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By: Jamie Collins

As most of you know, I recently left my day gig for a new one at a start-up firm with the boss I’ve worked alongside for the past 7 years at my past firm. I decided it would probably be a semi-brilliant idea to keep a running journal of my first week eclipsing the outer rung of the start-up venture. This running journal of week one would help to: (1) serve as a status update for my fabulous readers; (2) amuse me when I look back on it some day; and (3) keep my personal sanity intact, at least what’s left of it. Having spent the last 18 years slinging papyrus in the legal trenches, one tends to lose her mind ever so slightly.

Yes, these are my candid thoughts. (Yes, the boss approved them for posting.) No, I didn’t really hold anything back. Keep reading!

DAY ONE: I survived. Heck, actually, I thrived…all things considered. I made it into the parking garage (and later back out again, under the cover of dark) without being accosted. Always a tremendous plus in one’s day. #winning

Found the building. Found the boss. Hot damn, I’m off to a raging start.

Until the phones suddenly came to life, sending me and my fellow coworker into an immediate dash of clueless panic, clearly brought on by a sudden round of ring-ring-ringing. It was as though we’d never answered a phone a day in our friggin’ lives. Something about the newness of every tidbit of contact information tends to jolt one’s soul into a state of common-sense-comatose, even with the simplest of tasks. (Remember the firm name….remember the firm name…don’t say the wrong name….not the old firm name.) It turns out our fellow inhabitants – attorneys in our space, but separate from us – are some pretty great people.

Spent most of the day unpacking my boxes. Takes longer than you’d think to find a permanent (strike that – logical and permanent – major emphasis on “logical”) home for each item. Also makes me realize the producer from Hoarders should have undoubtedly paid my previous office a visit prior to the commencement of Operation Legal Apocalypse. I still have other people’s stuff (Read: cabinets and files) in my office, but at this point, I’m just happy to have 2/3 of an office, a great view of the city, a large borrowed desk, phones I must WILL myself to answer, with an array of delicious lunch spots within walking distance nearby. Oh – and the small bathrooms in our small space actually lend themselves to far more privacy than initially surmised, as when you flip the light on, a vent fan kicks on about as loud as the vent pipe on grandma’s old Buick, in subzero weather conditions, sans muffler, to give one the illusion of space and time (or duck and cover). Paralegal? What paralegal??? I haven’t seen a paralegal. Did I mention there are two of these covert hideout rooms readily available for those attempting to flee hellish assignments or esquires? Yes, indeedy. The coworker and I have deemed this an added bonus. I’m not sure what the other people use them for…

The dream team?

Nicest phones I’ve ever had?

Best space of my career?

Brand spankin’ new computers?

The ability to work or print?
Well, we’ll consider that to be a work in (dear lawd help us) progress. We’ll get there.

DAY TWO: It has come to my attention that I may NOT have the appropriate cold weather gear necessary to survive a brisk (Read: realllllllly freaking cold) walk to the legal kingdom through the polar streets of Indianapolis. My morning hustle to gain entry to warmth and a day of legal challenge has changed drastically. It went from a method somewhat similar to walking into a Village Pantry (low-key, easy breezy) into an epic journey, a whole lot more like entering the stadium at a sold out ball park at 9:00 a.m., in rush hour traffic, with one-way streets galore, and non-Alaskan-temp-suitable-weather-gear, while attempting to evade the transformation into a paralegal popsicle. Brrrr. Note has been duly made to secure a triple down parka, wool-less wooly mittens, and some Timberlands. Now I understand why people carry bags containing high heels. Duly noted.

Entered my office. Unpacked my last box. Morning was off to a great start, until the phone began ringing 32 thousand times in a row, much like a call center in India – law firm edition. WTH. Please help me to remember the firm’s name, and to learn/actually remember all pertinent contact information, to the point it doesn’t immediately exit my brain, much like a paralegal bound for an all-inclusive shopping trip at the very moment I need to recall it.  Ring. Ring. Ring. (Where the hell am I?) (Stare down at the new business card before you speak.) Seriously thought I was going to lose my mind. Did I mention that I have to walk down the hall in order to (attempt to) answer the phones? Ring, ring.  I tell no lies. Seriously began to ponder my sanity…to mark the moment the last sliver of it would depart. Began to wonder if I was on a start-up version of that television show “Punk’d.” Ashton never showed up. Was told the phone guys were just testing the line. Um, thanks for the exercise. You must have read my Haagan-Dazs post. Good one, fellas.

Managed to mail out a letter today. Even sent a fax and checked my email. We’re off to the races, folks. Kinda like a snail on speed.

DAY THREE: It’s official – not only do I miss my best (paralegal) friend, but I mourn the loss of incredibly delicious iced coffee from McDonald’s that I used to pick up on my way into work on days of my choosing. The new route leaves a little something to be desired. But I must admit there is a coffee shop conveniently located on the first floor of my building. May have to give it a whirl, while fully admitting I’m just a wee bit finicky with the whole iced coffee thing, as I drink only iced coffee and only when it comes from McDonald’s. As for the first floor coffee shop, I shall report back my incredibly important findings in this regard.

If you want to know which way the future is headed, take a gander at Windows 8, people. WTH? No, seriously, what the hell. I’m pretty sure I don’t need an e-bay, nor an Amazon app on the home page of my work computer. I just want to find the normal things I need to actually do my job.  Clearly, the thought is to make our work computers look a whole lot more like personal iPads with eighty thousand apps. Not a big fan. If I need e-bay, I’m pretty sure I know where to find it.

You know what I love most about a start-up with a non-micromanaging boss? The ability to create things: letterhead, labels, fax cover pages – you name it. I’m all in. (Me + the coworker + all of this creative stuff = fun!) You get ready to send a letter… and realize you’ll need letterhead for that. Go to mail an envelope….and realize you’ll need labels for that (not to mention postage). Go to fetch anything out of the supply drawer…and realize there isn’t one. You get to order it! (For those of you who’ve read my prior posts regarding office supplies, I gotta tell you I really don’t mind it a bit. I get to order supplies we actually need/want/will use, rather than a crapton of useless items, like dinner napkins, that no one ever asked for in the first place.) Some peeps may not be into this, but I’m starting to have flashbacks of my second job that was heavily entrenched in admin/creative/office management. It all comes back full-circle and I gotta say, as the fearless founder (who learned branding and a whole bunch of other business-like things on the fly), I dig it. While it may seem we accomplished pitifully little by way of churning legal papers today, we did get a lot of small, significant things done. I think….strike that – ahem, I know…the coworker and I earned a margarita today. (Make that a full pitcher, 2 glasses, on the rocks, with salt, please.) Still awaiting its delivery. Apparently, a margarita delivery boy doesn’t come standard with a start-up. I’m working on it.

Officially secured my parking pass. Go ahead and sign me up as a permanent downtown resident, people. (You can cancel the return ticket.) It. Is. On.

DAY FOUR:  In the words of Ice Cube, “Today was a good day.”

Who knew when you move out to a swanky new start-up, you get new and improved everything?! Yes, everything. Woot, woot. New executive chair, new office/desk supplies, new forms and systems, new workmates (not including the esquire). My soul is giddy. You sometimes don’t realize how hung up in a routine you get, until you no longer are. While the drive continues to annoy me – need one of those beam me up, teleporter things they had on Star Trek – I’ve made peace with most other aspects of my new work life. No, I still have not tried the iced coffee downstairs. The iced tea is to-die-for. Yes, I still hate walking in the bitter cold. The boss and I are living the dream, pretty much literally.

The Death Star (Read: surface of the ridiculously hot scalding sun) nearly bakes me each day through the double-window-blinds of my office, even with them pulled tightly shut. Yes, I wanted the windows. (Deeply, truly wanted them. Thank you, boss.) Yes, I love the view…for precisely the 15 minutes each day, in the early morning, when the sun isn’t attempting to blind/scorch me with its rays of hot death. No, I had no idea an office window facing south would be like this. (No, I’m not giving the window back. Yes, I still love it.) Just don’t ask any questions if you see me sporting BluBlockers in the office.

On my current list of issues is loneliness at lunch or the lack of a break, due to frigid temperatures and boredom. So I decided why not try to fix that – tomorrow, I have a lunch date planned with Lottie Dottie. (No pressure, Lottie, but all sense of new social normalcy is riding on this event.) In the event of failure, please promptly lead the fearless founder, by the hand, to no-bakes at the cookie stand. Just kidding. I’m still riding out the strep diet for all its worth, people. As for the social entertainment, do bring it.

(This is an update.) As it turns out, my lunch plans were actually cancelled.  Lottie’s dog decided to run away. This really put a hitch in my anti-depression-attempt-at-a-social-life-lunch-plan-giddy-up. I shall try again at a later date, notwithstanding natural disasters, acts of God or run-away dogs.

With regard to the business side of things, I feel happy. Vibrant. Alive. Although my current work pace at this point is about as efficient as a tortoise’s. Yep, slow but happy. I’ll take it – that, and one of those teleporter thingies, a paper shredder, and a large iced coffee from McDonald’s.

DAY FIVE:  I am up to my elbows in notices of change of address and letters. The part of a firm move every paralegal dreads. Loathes. Cringes at the mention of. It is upon us. I must perpetually remind myself that this too shall pass. Just 3,000 more letters and I’ll hit the paralegal promise land, my friends. Hopefully, sooner as opposed to later. I feel like I’m slinging paper in the legal warehouse at the present time.

How do you find your way directly to a paralegal’s heart? An unlimited supply of iced tea, fruit & nut granola bars, and Goldfish crackers. Yep, it’s official. (Esquires: take note of that.) I am living the non-alcoholic beverage/snacking dream. 

I managed to hang pictures in my office. I made it on time to pick up Mister G all week long. As far as new work lives go – it’s a keeper. Besides, I’m never moving again.  These are the last notices of change of address I will EVER type. (Let’s all pretend…)

That officially concludes this round of the fearless founder’s “start-up” diary.  The good. The bad. The refreshingly honest. It’s all in there. More to follow in the future, given the fearless founder’s lack of a social life during the blessed lunch hour and far too many one-way streets.

Cue the pomp and circumstance. And thanks for reading.


Have you ever been a part of a start-up?  Can you relate to my running journal entries?  What did you love or hate about it?  I’m totally listening…