Law students are already back to the grind (well, most of them are, I suppose). While suffering through a disastrous Wednesday evening, I thought about a bit of advice given to all first year law students, usually at their orientation: your reputation as a lawyer begins now. Most students begin studiously ignoring that advice at the open-bar social event at the end of their orientation.
It's good advice for anyone, really: your reputation as a professional begins now. As I sat across a table from a 30-year-old man who made increasingly obnoxious comments about getting me into bed and then pouting when I politely turned him down, I realized that I would go out of my way to avoid working with him. Ever. And I would discreetly encourage every woman I know to do the same.
It should be obvious that I'm no prude. But, making graphic sexual inquiries to a co-worker that you just met is over the line. Also, I never gave any sign that I was interested in so much as harmless flirting. And when I politely (me! polite!) declined his advances, he kept at it. Did I mention I'm a c0-worker? Seriously, asshat, the response to "I just thought this was a friendly outing. I'd like to just be friends" is not "Well, what about letting me go down on you? Or giving me a back rub in your underwear?"
EXCUSE ME? Now, typically, this is where the vodka and glass starts to fly. Unfortunately, that wasn't an option, so I glared, and managed to keep my voice even as I replied.
"When I said I wasn't going to go to bed with you, I meant it. I'm sorry that I offended you, but you asked me to give you a straight answer. I can't explain why and I don't have to." When he attempted to give me a hug and a cheek-kiss at the end of the evening, I shouted "off!" like I was talking to a dog. Actually, it was exactly the way I give a command to my dog. (Most people reacted to this story with indignation. Barney kinda--shrugged. Like he wouldn't have done something like that, but he still found it mildly amusing. Until further notice, I'm no longer speaking to you, B.)
People, take heed: This is absolutely inexcusable behavior. I will never see his name on an email without thinking of this incident. And that's not good. (Update: Jackass had the nerve to call me and email me today. Whiskey, tango, foxtrot?)
I know this behavior is egregious, but honestly, it's not just extreme behavior like this that reflects poorly on you. There are people I went to school with that I decided I would never work with by the end of our first week. Some people took a little longer. You all know who I'm talking about: the one who couldn't tell you what class they were in, much less the rule of law in the case they were presenting; the one who was sweating vodka every Tuesday morning by 10; the one who couldn't find a shower with a map and a tour guide; the smarmy bastard so utterly convinced of his own cleverness that the professor couldn't get through calling on the first student without a "helpful" comment from Mr. Smarty-pants.
The gunners, so desperate to be regarded as intelligent contributors to the class that they come up with questions that are so far removed from reality that they no longer have anything to do with the subject (Q: What if a meteor drops on D after he pulls out the gun, but before he shoots Vic? A: We don't prosecute smoking craters in this country. No, not for attempt. Not for anything.).
Mr. Racist/Sexist/Homophobic. Just shut up. By now, you should recognize the groaning sound that sweeps through a 100 person lecture hall every time you open your mouth (My favorite: If you don't like the schools in the inner-city because they're so bad, why don't you just move?)
The person who uses scare tactics and/or underhanded dealings to "get ahead." Dude, if the only way you can get ahead is by checking out ALL of the study aids on a topic, you've got a problem. Trying to screw with other people doesn't make you smarter.
The lazy one who never pulls their weight on a class group project or in the student organization.
The whiny one who complains constantly about the unfairness/workload of a student organization they competed to get into. On a public forum. (We seriously had a person write a piece about the fact that Law Review was "A lot of work. And the assignments aren't fun." No kidding. We never marketed ourselves as a social organization. We publish a scholarly journal. We don't organize sorority mixers. It's a lot of hard work.
And the person, who, just couldn't deal with other people. You don't have to be a slacker to screw up a team. You can be malicious. You can be overbearing. You can be inflexible. You can be so insecure that you spend all of your energy trying to put on a show so you'll be liked. If you spent half as much time just doing your work as you do spreading rumors, bullying other people, or trying to be someone you think everyone wants you to be; you'd be a pleasure to work with. And people wouldn't peg you as being a bitch/bully/phony right off the bat.
Seriously, I know I can be cranky, and I say "fuck" way too much, but I also know that I go out of my way to treat my colleagues with respect. And yes, I'm aware that no one can be perfect all the time (God knows I'm not) but please, do yourselves a favor: do not make these habits. Don't be that person. It may seem like common sense, but I had at least one actual person in mind for each of the above. Be the person that others want to go into business with. Not the one that people move out of state to get away from.
(919): What do you bring to an...
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