Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Waiting -- and then running like heck -- and then waiting some more

Have you ever noticed how, despite the fast pace of modern life, or perhaps because of it, we seem to spend an awful lot of our time... just waiting around?

"Hurry up and wait" is a concept that I originally heard, years ago, as something that applied particularly to the military. But it applies to the legal profession as well. If court starts at 9:00, it won't do to wander in at 9:30, whether you're number one on the call... or number 150. You'd be amazed at how fast a court call can progress when you're not there waiting. (Of course, you'll often be equally amazed, and dismayed, when you're stuck in court for an hour and a half waiting to be the second motion called. That will inevitably be the day that there are six emergency motions that jump in front of the regular schedule... or the day that the judge's car breaks down on the expressway on the way into the Daley Center... or maybe both.)

I started typing this post early this morning... waiting... waiting for the shredder to call.

When I moved to this Teeny Tiny Law Office I knew I had to thin the herd of stored stuff.

Lawyers generate insane amounts of paper, often for good reason -- though not always. But our former Undisclosed Location had a lot of shelf space and my office was big enough to hide a lot of boxes. I was crowded, especially when trying to squeeze through to my desk, but not overwhelmed.

But the Teeny Tiny Law Office is maybe one-half of our old digs, with virtually no storage space. My new office is about one-third the size of the old.

I had to get rid of stuff.

But you just can't throw out old legal files. Doing so may -- literally -- be a federal crime (I'm thinking HIPAA here, for one).

When I moved to the Undisclosed Location, early in 2006, I had to do something similar. I put 30 boxes of stuff (30 standard-size storage boxes, each measuring roughly 1.2ft³) into long-term storage in a warehouse designed just for this purpose.

Non-lawyers may perhaps have a hard time imagining whole buildings devoted to the long-term storage of old paper. In my book I will have at least one chapter wholly devoted to how I became one of the world's leading experts on the real and imagined value of lawyers' stored crap. For now, though, it suffices to say that I wasn't going to open up a warehouse account just for my 30 boxes; with his permission (and, indeed, at his suggestion) I used one of my colleague's accounts instead. I'd pay my pro-rata share of the monthly storage bill -- an amount probably insufficient to buy a mocha-choka-laka-grande-latte at your friendly neighborhood Starbucks.

But then my colleague died.

And the storage company -- which I would have gladly paid to continue storing my records -- refused to talk to me.

Their loss.

Anyway, when I sent out those 30 boxes of stuff, I pulled out an amount equal to or greater than that for shredding.

The shredding company comes to your office, takes the paper away, shreds it in the truck while parked at the curb, and moves on to the next lawyer's junk.

For this move, I was even more zealous in my purging. I have only 12 boxes of old files left -- Long Suffering Spouse and I continue to negotiate about where these will be stored at the family home -- and a huge pile of paper along one wall, waiting for the shredder.

When I set up the project last week, I'd been told the shredder was coming yesterday -- but I'd received a call yesterday suggesting that the visit might be postponed into next week.

The landlord has so far been understanding about my having stuff spread out between two offices (including furniture that couldn't fit in the Teeny Tiny Law Office) but I did not want to push my luck. I whined, therefore, and moaned and groveled and, eventually, after a number of calls back and forth, secured a promise that the shredder would come today.

Only no one could tell me when today that might be.

The nice young lady with whom I spoke at the end of the day yesterday suggested I call her first thing this morning and see how the driver's route was shaping up.

I did.

The nice young lady said she'd call the driver and call me right back.

She didn't.

After an hour or so of twiddling my thumbs, I called back.

Eventually, after a seemingly interminable wait, the nice lady's supervisor told me that the driver should be here within an hour, an hour and a half at most. I hung up the phone -- and the driver appeared.

I brought him down to the old office and proudly displayed my great wall of paper.

His face fell.

It seems I'd forgotten, in the six years since I'd used a shredder, that everything to be shredded needs to be boxed up first. I knew the price was calculated on a per-box basis -- but I didn't realize that boxes were literally required.

Some of the junk was in boxes anyway. He took those. He promised to come back for the rest. He even brought back the boxes he used.

But I would have to pack the stuff myself before his return.

I went from 0-60 in a flash. I got the job done in an hour, maybe an hour and a half.

And now, again, I'm waiting. Waiting for the shredder to return.

1 comment:

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

sounds like the shredder people have a pretty good business going there...

smiles, bee