Friday rant

3 Sep

Today, I have been musing on the dynamics of working in an office full of women.  Women with pretty strong personalities.  A few of whom I love dearly, and a few of whom I would love nothing more than to never see again.  I guess you can count me among the ones with a strong personality, or at least strong opinions.  I’m musing on this particular topic because we have a new paralegal starting in my department on Tuesday.  I think she’ll be a great asset and we’ll get along, however it’s the other soul-sucking, negativity breeding people around here that I’m worried about. 

One of my favorite blogs, Paralegal Hell, has already done a post on the mind-boggling question of why some women choose to be complete bitches to one another and cannot mind their own frickin’ business.   Are people just THAT bitter and insecure that they have to stick their nose in everyone else’s business and then talk about it behind their backs?  But I digress.  That’s a question obviously answered with “Hell, yes”, but the reasons why will probably never be answered.  I guess some people are just soul-suckers by nature.  And, I have digressed again.

A few years ago, the only other paralegal who had been here longer than me moved away.  That left me as the unofficial “senior paralegal” in my department since I have endured longer than anyone else.  Not to brag, but the attorneys also see me as entirely competent and trust me.  (Not that it should be something to brag about, since it should be something the position REQUIRES, however these guys are control freaks who don’t trust much of anyone.  So yeah, it’s a bragging point.) That has left me in the position to train and mentor all paralegals who have arrived since.   

There is one paralegal in particular, who is older than me, has been a paralegal longer than me, but did not have nearly as much experience in medical malpractice as I have.  She was also a recent convert from “the dark side” a/k/a Plaintiff personal injury.  Training wasn’t difficult, but it’s been the ‘ever since’ that has been a treat.  This particular soul-sucker has some raging inferiority complex, or other nonsense.  She seems to think that just because she is a paralegal means that she is better than any of the legal assistants, can ask them to do the most simple and mundane tasks that even an attorney would just do themselves, and delights in sticking her beak in whenever she can get it.  She’s famous for interjecting herself in others offices and talk, talk, talk about the same things (or people) over and over, until you want to ram a pencil in your eye.  “Pardon me, I would love to listen to you pontificate on how you do a particular task that I, myself, trained you to do, but I must be going as I would rather sacrifice my eyesight and sit in the ER for hours on end than listen to you blather on”.

I am so SO lucky that she has somehow finally gotten the idea that I do not care for her (because she doesn’t take hints AT ALL) and steers clear of me most days.  (I am also the envy of the office for this reason.)

Which brings me back around to the fact that we have a new co-worker starting Tuesday.  I like to remain neutral when someone starts and let them draw their own conclusions about our fellow staff members.  But I’m afraid this particular person will suck our newbie in with her cleverly disguised “friendliness” and then spew her negativity all over this poor person.   So, you say as the “senior paralegal”, I should be able to put this person in her place?  I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that around here.  Even though I have been here longer than anyone else, and the attorneys look to me to mentor these paralegals, we all have the same job duties and she does not answer to me in any way.  She also has very grand ideas that somehow she is the end all, be all around here. 

Now I do not automatically think I am better than anyone else, or I’m the queen bee.  But it is infuriating the way she will interject herself with any new paralegals that come along.  So while I would like to let this new paralegal draw her own conclusions about the people around here, I am wondering how I should handle the issue with this particular paralegal.  I know that she will be in the newbie’s office as much as she possibly can, nosing around about what the newbie is working on and interjecting her own “lessons”, and even possibly putting work off onto this new person if she can.   Yes, it’s all happened before.   I don’t want to explicitly “warn” the newbie, but I do want to let her know that she doesn’t need to listen to this person and to be prepared to kick her out of her office.   

It’s like working in a frickin’ daycare center sometimes.  But without the crayons and nap time.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  “Sorry, I can’t rehash the details of this case, which are in multiple memos, so that you don’t have to actually prepare for your depo tomorrow on your own.  It’s my nap time.  Would you hand me my blankie & close the door? ”   

Now I’m off to thank God it’s Friday and decide whether today’s lunch will require alcohol to get through the remainder of the day.  I’m thinking “YES”.  And if you made it this far, you probably could use some, too.

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3 Responses to “Friday rant”

  1. Cher September 3, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    And that is why I’m SO glad that I work with a bunch of MEN. I’ve always gotten along with men better because there is less of the catty BS to deal with.

    To answer your question, I think you owe it to this newbie to tell her the truth. I’ve been on both sides of this equation. When I have been new, I loved when someone gave me the lowdown, so it would save me time figuring out who to avoid and who to talk to. I’ve also been the one training, and I always gave that new person the general gist of the personalities that they would be coming into contact with. They always came back and thanked me for that because they discovered my words were not a personal opinion but a non-biased truth.

    Also, clueing her in about this one person in particular will probably save a lot of uncomfortableness and awkwardness for the newbie. Think about your first days somewhere. If someone came in and started giving you stuff, you wouldn’t know better, so you’d take it. Then you’d find out later that that person wasn’t your boss, and that they shouldn’t have unloaded those tasks on you, but now you’re already doing them. Uncomfortable! Let her make her mind up about those that won’t manipulate or use her; shield her from those that will.

    And yes, working with people feels like working in a daycare much too often – especially in the corporate environment. Go read my little Carnegie quote on Facebook under my picture. It pretty much sums it up.

    Just for the record, I vote for naptime AND crayons!!!

  2. TxParalegal September 10, 2010 at 3:12 pm #

    General warning, yes. Name-names, no. I’ve had my own little adventures with the self-important and you never really know who is going to click. If you name Ms. Noseypants outright and she and NewParalegal become friends, well then you’ve gotten yourself right down in the center of the drama. From what I can gather from your posts, you’re pretty drama free. I would offer a general “we have all kinds of personalities here, so if you have any concerns about workload or processes I’m available to listen.” If she’s any good, she’ll pick up on how the attorneys treat you and come to you first. Hopefully 🙂 I vote for pacifiers 🙂

    • mom2tomtom September 15, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

      Oh yes, pacifiers all around! Preferably laced in Xanax! Ha! Thanks for the drama free comment, I take that as a great compliment! I strive, but do not always achieve, drama free. I did tell the New Paralegal that Noseypants just has a tendency to talk alot. Because that’s what I would want to know if I was new. I didn’t get into any other stuff, because that’s just stirring up a whole pile of shit nobody wants, and I have a feeling that Ms. Newbie is a sharp cookie and will pick up on the *stellar* personalities around here soon enough!

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