Exposing My Breasts in a Law Office

I read this story about a professor whose breastfeeding was made into an issue because people are ignorant and have too much time on their hands. See it here. It made me think of my own situation where my own breastfeeding became an issue for the same reason. Her points were so valid, I felt a kinship with her expressions of frustration that anyone actually thought her public breastfeeding was worth turning into an issue. And actually, the breastfeeding that became an issue for me wasn’t even in public, it was in the privacy of my own office.

I used to share my attorney practice with a small firm, but basically ran my own practice my own way, which included nursing my daughter during the day during my breaks. I was in a satellite location and worked in that space alone. A couple of years ago, I was in my office breastfeeding one afternoon between clients. After she finished, I handed my daughter to her dad, who took his parenting time with her while I worked. I entered my waiting room to discover that the potential client who had been waiting there had left. I called him and he told me he didn’t want anything to do with my “kind of outfit.” I made some joke to my baby’s father, saying that my clothes must have been too nice for the guy, then promptly forgot about it. I didn’t actually know it was because I had been breastfeeding because I had been in my office with the door shut and he could not see what we were doing. It wasn’t until a situation arose later that I finally got what made the man leave.

Two years later, two YEARS! while having a dispute with the firm over something completely unrelated, one of the old partners of the firm out of the blue and in a completely non-sequitur response to what I had just said blurted, “Well, you lost a potential client because you BREASTFED in front of him. He ended up hiring your old firm.” He spit the words at me. I was in such shock at this for so many reasons, I was momentarily speechless. Then the rage took over. WHY was this relevant? WHO the hell was he to bring it up? Why NOW? It wasn’t even true! I did not keep my cool. I angrily explained that this had not been what happened and told him that his even bringing it up gave me an idea of the sort of person that he was. “Seriously?” I said to him, practically yelling. “Are you actually bringing this up as evidence of my lack of work ethic? First of all, I bust my ASS, working full time AND I’m a single mother! And secondly, I did NOT breastfeed in front of a potential client, not that I would object to doing so OR that it’s any of your business.” He tried to backpedal and tell me that he was only “Letting me know what people were saying,” because theoretically my old boss had shared this story with him. Later he recanted this assertion. He couldn’t even own what he said, but no matter. I was ready to part ways at this point anyway; this situation was just one of many that made this clear for me.

Like the author of the article, I’ve breastfeed my youngest daughter everywhere, on two continents, in half a dozen countries. I’ve never once had anyone say anything negative to me about it. I did the same with my oldest until she was four and a half years old. Never a peep, and here was this old jackass using it to create conflict because he had no reasonable arguments in our disagreement. I completely lost any shred of respect I had for the guy at that point. I had never really liked him. He seemed to spend all his time worrying about all the work others were doing and never doing any himself. In the three years I worked with him, I never once saw him actually working. I saw him loitering in the lobby. I saw him playing with plastic toys. I saw him complaining about money. Never once did I see him at his desk, doing his job. Our conflict was over him wanting me to work more than I already did. Apparently my taking time to breastfeed my daughter interfered with that, at least that was the only point I could derive from his saying what he did.

Unlike the author, I have been more outspoken about women’s right to breastfeed. I wrote a law review article on it in law school (see that here). I have long felt that efforts to marginalize breastfeeding are anti-woman and anti-child. Ultimately, though the author is not an activist in her choice, I share with her the view that feeding our children as they were meant to be fed is a basic right of our biology, and should receive no more notice than menstruating, or growing hair, or doing anything else fundamentally human and female.

I’m still breastfeeding. It’s great for my daughter’s health and immune system. It provides comfort and nourishment. As an infant it was available on demand, with no effort other than pulling up my shirt. It’s free. It makes her very happy. That’s good enough for both of us.

Pointless Rambling

I had the weirdest dream last night. A woman I know who is my counselor, friend, confidant came over to me to give me a hug, and as she did, I felt something poking me in the groin. I looked down to see that she had a penis. Fully erect, it was prodding me. “Oops,” she said. “He’s a little excited.” This was her response to my discovery that she was a man. I stared at her, incredulous, searching her face for some masculinity, for something I had missed in all the times I had sat with her, poring over my life. Her visage had not changed. She was exactly the same, but then, she wasn’t. She was not the same. I could not wrap my brain around this. She is a man? I also felt betrayed that she had not told me. She had shared with me other aspects of her life that were as intimate, why not this?

I wakened from the dream slowly, existing in that place you do sometimes right on the edge of sleep, meandering between consciousness and unconsciousness. The dream stayed with me all day. I rose and performed the usual morning mundanity, then headed into work where it felt like many others I had to deal with were experiencing inner turmoil or something and wanted to hook me in. I just couldn’t get interested in the drama. I had a hard time focusing on work. I wanted to lie around reading a book. I slogged through the spate of emails, finished up some files, poked around, took a trip to the post office, finished up a few other things, and finally gave up and came home. Now I’m writing this. Not sure why. Not sure to whom. WordPress was open when I turned on my computer so I started typing and this was the result. How profound.

Rick Santelli is an Idiot…Still

I posted this a while back.  See it here.  I was responding to this moron the first time he opened his idiot face and let venom spew.   Of course, since he’s still slithering around out there, the post continues to garner hits, over two years later.  I reread what I wrote, and I can’t really improve on it.  All I said is still true.  So I’m posting it again.

Rick Santelli is an Idiot

I can’t believe this guy.  I heard him spouting off about how Americans shouldn’t pay for their neighbor to have one more bathroom.  I wanted to reach into the screen and slap his ugly head.  What an idiot.

Here’s a clue, Mr. Smarty Pants:  People who are in foreclosure are in foreclosure because the system is a mess, not because they are “deadbeats” and want a free ride from the government or their neighbors.  Want to point fingers, idiot?  Point them at the banks that overvalued properties in the first place to get people into questionable loans so brokers could collect bigger fees.  Point those fingers at the lenders for telling consumers that their ARM loan wouldn’t be a problem because they would be able to refinance in three years when the rates change (and hey, rates have been going down forever, so  why shouldn’t this continue? Your payment will be lower!) while simultaneously neglecting to point out there would be no way in hell any traditional lender would refinance property that is mortgaged for more than it is worth.  And oh, be sure to keep it a secret from the borrower that refinancing will not be an option if you lose your job.  How about pointing the fingers at lenders who convinced people to take out that second mortgage or a HELOC to “consolidate their debt” without pointing out that trading unsecured debt for secured debt would make bankruptcy pointless should the need arise?  How about pointing fingers at the pathetic and useless Bush administration who drove us into an economic crisis and higher unemployment than we have seen in decades?  Let’s just blame the victim for losing their job.  They should have known to move to China or India ten years ago so they would be there when their jobs were shipped overseas.

I heard the jerk in an interview claim that buyers should have hired lawyers.  Guess what?  Lawyers aren’t free.  And assuming someone could afford $225 an hour to hire one, a lawyer wouldn’t hire an appraiser to know that the bank overvalued the property.  Plus hiring an attorney when you buy a house is theoretically unnecessary anyway.  Mortgage brokers and lenders have a fiduciary duty of care to their clients.  This means they are held to a higher standard of care in dealing with the public.  They are expected to act EXTRA honest because it is expected that they have greater knowledge about the mortgage industry than consumers.  How does this work, Mr. Santelli?  Are the consumers supposed to suddenly educate themselves so they can catch dishonest bankers and brokers?  Would you hold a patient to the same duty before going to a doctor?  Am I supposed to go get an MBA before I go to a financial expert to ensure they are upholding their fiduciary duty?  Should I get an MD before going to the doctor?

I can’t stand the mentality that we are not obligated to help one another.  Guess what?  We are all in this together.  We can sit in our foreclosed bunkers with our guns aimed at our neighbors and barbed wire wrapped around our hearts to protect us from the enemy, ensuring we keep that property because, hell, it belongs to us, right?  We don’t need to share.  Or we can grow up and realize that society at its heart means social.  It means taking responsibility for one another.  It means what we do for each other we do for ourselves. It means we care for and protect one another and when someone is down, we offer them a hand up.  Taking care of one another is the stuff life is made of.  The alternate choice is to live like Rick Santelli, cold and alone with his gun pointed at everyone, dragging his loot into the afterlife.  Good luck with that, Buddy.

P.S. Being a stock-broker might be a high risk financially, but it is not hard work.

Attitude Adjustment Bureau

I have got to do something to my brain so that instead of finding my job annoying, I re-appreciate the things about it that are so much more worthwhile than they could be. Probably a vacation would help. I haven’t taken one since I started a year and a half ago. I really want to go to Spain. Or France. Hell, right now I would love to head to Japan and help with cleanup efforts. Anything but the same old complaints from clients all the time all the time all the time. Gads, here I am wishing I could have a better attitude mainly because I’m wishing my clients had a better attitude. Not all of them, mind you. But the ones who drive me nuts obliterate the other 95%.

That said, I have several who are sweet, kind, and wonderful. One couple even baked me cinnamon rolls. That was good.

Rick Santelli is an Idiot

I can’t believe this guy.  I heard him spouting off here about how Americans shouldn’t pay for their neighbor to have one more bathroom.  I wanted to reach into the screen and slap his ugly head.  What an idiot.

Here’s a clue, Mr. Smarty Pants:  People who are in foreclosure are in foreclosure because the system is a mess, not because they are “deadbeats” and want a free ride from the government or their neighbors.  Want to point fingers, idiot?  Point them at the banks that overvalued properties in the first place to get people into questionable loans so brokers could collect bigger fees.  Point those fingers at the lenders for telling consumers that their ARM loan wouldn’t be a problem because they would be able to refinance in three years when the rates change (and hey, rates have been going down forever, so  why shouldn’t this continue? Your payment will be lower!) while simultaneously neglecting to point out there would be no way in hell any traditional lender would refinance property that is mortgaged for more than it is worth.  And oh, be sure to keep it a secret from the borrower that refinancing will not be an option if you lose your job.  How about pointing the fingers at lenders who convinced people to take out that second mortgage or a HELOC to “consolidate their debt” without pointing out that trading unsecured debt for secured debt would make bankruptcy pointless should the need arise?  How about pointing fingers at the pathetic and useless Bush administration who drove us into an economic crisis and higher unemployment than we have seen in decades?  Let’s just blame the victim for losing their job.  They should have known to move to China or India ten years ago so they would be there when there jobs were shipped overseas.

I heard the jerk in an interview claim that buyers should have hired lawyers.  Guess what?  Lawyers aren’t free.  And assuming someone could afford $225 an hour to hire one, a lawyer wouldn’t hire an appraiser to know that the bank overvalued the property.  Plus hiring an attorney when you buy a house is theoretically unnecessary anyway.  Mortgage brokers and lenders have a fiduciary duty of care to their clients.  This means they are held to a higher standard of care in dealing with the public.  They are expected to act EXTRA honest because it is expected that they have greater knowledge about the mortgage industry than consumers.  How does this work, Mr. Santelli?  Are the consumers supposed to suddenly educate themselves so they can catch dishonest bankers and brokers?  Would you hold a patient to the same duty before going to a doctor?  Am I supposed to go get an MBA before I go to a financial expert to ensure they are upholding their fiduciary duty?  Should I get an MD before going to the doctor?

I can’t stand the mentality that we are not obligated to help one another.  Guess what?  We are all in this together.  We can sit in our foreclosed bunkers with our guns aimed at our neighbors and barbed wire wrapped around our hearts to protect us from the enemy, ensuring we keep that property because, hell, it belongs to us, right?  We don’t need to share.  Or we can grow up and realize that society at its heart means social.  It means taking responsibility for one another.  It means what we do for each other we do for ourselves. It means we care for and protect one another and when someone is down, we offer them a hand up.  Taking care of one another is the stuff life is made of.  The alternate choice is to live like Rick Santelli, cold and alone with his gun pointed at everyone, dragging his loot into the afterlife.  Good luck with that, Buddy.

P.S. Being a stock-broker might be a high risk financially, but it is not hard work.

No Wonder People Go Postal on the Post Office

And I don’t even care if I sound like a lunatic.  A more incompetent bunch of losers never occupied the earth (oh wait, there was the last US administration).  Useless useless useless.  You might think I would be sympathetic since my mom works there.  I’m not.  They steal every second the possibly can from her.  She is a rural carrier.  This means they do “mail counts” to determine how long a route should take and pay accordingly.  Every year during this count, all the bulk mail magically disappears!  Isn’t that amazing?!  During most mail days, she has between eight and twelve feet of bulk mail.  During count it is only one foot tall or less!  Unbelievable.  The net result is they claim her route should take seven hours when it takes over ten, and she is fast.  She’s been doing it for twenty years.  It’s been this way the last several years; every count the amount paid for each route goes down.  Now they are making those with the most seniority work six days a week.  Ever wonder why workers go postal?  This may contain the clue.

As for me personally?  I think someone somewhere is just fucking stupid.  I sent three packages parcel post from Honolulu, Hawaii, on 10/28/2008.  I have a receipt for these three packages.  Two of the packages arrived a week and a half ago.  One did not arrive.  I went in and asked about it and was told it could not be tracked because it was parcel post, even with the receipt.

Today, DECEMBER 1, I receive a postage due, FINAL notice that if I do not come pick up the package by DECEMBER 1, the package will be returned.  I received this notice AFTER the post office closed December 1.  This is the ONLY notice I have received, EVER.  I called the post office to attempt to ascertain what was going on.  I was informed after an extended hold that the package was still there and they would hold it (good thing because the wrath they would have incurred had they sent it back would have been that of the devil).

And the cherry on this little sugar cake?  I was informed the package had NO POSTAGE on it and I would have to pay AGAIN to get my package even with the receipt.  I paid over forty-five dollars to send this package.

I have had so many problems with the post office, and now it wants to STEAL forty-five more dollars from me.  It is the WORST organization ever created (next to Enron and Walmart).  No wonder people go postal–the morons who can’t figure out how to deliver a package or affix postage really ought to be removed from “service.”

Assholes.

The Opossum Approach

Weird.  Apparently shitty workplaces are a popular topic.  The story has been hit over and over and over.  My readership stats have tripled, and most of them are to that post.  I have this book called the No Asshole Rule.  The guy who wrote it said it started as an article in Harvard Business Review or something, but he got so much feedback that he ended up writing a book.  Apparently, dreadful workplaces and mean people are pretty prevalent in good old America.  In fact a woman added a link to my post from her blog called www.DecontaminateToxicPeople.com.

Anyway, I think it’s sad we are all laboring, literally, in places that are horrible to work with people who treat us badly.  The thing I find amazing is that in most cases, other than the fact that we are forced to spend some amount of hours with them a week, our coworkers are generally not our friends, at least they weren’t before we went to work with them.  They are not the people we choose to hang out with because we met them and have a lot in common or whatever.  Some may become friends or lovers based on forced proximity, but for the most part, people who work together are all essentially strangers who give their time to a place to pay for their time outside a place.  Yet a large number of these people think it is okay to behave horribly to people they really don’t know.  How pathetic this is.  I guess it would be worse to treat someone you know badly, but there is a different kind of moral reprehensibility in treating a stranger in a wretched manner.

No, actually.  It’s all bad.  I sat here and attempted to separate out whether it is worse to be cruel to people you know versus people you don’t know.  Either one leaves me at the same conclusion:  it’s all bad.  I’m not much of a black and white person.  I can see the grey in many things, even in situations where many others can’t see anything but solid black or stark white.  But in this, in humans treating each other like crap, it all seems morally reprehensible.  I just can’t see where it’s justified.  Over and over I come up with situations in my mind where it might be okay, and I can’t justify any of them.  Well, I suppose it is alright to run over a little old lady who crosses the street against the light, but that’s it.  That’s the only time it is okay to be mean.

All kidding aside, this is my question…under what circumstances is it okay to treat another human being badly?  Because they treated you badly?  For revenge?  Revenge meanness is probably one of the most often employed reasons for hurting someone else.  I would argue against it because in treating someone poorly because they treated you poorly you become as they are in responding in kind.  And I just can’t think of any other reasons that aren’t patently objectionable on the surface, such as being mean because someone is black and you’re white, or not liking the look on someone’s face.  There are just no good reasons to be mean to each other.

Yet it happens. Over and over.  Apparently people don’t care if there is a good reason or not.  I suppose in most cases it has more to do with the person being a jerk than the victim.  Actually that’s probably it most of the time.  Inside the person feels worthless so they get some pitiful power out of being mean.  Or the person assumes no one likes them so they act like an ass to prove themselves right.  Or for some other psycho babble blah blah blah reason.  But these are still lousy reasons.  It says a lot about the state of mental health in most workplaces if this type of behavior is so prevalent, that there are a hell of a lot of people who feel bad about themselves and act this way to compensate.

Based on my own experience I wish I could say that the best response is to be kind and compassionate, and on some level I think that is necessary.  But from a practical standpoint, my experience was to stay the hell away from the toxic people and to avoid them at all costs.  I tried the being direct and professional approach.  They would use it to find a way to hurt me.  I tried smiling.  That seemed to make them mad and would result in some form of retaliation.  I tried being friendly and acting like there nothing was wrong, while simultaneously making damn sure my work was covered so they couldn’t sabbotage it.  That made them sneer and laugh behind my back about whatever friendly comments I had made (I caught them at this several times) .  Frankly, there was no way that I saw to behave except to stay as far away from them as possible.  Play dead.  The opossom approach.  That is the only viable method I advocate.  It might seem pathetic, but it worked.