What?" I was so confused.

"If anyone does a good job, she complains about them to the Chief and says they can't do the work. Then, that person gets shuffled off to the third floor. They all love her downstairs. I've had to work with her before. She can't stand me, but she doesn't know anything about education legislation, so I'm pretty safe. You must have really gotten to her for her to ship you off on the second day!" He had a huge smile across his face.

Now I knew what was wrong, or at least I hoped Rick was right.

"Don't worry," he consoled, "overall this is a really great job. You are going to do great."

I smiled, feeling a little better. The third floor might actually be what I would consider a godsend. I may have been away from the "action," but these guys seemed fun and I thought we might be able to be friends.

Later, I got up the courage to ask both Jane and Rick for help on what I was supposed to be doing. Rick started laughing.

"Cathy is something else. She knows there isn't much to this. The capitol has about six full time legislative analysts who write up the bills and give a two-page summary with questions before the session even begins. All they want from us is to check how it may impact the state from other sources besides the legislative office here at the Round House. You do that by calling the agency that would be dealing with the bill if it were passed. Sometimes, constituents may be calling because the bill is hot. You can check around and see if that is true and put in some of the concerns from them. Basically, you start with the analysis that has already been written."

Well, that's helpful -- my job's redundant. Why would Cathy be acting like I was doing such an awful job if the analysis already existed? I was hoping to do something worthwhile, but suddenly, this didn't sound like I would be having much influence at all -- after all, the Commerce Committee had the least amount of bills. I wasn't going to get much practice or have much to be influential on.

Why, I wondered to myself, did Cathy need to be so important that she took her work on this job to such an extreme? Rick told me her analyses were basically the same as the ones put out by the legislative office, even though she made it clear on a daily basis that she did each analysis from scratch. What's that about? The only reason I could figure was so she could stay working until midnight and complain about the pressure from the work.

Article © Hillary E. Peak. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-05-21
Image(s) © Mike O'Sullivan. All rights reserved.
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