There is no such thing as a simple organism, not really. The simplest we can get are microbes. Little paramecia and the like. And even they aren't truly simple. Sure they look easy enough to understand, but we know that if we subject one of those little guys to enough stress (i.e. heat their environment, shrink it, etc...), they'll do various things to preserve themselves. They'll take a different shape, move differently, and so forth. What makes them "decide" to do that? We can't really see a brain in there. So how do they know? Complexity.
My environment had changed, too.
"Heah's yuh desk," Lynda said, "I think I got all my stuff outta theah."
"Oh I didn't know you were leaving."
"When's your last day?"
Tuhday? TUHDAY!? So I had one day to swipe all the knowledge preserved on this woman's stone-tablet brain and learn how to apply it? Oh I was a very nervous microbe.
"Yeah," she continued, "The othuh para's gonna start next week, so you'll have to know this stuff well enough tuh teach it."
Now I was screwed. But I listened anyway. I'm always doing this. Getting myself into situations where I have to do something I don't know faster than it's ever been done before. Though usually there's never much risk to it. If I can't learn to play the guitar in a week, well, no one's gonna bang down my door and haul me off to prison. Here, though, failure meant back to poverty - where the only value of a college degree is in its use as toilet paper.
"Did I tell yuh 'bout thuh kitchen?"
"Yeah. About the labeling?"
People say "Yeah" alot in these jobs. The quicker the better.
"Okay, so...oop! I fuhgot Mr. Mittens!" She collected a porcelain cat from the top of her computer and put it in her purse, which was on the short, gray carpet. The kind of carpet no one ever puts in their homes, but offices always use.
"So, heah's the computer. You know how tuh file a motion?"
"Make two copies of all Court docs and stick one in the file ovuh theah."
I didn't actually know all these things, so much as heard of other people doing them. She went on. Some things I asked about. Like I was truly lost when she got into civil cover sheets. As far as I could tell, the document was a series of boxes and lines, some of which you could leave blank, others you could only leave blank if you wanted prison time. So the stakes were high.
"Arright I'm gonna grab lunch, then you can go."
I sat at Lynda's desk. My desk, I suppose. It seemed like a light day. Bill and Terrence were out today. Bill was at Court, and Terrence was taking a personal day. I guess you can do that when your name is on the door. If only there were a way to skip straight to that job.
The chair was rejecting me like a body rejecting a new organ. Her ass groove was much too wide for me. Too low. The armrests too high. The seat too slanted downwards. The chair had to recalculate now. So did I.
My desk was bare, save for a few files I couldn't even begin to guess at the relevance of. Well, I didn't have any cases to look after at that point, so I figured I'd devote my time to administrative work. In about ten seconds, I was on Facebook.
Somewhere along my administrative journey, I hear a yell.
I didn't know how to answer that.
I had to do something. This was my ship now.
"He's out today."
"Oh yeah," Rick faded out from his corner office.
The phone rang. Now we were picking up steam. I answered.
"Barney Rodwell, Jonathan here."
"Who the hell is this?" vibrated the female on the other end.
Okay, so my maiden phone call wasn't going to win any Tonys.
"This is Chris. I'm a paralegal for Barney Rodwell."
"She's on lunch. But today's her last day. I'll be taking over for her."
Silence. Then a sigh.
I hated that question.
"How'd you get stuck with that?"
"I don't really know, but I'd imagine the same way you got stuck with yours."
Which at this point I could only imagine to be "Doucherson."
"Hmm. Is Rick in?"
"Can I speak to him?"
"Oh, uh, sure hang on..."
I figured out where the "Hold" button was and ran into Rick's office.
"Yeah," he blandly muttered, ogling his computer screen.
"There's a woman on the phone who wants to speak with you."
"Who is it?"
"I don't know."
"Well what's her name?"
I wanted to say, "Ms. Doucherson, I assume," but it came out:
"I, uh, don't know."
"Name, case, and what it's regarding. Three things you always get off the phone. I don't know who this person is. You gotta get those three things. If they have a case, take the info down and e-mail it to me. Tell them we'll get back to them."
He didn't state this in an upset tone, just an, I'm-doing-something-else-and-you're-bothering-me tone.
"Put 'er through."
"You got it."
Back at my desk, her presence was still there as a flashing number on my phone's mini LCD screen. I looked everywhere for a "Transfer" button, but didn't see one. Taking her off hold, she heard me fumbling, hit several buttons, then hang up the receiver. I was pretty confident I had gotten it right until--
"Uh, it's 'Jonathan.'"
"Right. Did you send that call through?"
Well, I thought I did.
"Uh, no, I guess she hung up."
"She hung up?"
Silence. Is golden? I had to think so. By then Lynda was back.
"If yuh need me, I'll be in heah."
She then went into Bill's office, and shut the door without turning on the light. It seemed like everyone had a better job than me.
After a few hours of manning my desk, transferring calls (I had read the manual by this point), and surfing the internet, Melody stopped by.
"So how's your first day going?"
"Oh fine, I think."
"As first days go, nothing out of the ordinary, I'm sure."
"Hey could you swing by my office? I'm having trouble with my phone."
So I wasn't the only one.