Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Office Vents

I almost blew up at a colleague at work this evening. Not fair, I know; I was just being a little -- okay, a lot -- grumpy. But several issues started taking their toll on me.

What happened tonight? I had taken pretty much four whole days to finish a particular motion. It was due today and really, I just wanted it done and out of my hair. I knew there were likely some mistakes in it, but by this point (it was getting close to 9 pm) I really just wanted it done.

Besides, we had both spent all day on this project on administrative shit. Basically we had to manually reformat a large document to attach as an exhibit. It went much faster for me than for her, for some reason -- part of my frustration with this office is some of my administrative staff simply isn't as good at secretarial stuff as I am. It had taken her all day to get her part of this document finished. I guess a part of it was also that I had kinda wanted to bail early from work to meet some people, and that was basically tossed out the window because this damn proejct was taking so long (and it shouldn't have).

As the requisite copies were coming off the copier, my colleague started reading through the document. Usually this is a good thing, but like I said, I was in a bad mood for some reason I don't know. "Oops, a typo," she says. "It says 'Plaintiff has no received no consideration.'" Of course, she's right. And there's no way I could just let that go. Thankfully the document was thick enough that I wasn't stapling them anyway, and the change was small enough that I just had to substitute that one page.

Then she started nitpicking more substantive stuff, and for some reason this just got to me. "You say here that the documentation goes back to April, but don't we have stuff dating back to February?" she asks.

"I don't think so," I tell her, but a part of me just doesn't care anymore. The combination of her question and my own perfectionism started to frustrate me. I checked the documentation, and it turns out we had paperwork starting in March, not February or April.

"Well then, shouldn't it say March?" she suggested. She's a little passive aggressive sometimes; she'll phrase things in the form of questions like "wouldn't it be better if...?" and "but don't you think we should...?" to suggest her way, and if you say no, you feel the need to justify it and she'll still give you a look that screams, "I'm worried about not doing it the way I suggest...."

"It doesn't make a huge difference if it says March or April," I told her. "The point is the same; 'several months' is 'several months' whether it begins in March or April."

"But it could be seen as misleading," she goes on.

"How is that materially misleading?" I'm ready to scream at her, but I don't; I just ask the question in a clearly annoyed way.

"Maybe not materially, but still, it's not 100% accurate. Do you really want this judge to sieze on that?"

"The point of that paragraph is that there's several months covered there. Which specific months are irrelevant. Can you really see the judge saying to himself, 'You were wrong by a matter of one month in "several months," so I'm going to deny you the relief you want'?"

I didn't actually say that last paragraph, though I thought it. Instead I made the change to accurately reflect the paperwork we had (even though it was immaterial), and did the page swap again. I had to make certain that the change I made didn't impact on the pagination of the 40-page document.

She could tell I was annoyed, and I genuinely felt bad for that. She apologized: "Don't be mad. Sorry. Okay, I'll stop reading now." Technically this is a bad idea, since, of course, I'd rather have the mistakes corrected than not, but I really just wanted to go home. So I let her stop reading.

Eventually, everything got assembled and was sent off to the courthouse, and I peeled off and went home.

I'm gonna have to apologize to her tomorrow. I do feel bad for snapping.


Rich said...

Been there, done that--and had it happen to me. Just part of work life.

Washington Cube said...

It is a part of work life. This just hit you at the wrong moment on the wrong day.