Apparently, not even time and space can prevent me from causing inadvertent mishaps, as evidenced by the e-mail I received last night from Phil Donohue. He’s a partner at Schwartz Meisner, the New Jersey law firm where I toiled before moving to Georgia. He’s also a good friend of mine. Except last night’s communiqué was not a social call.
Phil’s real name is actually Bill, but he’s affectionately nicknamed for the ’80s talk show host. As he testily informed me, some unknown practical joker had gotten hold of one of my old mock documents and employed it against Phil in a most effective, though probably unanticipated, fashion. Way back when, I’d created a joke cover page — ostensibly to accompany memos from partners reassigning a departing attorney’s files to other associates. I’d always thought my creation fit quite nicely with the actual interpretation applied to such reassignment memos by their recipients: “Congratulations on the doubling of your already-staggering workload; you can thank the traitorous asswipe who’s just abandoned ship for your bounty of good fortune!”
Truth be told, I’m surprised any practical jokers remain at Schwartz Meisner. I’d assumed political correctness had weeded them all out, me included. Yet Phil’s e-mail made clear that some relic of a bygone age had “punked” him, sneaking a copy of my mock cover page into the stack of file reassignment memos on his secretary’s desk. Had Phil taken the time to review his secretary’s work product before okaying transmission to each recipient associate, the prank would’ve ended there, rather harmlessly. However, trusting his secretary’s skills (and being busy with other matters), he allowed her to send out the reassignment memos without even a cursory eyeball.
Controversy still might have been averted if one of the recipient associates hadn’t lacked the barest vestige of a funny bone. Alas, said stick-in-the-mud didn’t appreciate the unusual cover sheet which accompanied the memo informing him of the five new cases he’d inherited. He brought the issue to the attention of one of the firm’s senior partners, Alan Schwartz, who promptly made sure that the proverbial “shit hit the fan.”
I can’t say I’m surprised. But I am disappointed … in the sad sack who seemingly can’t take a joke. Even if I was already drowning in work and received a memo doubling my caseload, I know I’d laugh if the cover page accompanying the file reassignment notification looked like this: