January 5, 2018
Around New Years this year, I was thinking about good times past, as we all do that time of year. It may have been sparked by listening to Doobie Brother … all those Happy Hours filled with friends and laughter and a scorching headache the next day. So much changes. So many friends that stayed throughout the hard times and then there are those betrayals that you never saw coming. I’ve had my tough times. I grew up in poverty, suffered deaths of loved ones and a few near misses, had my personal challenges…and I could go on but not now. Not here. This is about those good memories — and a new years toast to those boys at a particular job I had …
I met Nick, Mike and Bob in 2001. My small tech-focused public relations firm had just suffered a fatal blow due to the Dotcom crash. If you didn’t have technology stocks or a tech business or worked in tech–then you may not know what that meant. For anyone in technology it was not only a financial disaster but a personal assault. Experts in the business with decades of experience and golden educations were out of jobs almost overnight. For a year I survived by selling the book I had written about international public relations while exhausting resources looking for partnerships for my firm. Every PR firm in California was trying to pair-up and save their company. Possibility after possibility failed to materialize and all the while I was burning through my savings account and multiple credit cards. Finally, I picked up the phone, got out the yellow pages (yeah–still yellow pages then; not everyone on the planet had websites), flipped to the attorneys section, because legal assistant was the only other experience I had before getting into tech two decades prior.
Within minutes I was talking to Nick, the managing attorney at a small firm in downtown San Jose. Although my legal assistant skills were mediocre, I didn’t tell him that – instead I said, I can type really really fast. He said, I need someone who can type really really fast part time. And so, I did. For two years.
That was the beginning of a long friendship with the boutique firm. I went to lunch with them, we told long stories in front of my desk, we stared out the fourth floor window all day on 9/11 in disbelieve and heartbreak. Over those years, we came to know the intimate details of each other’s lives, which were often analyzed at length during happy hour a couple of times a week. The running joke was that, if you didn’t join in for happy hour that night, you could expect to be the topic of conversation. Below is a sketch I did of the two partners back in 2002.
I won’t share their personal stories but the details about mine included the men in my life at the time–my multifarious son and a depressing ex-husband, my dating-life which included a man significantly younger, and a story about my short term roommate we referred to as handcuff boy.
Handcuff boy was really a middle-age man who claimed to design jewelry–bracelets he called them. I soon realized his bracelets were more along the lines of shackles–yes, solid 1″ steel chain-you-to-the-wall shackles (not D-rings for winches or sailboat riggings). Shackles. Okay, the guy had a hobby. He also claimed to collect antique handcuffs and showed me a few — but they didn’t look antique at all. The situation went from entertaining to creepy when I suspected he had been in my bedroom while I was at work one day. I noticed a butt-impression on my fluffy down comforter (I’ve always made my bed and of course, fluffed the bedding). The butt-impression was facing my drawers. Had he been sitting on my bed and looking through my drawers?
After extensive discussion with my male lawyer friends at work that day, whose simple concern had now turned to alarm, they now demanded that I get-him-the-hell-out-of-there. Although I was still not convinced the guy had anything more than an odd hobby, I was upset about the possibility he had been in my bedroom. So, I set up a trap. The next morning before leaving for work I fluffed the comforter so that it was extra poofy. Then I folded up a business card, exited my bedroom, pulled the door nearly closed and reached around to the inside of the door and placed the folded card about mid-way along the base of the door–as far as my arm could reach. If he entered the room, the card would be moved as he opened the door but he wouldn’t see it since the door would have been pushed open.
Confirmation came within hours. I walked back to my apartment at lunch after I knew he was gone. The card had moved all the way to the wall and another butt-impression screamed at me my from my now-tainted white down comforter. I got rid of the roommate that day but cocktail hour that night was rife with speculation among the boys about the possibilities of shackles in a pleasure-not-pain application and the jokes continued for months about handcuff-boy.
There was also the time the fire bell went off and we all had to be evacuated. In the gathering of building people waiting in the parking lot, the fireman told us that some fool had left something in a toaster oven on the 4th floor. Oh no. That was me and Mike and Nick passed me some shade but didn’t rat me out to the fire department. Or, the time I typed a Motion to Squash instead of a Motion to Quash (which, when you think about it, is really the same). The document made it into court. Luckily, the Judge knew Mike well and only teased him in court in front of all the other attorneys instead of throwing out the Motion.
Oh…the good times–and they often hinged around our shared fraternity over beers and scotch and a pizza slice. I’ve had a lot of work-related happy hours but this was the best two years of my working life because, in spite of my financial problems at the time and a few too many scotches after work, I loved my job and the people I worked with every day. Over the year we continued to share happy hours whenever we could, even after I moved out of Silicon Valley for good in 2014. Here’s to you guys!
Here is what I know now: Life is too short to hate your job. Either get a better new one – or do something else that feeds your passions.