birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

File clerk

In college I worked at a high-end law firm. It sounds like a punch line, but my boss was Johnny Cochran's lawyer. "File clerk" was nice title, and double minimum wage was a nice hourly rate, for what really amounted to undergrad, part time, office assistant and errand girl.

I wasn't the only one. There were about 8 clerks in all, and we were all blonde and light-eyed, all at UCLA. We made copies, filled in at the front desk while the receptionist was on her lunch break, and drove all over Southern California delivering documents to opposing counsel and filing forms with court clerks. And we poured a lot of coffee for a lot of very wealthy people.

Some days, it was like a caricature of an LA Law Firm: Money, glamour, celebrity clients sipping Pellegrino (delivered by a young blonde beauty, of course), and powerful men getting exactly what they wanted. Other days, it was grim: Crying secretaries, swearing paralegals, slamming doors, and self-centered man-children throwing tantrums about what they couldn't have.

I once had drive across the city to meet a partner at a courthouse. He made me wait in the gallery for his hearing to conclude, and then sent me to his car to collect a golf club in need of repair. Another partner paid me $500 in cash to wait in line at the DMV for him on my day off.
The office manager told me I'd be welcome to stay on as long as I wanted after graduation.

I didn't stay.



Dateline: Harlem Avenue