Thursday, May 26, 2005

Such A Geek As I And Why I'm A Corporate Whore

I was talking to my family last night. You know the usual weekly phone call you make where you talk about small things going on in a big family like who's pregnant, who's fighting, etc.. I never vent to my family for some strange reason. I always keep in all of my frustrations and fears as if telling my mom and sisters will lessen the mystique that I've tried to build up (a mystique that is probably in my mind only).

Now it's no secret that I hate my job at times; well ... in fact, at most times. Don't get me wrong; I'm glad to have the income. I'm paid fairly well for doing what I do. The problem is that it just gets old .... fast. You get tired of people with attitudes because they've gotten their ass chewed and need to take it out on you. You get tired of assholes who've waited 'til the day they're due to appear in court to do their work and now expect you to shit out the perfect case for them. You get tired of the guy with the smallest plan giving you absolute hell because he needs to research something outside that plan that is going to cost like $200 for each search all the while squealing like a stuck pig "can't you just give me a sample ID so I can research it?" You get tired of being someone who volunteers to take on additional projects that keep you after work and busy on your own time while others simply do the bare minimum. You get tired of getting your dick slammed in the door with the smallest screw up because you were being pro-active at the time. But all in all, it's a fairly easy job that if I chose to skate by, I could do with no effort. BUT that isn't me. I don't just want to get by; I want to excel; I want to do things that matter; I want to be the best I can at whatever I do.

So I was venting all of this to my mom and sister this past week. BOTH of them surprised the living hell out of me when they said "Well, what is it you think you really want to do?" I sheepishly told them I think I would like being a teacher or a professor. Both pretty much said "Well, what is it you need to do to make that happen?" I was shocked. Not because I think they're not supportive. Mind you, I had been in school within one month of getting out of the Army (Jul 1996) to graduating law school (May 2003). I just thought they both might be of the mindset "Well, aren't you done with school yet?" Not at all. My mother was especially supportive. She was telling me that "if you're not happy, why are you doing this then?"

I didn't have the heart to tell my mom after my first semester of law school I sorta knew something was wrong. I just wasn't enjoying the subjects like I did in undergrad. I mean, I genuinely enjoyed most of my Sociology classes. I enjoyed discussing race and ethnicity and Marx and Durkheim and social movements and class warfare and so on. I enjoyed reading about ethnic groups struggling to integrate into mainstream society such as the Mexicans, the Chinese, the Italians, and the Irish. But reading about Contracts and Civil Procedure just didn't do it for me. After my first year of law school, I was completely despondent. I began to gather up applications from grad schools and started looking into GRE courses. But being my father's son (which means I am stubborn as all hell when I want to be), I decided to stick it out. For a short while, Intellectual Property (Copyright and Trademark) fired up my imagination. But it was always the lure of teaching that got me the most excited.

Perhaps its just that whole "grass is greener" thing. I always admired teachers, professors, or those that work with kids. They make a real difference in this world. They guide the future, bear a great burden, and yet politicians and parents shit all over them. You always remember your teachers, especially those that made a difference for you (Thanks Mr. Mardis, Mrs. Brooks, Mrs. Worrell, Coach Severson, Sister Francis, Mrs. Tabb, Mrs. Roberts, Pedro, Prof. Nelson, Prof. Torres, Prof. Gonzales ... each of you never let me get away with doing the bare minimum; you pushed me because you believed I could not only do the work but excel at it). They are truly building people and teaching them work ethics, trying to keep their minds sharp, and trying to get them to believe that all things are equal. Truly an admirable job. And thanks to Modigli for taking care of our most important future resources.

I simply work at a job where 90% of the people who call are looking for a way to circumvent the law so that their clients don't have to pay taxes or can make securities trades that are only a shade above immoral. I don't mold minds; I don't develop strong open minded people.
I contribute nothing to the future of this country; I assist law firms whose clients are looking for ways to raid their employee's pension funds without any repurcussions. Needless to say when I get the phone call for assistance from a public defender or legal aid, I'll bust my ass until we get something that will help their clients. After assisting some of those big law firms looking for ways for their clients to get around laws that you and I have to follow, I feel so dirty that no shower in the world could clean me. I once helped someone representing a pharmaceutical association who wanted help to find a statute that prevented people there from buying drugs from Canada and Mexico. Knowing that the majority of those buying from Canada or Mexico are elderly and or low income, I felt so fucking dirty ... like a piece of my soul and dignity had died. At that moment, I truly felt like a corporate whore.

Yet I digress. I was amazed that my family would still be so supportive after 7 straight years of school. Not one of them think that my considering going back to school is wrong; quite the opposite. They think if that is what it would take to make me happy, then that is what I should do. I can always go back and take a bar in the future anyways. And to top it all off, Pedro sent me a draft copy of his first book to review. The thought of a book .. hell, even a draft copy ... with my name across the front is just way too cool. Maybe the big Jefe upstairs is trying to tell me something.

So I was charged up by this conversation that the next night I looked up all the schools I'm interested in. Of course, I'll have to gear up for the GRE and start practicing. I worked at Kaplan for years, so I have an idea of what I'll need to do to gear up for the test. I'll have to write a statement of intent which I think might give a clue as to what I'd be interested in writing about. But they also want a writing sample. Now most of the papers I wrote in undergrad were written under the gun between studying for the LSAT and finals. I have a paper from law school which I can hopefully work into quite a jem. The next night, I ran over to Barnes & Noble, grabbed an iced almond latte from the Starbucks within, and started editing it. I printed off a bunch of related articles and started doing some additional research. And you know what .... I really enjoyed reading these obscure articles on such minute points of history, law, and the social movements around them. Reading articles that maybe 50 people or so have ever read; dusting off books that haven't been checked out in 10 years just to find a paragraph or line worth quoting. I loved it .... yeah .... I'm a huge geek.

Hi. I'm here to pick up your roommate for our date. Whatta ya mean
she locked herself in the bathroom and won't come out?


yournamehere said...

Unless you become self-employed or get into a public service field (which I consider teaching to be a part of) corporate whoredom is almost inevitable. I was an assistant manager at a retail store whose very existence made me sick to my stomach, but I had to wear their corporate logo and regurgitate their corporate lies and sell useless crap to people who could have bought the same thing for less at Target. And I didn't even make a lot of money. If you're gonna whore yourself out, at least find a john with some cash.

MoDigli said...

Great to know you have such a supportive family. What a nice relief to hear those words.

And, thanks for including me in there with the best of your teachers. Awwww....

I say go for it. If you want a little primer, then go sign up to be a sub somewhere for a little "getting your feet wet" activity! Most K-12 districts will accept anyone as a sub as long as they have some type of college degree. Doesn't matter which discipline. But I do seem to think you are interested in Higher Ed teaching. Different arena, there.

I say persue what makes you happy! Go for it. If you feel it, then you feel it for a reason, and there's a path to be taken if you choose it. What the hell, give it a try!

I know that if you're into doing K-12 there are many one year excelerated masters courses for getting certification. In one year you've got the coursework and student teaching experiences completed, then ready for your own classroom in the following fall!

PS. Any way to use the law degree in a way that would match your morals and ideals so you don't feel so dirty about it?

Cincysundevil said...

You're right in that you basically do become a whore for whomever you work for. It's not a win-win situation if you work for someone else.

Thanks for the words there! I've thought about working in a non-profit way in the law. THe problem with doing work for say Legal Aid or the Public Defender's office is that often you get very little notice. In fact, my old roommate is a PD; he often gets a file, meets his client and goes to court on the same day within a few hours. You dont' get to do the good job you know you're capable of.