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The Law Offices of Dick C. Baxter: Quantity Over Quality

Britney is gone for good.

Evidently she's moving to Arkansas with her husband to be a housewife. We all think it's a bad idea.

With Britney gone though there's a lot of slack that needs to be picked up. She left a big hole and she gave no warning of leaving.

That slack has fallen on Akhiljeet and Evie. Akhiljeet is the new EB1 Department Manager and Evie the new Intake (Sales) Manager.

Suddenly, Akhiljeet is starting work at 7 AM and leaving after 5 PM and Evie has gone from working 30 hours to well over 40. Yesterday she stayed in the office until 7PM and today she was still there when I left. The work that has been dumped on them is overwhelming.

They both gripe about their situations and at the same time follow all orders without wavering. They both complain to each other but not to Dick.

Evie supervises Harry and Irene who don't respect or listen to her. For the salespeople there's much more to the job than working. They must write reports, they must keep records on their leads, and so forth. And Harry and Irene refuse to do these other things. Evie and them butt heads about it.

I told Irene today, "Get Setareh and Dick's support. Tell them what's going on and have them tell those two who is boss."

Evie nodded.

A little later in the same conversation Evie got teary about not spending more time with her husband and small son because she has to work.

"Adam is a wonderful little boy. He's only going to be that wonderful little boy for a brief moment, then it's gone forever," she said before shedding tears.

Then she added, "Nathan is going to deploy in two months. What if he gets killed? I would feel so guilty that I could have spent so much time with him before he left. Instead, I'm spending that time here."

I said, "Give only as much as you receive. It's not like Dick is paying us a living wage. Well, he's not paying me one."

"Oh, me either. Who here is?" she asked.

I added, "I have pressure too, to write more and more arguments. And now with your team selling more and more cases I'm going to have four times as much work. But I'm not even going to try to complete all of it. I will work at a reasonable pace and finish what I can. The work that isn't done, the cases that are delayed or neglected? Those will be Dick's responsibility. He's the one selling all of these cases."

Akhiljeet, who in addition to carrying out supervising duties also writes EB1 case arguments, talked about the struggles she's experiencing with the case of an actor. His case is very weak.

In response, Evie said, 'I wasn't comfortable with retaining that case! I told Setareh but with Dick pushing her to make $100,000 in monthly sales, she brushed me off and said, "Ah, they'll get the evidence later"'



Today we celebrated Setareh's fourth anniversary and Desma's twelfth.

Desma is Dick's daughter and she has worked for the family company since she graduated from high school.

"We used to work out of a 1,200 square feet house in Valencia. Dick and I used to work out of an office the size of Britney's and Desma used to work under the stairs," said Enid, Dick's wife, nostalgically.

Then they mythologized Setareh.

"Imagine moving to Tehran without knowing a word of Farsi. Then you get there and go to school, learn Farsi on the side, and then get a job at an all-Farsi-speaking law office and within four months you become manager. Well, that's what Setareh did but in reverse!" said Dick.

As Enid and Dick told these stories, we all sat or stood around a coffee table topped with plates of food. There were wraps, a salad, croissant sandwiches, and quinoa. The quinoa was specifically for me.

Three weeks ago, when Akhiljeet, Leisha, and I came to work on a Saturday morning, Dick announced that as soon as Costco opened he'd bring us food. Certain that he would forget that I'm a vegan I texted him about it and after some deliberation between my co-workers and I we decided to ask Dick to look for quinoa at Costco. So when he arrived with food later in the morning, there was something I could actually eat.

Today, when he first arrived in the office, he stopped by our office. I saw him approaching from a reflection on a window and I resolved to keep my eyes on the computer. I'm still angry at him and I try not to look at him.

However, once he was in the office, he called my name. He was getting my attention to announce that he had brought quinoa for the anniversary meal. I felt grateful.

"Thanks Dick," I said.

I felt better about us after that. However, I was already feeling better in general because even earlier in the morning Setareh took me aside and told me that I would be receiving my bonus anyway. Setareh, apparently, had advocated for me.

I'm glad that I'll be receiving my bonus. I appreciate Dick making sure that I can participate in the group meals that are had at the office. However, at $16 per hour, with scant benefits, I am still being underpaid. And after what happened, I don't think that there will be a bonus to be eligible for.

I still have an issue with Dick.

As we ate, I avoided making eye contact with Dick or socializing with him. At one point he sat on the same couch that I was on but then quickly moved away.

Dick and I still have beef for his underpaying me but also for all the things said recently, including his threat to fire me disguised as a "company warning."


Dick's Lieutenant Quits

I arrived at the office at 8 AM on the dot. As usual, Britney was already in her office and she was on the phone and I was the  second person to arrive in the office. I put my lunch away, greeted Britney as I walked past her office, and went to my desk to sign in.

Britney spends a lot of time on the phone because Dick relies so much on her. However, Britney also spends a lot of time on the phone with her husband with whom she has a troubled marriage. I've seen her storm out of the office after talking with him, cry on the phone, yell at him on the phone, and leave the office to continue a conversation with him.

Soon after I sat down and clocked in, Juliette and Poli came in, and right behind them, Akhiljeet, who usually arrives no earlier than a quarter after because she lives forty minutes away from the office. She sat down and signed into her computer. In the meantime, Britney continued on the phone. Her voice penetrated clearly--if you paid attention--through the wall into Akhiljeet and I's office.

I was not listening. Akhiljeet was.

Then there was silence.

I paid no mind until fifteen minutes later when Evie came in and announced, "It looks like we're going to sail without Britney this morning," in her thick Australian accident. Right behind her came Poli, who was dressed in a navy blue dress with white stripes and an open white sweater.

Poli said, "I want to pray for Poli."

Then she looked around and added, "I know not everyone here is a Christian but for those that are comfortable, please join me."

Everyone was agreeable and so we sat in the office and listened to Poli's prayer. In her prayer, Poli asked for Britney's safety and Dick's understanding.

I thought her request for Dick's understanding was rather funny because I couldn't imagine Dick not understanding. Not because he's a compassionate, empathetic man but because he would have no choice but to understand. Britney is nothing less than his lieutenant. If push came to shove, Britney could run the firm.

Later I heard Akhiljeet say that Britney had announced, "I'm done," as she stormed out of her office.

As I mentioned in "The Cast," Britney is the firm's senior most employee. She has nearly six years of experience, can do every job from selling a case to preparing the label to ship it to USCIS to everything in between, and is like the office's oracle. When I'm stuck on a case I can  go to her and get an answer. No one other than Dick--who is seldom in the office--has her level of expertise. The firm is hobbled without her.

Later in the morning, I was on the phone with a client when Akhiljeet handed me a Post-It note with, "Dick is coming in soon," written on it. By lunch time Dick still hadn't come in. Poli and I were going out to lunch together--an invitation I had initially declined but, in light of things, accepted because I needed to talk about what had happened in the morning. The atmosphere in the office, until then, had been crisp with tension.

Poli and I were in my car ready to leave for the mall when Akhiljeet came running out of the building towards the car.

"Dick is coming and Setareh wants to know if you can stay for his visit," she announced to us, with short breath, once she arrived at my window.

Poli and I obliged. We just picked up our lunch--which had been ordered, and returned to the office to listen to what Dick would have to say. In due time, Dick arrived uncharacteristically dressed up to code. He had on a navy blue suit but then he had on a pair of tan shoes with a black vapor-like film to them that made them look like they'd been burned.

Dick didn't really say anything. He was still in shock. He did suggest that Akhiljeet would be replacing Britney's role.