In addition to meeting with my trainer J this morning, I also had a working lunch meeting with the principals at the law firm today. The workout cleared some cobwebs and made me feel smart, because while I am still not doing things with perfect form, I at least have the ability to learn perfect form. Eventually. With lots of practice, apparently. The lunch meeting was already on my calendar, but after yesterday’s disaster the agenda had to be altered.

While I was somewhat light-hearted about the confrontation yesterday with their octogenarian accountant, thinking about it and examining all that happened increased my distress. The more I thought about it, the more upset and angry I got. Not so much because of his antics, but I started second guessing myself about the partners and this job I am undertaking for them. I began to doubt my own instincts and judgment, and I was getting upset with myself for sitting there as long as I did trying to reason with a geriatric loon. Even thinking that term – geriatric loon – about a business contact makes me cringe. I wonder if I am some kind of crazy magent and worse, if I have made a terrible mistake.

We cleared the air this afternoon and took the problem down to brass tacks. They have a serious problem in a long-term employee who plays a key role in their organization. Taking steps to rectify the situation – hiring me – has agitated him. Firing him escalates the timetable for this changeover and immediately impacts my workload. I am not delighted with the situation or the adjustments, but I had a backup plan for something like this occurring. I just did not expect it so quickly.

To be fair, they were extraordinarily apologetic and took strong steps to respond to the situation. The accountant has been retired, effective yesterday. They changed the locks on the doors, deleted his access to the servers and any other sensitive or confidential information he retained. All the staff were given the day off with pay, and they met with him this morning and explained the terms of his separation. From what I was told he did not take it well … cautionary tale for the workaholics of the world who have nothing except a job as substitute for living a life. I feel extraordinarily sorry for him, yet I am hugely relieved. There is no way I could work with him without a constant and consistent presence policing him and buffering our interactions.

From a work perspective I have more of it. Yay me! From a cultural perspective of the firm, the jury is still out as to whether I would want to continue after this contract expires in January. Maybe I’m more of a judgmental asshole that I give myself credit for, but I think the behavior of this employee raises concerns about firm direction and leadership. They have given me everything I asked for, answered all my questions in as straightforward way as possible (although they are lawyers and therefore probably predisposed to deceptive behavior), and raised no further red flags or caused gut reactions that give me pause. A change of pace and cultural shift may be due, and if I can be part of what influences that tide of change, it will be good for me and better for the firm as a whole.

I feel better about the situation. And excited about the sudden influx of work and its challenges. (Yes, I recognize there is something inherently wrong with me.) On the other hand, I am self-employed, this is a contract, I will do a bang-up job, and M and I will still be paying our mortgage, keeping the fluffbuckets in kitty chow, the a/c running, and clean eating remains well within the realm of possibility.

Ducks are falling back into row formation without tears or bloodshed. I will call it a win.

Ducks in a Row

4 thoughts on “Duck wrangler musings

  1. The reality for the law firm was that they wanted to fire him and were prepared to fire him BUT only when they had a backup in place. And by hiring you they had a backup and could proceed. I suspect they were hugely relieved that this all happened up front and didn’t linger and so the project can have a clean start. As self-employed folks – all contracts are good. And give you an ability to try these guys out before committing to more! So good luck lining up the ducks. You may find it become more like herding cats over time though!

    1. Agreed! I have yoga tonight and will be getting another contract signed. This is just a small thing – a few hours a week for a local vet who is firing her prior service and hiring me instead. Herding cats is what I am good at, except my own, for whom I am primarily dispenser of food and treats, with the occasional lap to sit in when they are in the mood.

  2. Glad to hear they took charge and let him go. It sounds like they just needed to rip the bandaid off fast and get it over with, so you can get your work started and get them into the current century of accounting. It’s sad that someone with that long of employment couldn’t see for himself that it was was time to go (probably years ago) and bow out gracefully.

    1. It is a sad situation, one that I do not have to cope with. From conversations with them I have learned he never married, never had children, has no family left and very few friends. Really all he had was work.

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