We’ve all read or heard stories about hostile or toxic work environments. When you must spend the majority of your day, five days a week (or more) in the workplace I think it should be as pleasant as possible. No one I know wants to work. Well, some of the attorneys I work with might be an exception. They truly seem to love what they do.
I’ve been blessed to work in mostly good places throughout my career. Sure, I’ve griped about micro-managing supervisors, low pay or lack of benefits – who hasn’t? But overall? For almost 30 years I’ve worked in offices. Most of them were comfortable, some more than others. Some of my bosses were memorable.
There was Ruth, the first attorney I ever worked for – when I had no idea how to be a legal secretary. She was a great mentor! Later, there was Marty, a deputy attorney general who didn’t want the “newbie” secretary. But we clicked quite well. He used his contacts to get me help with my divorce. In that same office I worked for a man whose name escapes me. Probably because our personalities clashed like cymbals. Eventually I came to BigLaw where I felt completely out of my depth. I learn quickly though and almost 15 years later I’m one of the most senior secretaries (in terms of longevity anyway). I’ve worked with L the entire time and also with B for most of those years. Add in the two associate lawyers I support and I have a substantial, sometimes stressful workload.
BigLaw’s work environment is alright. (We won’t talk about their policies this time.) The office is light and pleasant. Sometimes the climate control gets wonky – or I suppose it could be the menopause kicking in. And the coffee’s free! I enjoy my job. I like the people I work with, and while I’ve had many opportunities over the years to change jobs, I’m still here and still mostly happy about it.
I like to think I contribute to the positive work environment. Some of you readers know a bit about my sense of humor. Well, one way I try to lighten the mood in the office is I post a cartoon on the fridge every day. To make the cut a cartoon has to either make me laugh out loud or cause me to go “Huh?” Think Gary Larson’s The Far Side. Or Sunny Street by Max Garcia. I shared these two recently. I double dog dare you not to smile!
Another way I’ve found to elevate office spirits is my toy collection. Yeah, I know I’m 56 years old, and yes I still have a toy collection. What’s your point? Attorneys I don’t even know have stopped at my desk on their way to somewhere else and played. Some attorneys have brought their children by to visit. It’s good clean fun for everyone! And warms my heart.
The collection has sort of evolved. Some of the items are branded with the firm name, others came in the gift bag Grammy gave me when she visited last summer before my surgery. The happy face mug originally held a floral arrangement I received as a thank you from a summer associate last year. If you look close you’ll see a souvenir bottle in the back with a very faint outline of the Space Needle. I got that on my first wedding anniversary when Hubs and I had dinner in the restaurant at the top. Watching people do double takes or slow down as they walk by to take it all in is the highlight of my day. So here you go – enjoy some virtual frivolity: