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The Pursuit of Happiness
by Melissa Rae Madison
Genre: Chick Lit
It was Friday, my sweet beautiful Friday, and until Ed called me to his office, I had been in a particularly good mood. The previous weekend after reading a self-help article in a magazine aimed at working women (hey, that's me!) I had written a list of positive affirmations meant to improve my attitude, which admittedly is generally pretty crappy: "I have a satisfying job that is perfect for me" and "I'm in control of my thoughts and emotions."
So far it seemed to be working, as I'd gotten through the week without a nervous breakdown (a significant victory, in my view). It had been a calm week at Morris, Cramton & Watson and I was lulled into a false sense of security. Friday had been one of those serendipitous days when everything went right. It was such a nice day that I even ate lunch in the break room with a couple of my co-workers instead of sitting in the plaza outside our building and soaking up the city air as I do most days, in an attempt to get stoned enough on exhaust fumes to make it through the afternoon.
Naturally Ed had to spoil it all by calling me to his office, no doubt with some nefarious scheme in mind. While Ed ignored me by pretending to read his email, I tried not to hyperventilate, and went back to my repeating my positive affirmations to myself. I dropped "I have a satisfying job...." because I was pretty sure that charade wasn't going to hold up for more than another ten or twenty seconds. Instead I went with "I'm in control of my thoughts and emotions...I'm in control of my thoughts and emotions...I'm-"
"Are you aware that the deadline for filing a motion to compel is today?" Ed asked, swinging around in his chair to face me across his cluttered desk.
My mind raced and I was no longer in control of my thoughts and emotions.
Motion to compel? What is he talking about? Did I screw up? What did I screw up? Oh my god I'm going to get fired and I don't even know what's going on.
"I don't know what you mean," I squeaked. I hated the sound of my own voice. I wanted to slap that weak, cowering girl whose voice trembled and whose eyes were already starting to water.
Ed's bushy eyebrows shot up in mock surprise.
"You don't know what I mean." This was a statement, not a question. "You are, of course, aware of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. You have, in fact, conducted discovery. I would assume that you know what a motion to compel is." He pushed a couple of stacks of paper around, managing to knock one over completely.
I tried to collect myself and go on the offensive, but it was a losing proposition.
" I meant, what case?"
"What case? The case with a motion due today," he said. Ed was perfectly calm and I felt like Alice at a tea party.
Is he insane? Of course he's insane. The question is, am I?
"There aren't any motions due today," I stated with as much conviction as I could muster, which was somewhat less than zero. I focused on the huge stain on his collar and tried to guess what it was. Ketchup? Strawberry jam? The blood of the last associate to sit in this chair? I shivered and wondered if he'd chosen maroon upholstery to hide blood stains.
"Incorrect. The Samson motion is due today and I haven't seen your draft," he said.
Now I was completely confused. Yes, we had been conducting discovery in the Samson case for quite some time. We had served the plaintiff with interrogatories and requests for production, which is a lawyer's fancy way of saying we asked some questions and asked them to give us some documents. Opposing counsel in the Samson case had been more forthcoming than lawyers usually are when responding to discovery, practically handing us the keys to Mr. Samson's office and inviting us in for a little look-see. Neither party disagreed on any of the relevant facts and Mr. Samson had very few documents relating to the case whatsoever. As far as discovery goes, this case had been a piece of cake.
"Yes, the Samson motion to compel is due today," Ed said patiently, as if he were talking to a very small child or perhaps some sort of barnyard animal.
"But..." I knew the minute I said it that I was digging my grave even deeper, but I couldn't seem to shut myself up. "They responded in full to our discovery. They gave us everything."
Again with the eyebrows. Someone needs to teach him how to perform some basic brow maintenance. The look might have worked for Albert Einstein, but it did nothing for Ed.
"And how do you know they gave us everything? Can you read the plaintiff's mind?"
The little spark left in me wanted to make some wisecrack about mind reading but all I could manage to sputter was, "Uh, no. I guess not."
"Correct," Ed barked. "I want that motion on my desk in one hour."
My stomach twisted and dropped. I turned blindly and bolted from the room before I could burst into tears. Being humiliated has a way of turning on my internal waterworks and there was no way I was going to give Ed the satisfaction of crying in front of him.