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7/27/17

EB1 Green Card Case Manager: A Date with Mahrooz

Late last night Mahrooz texted me:

"Hey Tomas do u want
to go out to lunch
tomorrow?"

To which I replied:

"Hi Mahrooz. I'd love too."

Frankly, I was surprised at the invitation. Mahrooz has been aloof with me at times.

In the morning, when Mahrooz arrived to work a few minutes after me she came to my desk to finalize our plans. She was wearing a floral printed dress. I looked forward to our lunch the entire morning.

At noon on the dot I went to her desk.

"I'm ready when you are."

"Okay. Lemme clock out," she replied.

As you may remember, Mahrooz is Afghan. Born there. She speaks with an endearing accent and occasional odd syntax. I like listening to her.



"Me too," I said to her.

She chuckled because since I had come to her office to tell her I was ready she assumed that I had already clocked out.

Our cars were parked next to each other in the lot and she asked me what car I'd like to go in. I didn't hesitate to say mine.

"Ooh, you like to be in control. Don't you?"

I capitalized and replied, "Yes, and that goes for the bedroom as well."

To which she giggled like a 16 year-old.

It's summer so I blasted the A/C as soon as we were in the car. We took off and got held up at the first traffic light where I decided not to rush on an amber light.

"It's okay," she said to me, "we'll catch the next green light."

When we had just left the office I congratulated her on getting promoted to full-time work.

"It's good for you, right?" I said to her.

She affirmed and proceeded to tell me how her other boss at the Veggie Grill where she works doesn't want to let her go and so she's currently working 14 hour days. She leaves the office at 5 and reports to the restaurant at 5:30, leaving at midnight.

Internally, I hoped she would stop that to make some time for herself but also to provide opportunity for us to socialize more often. On the other hand, I also admired her scrappy work ethic.

Once we were settled in on the Chipotle patio, with a burrito for me and a veggie bowl for her, we began chatting in earnest.

Mahrooz is competing for another job: Internship Coordinator at National University, a salaried position. The hiring process last six weeks so she told me she wouldn't be leaving Dick's office for a minute yet. She also expressed some concern over how Dick would take her leaving.

I helped her get control of that situation by asking her, "Who cares how he will feel?"

To which she laughed. When Mahrooz laughs her face becomes oval and her eyes become slits like she was suffering but instead she is in stitches. She laughs with true joy.

I made her laugh like that a second time when I told her why I was still working with Dick.

"I'm going to unionize the office," I said.

She laughed at the gall of it all.

Once she was done laughing, she asked me if the job was worth the trouble.

"If I succeed in unionizing the office we can get some real things: a living wage, vacation time, health insurance, and maybe even a pension. It would be a different job, a job worth committing too."

She got it but not completely. She still thought it was better to just move to another job.

"The problem is not this office or Dick. The problem is capitalism. Wherever we go we're going to be exploited."

She didn't understand this.

So I explained.

"Say you get a job where you make four times what you make here. Well, that just means that your new boss makes four times what Dick makes. Your still being exploited because you're boss is still getting the lion's share of the profits. You're just a more expensive slave but a slave nonetheless."

To which she said, "So you want to go back to communism?"

"Go back? America has never been communist."

We talked about the old USSR, Cuba, and Venezuela.

We talked about how America has always meddled in other people's democracies and destroyed them.

Once the food was gone she asked me, a bit coquettish, so are you ready for some Jamba Juice.

To which I replied in the affirmative and she bought me a small Matcha Tea. I had bought the food.

It was a nice date. 

7/8/17


John Henry DaysJohn Henry Days by Colson Whitehead
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. What a great book.

Whitehead takes a folk tale -- that of black steel driver John Henry -- and brings it to a life that spans the beginning of the age of the railroad to the 1990's. It's not because John Henry lived that long. Actually, Henry died quite young since winning a steel-driving contest with a machine cost him his life. Whitehead does it by bringing to light the life of various characters whose lives intersect somehow with the folk hero.

There is J. Sutter, the hack who is sent on a junket to cover the inauguration of the "John Henry Days" in the Midwest town that has laid claim to being the birthplace of John Henry. There is Pamela, the daughter of a man who spent his life collecting John Henry memorabilia and ran a museum dedicated to the railroad worker out of his apartment which no one ever visited. There is the stamp collector whose crowning jewel is a stamp of John Henry and who, inexplicably, begins shooting his gun at a John Henry Days event and is shot down by police. There is, of course, John Henry himself toiling on the West-ward railroad alongside many other poor men of that era.

The novel is not written linearly or chronologically. We don't start at the beginning of John Henry's life and end at the closing of John Henry Days. Instead, in each chapter, Whitehead narrates a different slice of the American tale of John Henry from the perspective of a different character. While at times this device can be slightly disorienting it also keeps the novel alive -- saving it from a plodding linear narration.

I am edified by the reading of this novel. I had never heard of John Henry. Now his name, story, and legend are meaningful to me. His life is American and modern history. He represents the generations who died to bring humanity the railroad. His death -- in competition with a steam machine to drive steel -- is a sacrifice to "progress."

Whitehead's writing style is mesmerizing and entirely original. His descriptions seems to defy the laws of narrative gravity.

By the end of the novel J. Sutter has gotten his story but it's not one that he was expecting. It's not the fluff that, as a regular junketeer, he's hired to write. He's found something much more meaningful and he must choose between which story he will bring to the light and what life he will live from then on.


View all my reviews


7/3/17

EB1 Green Card Case Manager / Produce or Perish

I've pasted Dick's latest email verbatim so the audience may see what an ass he is and also so we can all laugh at his poor grammar. 

From: “Dick / Law Offices of Dick C. Baxter” dick@baxteresq.com
Sent: Monday, July 3, 2017 8:01 AM
To: EB1 Writing Staff
Cc: "Setareh" setareh@baxteresq.com
Subject: Dick to EB1 Writing Team - July a New Month

Hi Team,

Yes, losing Britney was an awful blow to the the entire firm and it has taken us a few weeks to find our bearings. However, in order for this firm to thrive we, individually have to be extremely mindful of our own productivity. The entire EB1 backend team made $24,260 in June. To put that in perspective Evie, made almost that amount by herself in June. Whatever the reasons for the EB1 backend team overall poor performance in June and I'm not laying blame here, I want to put it behind us and draw a line but moving forward I really have to consider whether we have the right people or systems in place to make the EB1 backend team successful. July will be your month to shine.

So here is what I need from each of you.

1. You need to deliver at least 12 arguments per month. That's just three per week. I don't mind if you spend Monday thru Thursday just working up evidence and then on Friday just writing as much as you can, as long as you can get to three by the end of each week, that's all that matters. 
Leisha - your quota will be pro-rated due to you working on the AOS Training Manual this week. 

2. I've discussed with Akhiljeet that your (Tanís and Leisha) goal should be to work up six arguments per week, and then draft at least three arguments per week so you've never stuck without arguments to write. 

3. Delmira Roble will be starting on July 10th. Delmira's role will be as a ghost writer. What that means is, that Akhiljeet will devote time every day working up evidence for cases that Delmira will write for her. Delmira, will also be available to provide writing support to Leisha and Tanís, if Akhiljeet cannot keep her busy all of the time.

Delmira will not be known to the clients at all, she will be a ghost. Here is the rationale. Writing arguments is far easier than working up the evidence. To work up evidence you have to deal with the clients, chase in the evidence, review the evidence, go back to the client for more and better evidence until you have everything you need. The writing part is certainly the fun part and the easiest part.

What I'm finding is that when I had experienced staff working evidence and experienced staff writing arguments, the client's got mad because the person they spoke to the most was the evidence (Discovery) specialist and if that person was inexperienced it simply frustrated the client. When the Discovery Specialist has the responsibility of Discovery and Writing the case (Trial), everything gets muddled and progresses very slowly indeed - too slow for the firm to thrive. 

I need Akhiljeet to use her brain power to work up evidence as outlined above and to ensure that Tanís and Leisha do the same. 

Minimum Productivity Requirements

Tanís - I need 12 completed arguments written by you by the end of July. 

Leisha - I need 12 completed arguments written by you by the end of July. (pro-rated)

Akhiljeet - I need you to feed Delmira at the very least 1 argument per day that she must complete every day. Ideally, I'll be expecting Delmira once, dialed in, to write one argument in the AM and one argument in the PM.

If anyone cannot manage 12 arguments per month, then I'm not going to be able to keep them in that position as to do so would be bad for the firm. I'll need to figure something out.

So do what ever you can and need to do hit the above minimum numbers. If you feel for any reason you cannot hit those numbers first talk to Akhiljeet, then Akhiljeet will talk to Setareh, and if neither of them can get you there then I'll talk to all of you.

The bottom line is that in order for this firm to thrive, there must be an absolute minimum level of productivity that must be delivered in order to justify that person in that position.

At present I'm working almost all of my waking hours in order to fill in here, and fill in there. I'm constantly exhausted and it's not from having fun. I cannot sustain this. So, in July, I'm going to be looking to see who can really deliver consistently what they need to.

Support 

1. I'm expecting Bully Sullivan to be releasing new features to the IPC  this week to help us work more efficiently. 
2. I'm interviewing two additional part-time programmers to work on the IPC to add more features to help both Intake and Backends. I hope to get one or two of them started July 10th also.

Failure is Not an Option 

The law firm has come a long way over the years. It's not been a straight line up, it's zig-zagged for sure, but the trend has always been up. Sure, people have come and gone, but still the firm has grown. Why? because I have an obligation to every employee who shows up to work and produces to make sure we're all provided for, we all have a very secure job, so we can have a life outside of the job. I cannot fail in this regard. However,  to do so the majority of the staff must be able to hit their numbers otherwise try as I might we will fail overall and I'm not going to let that happen.  
I'm sure by the end of this month, we'll all have a lot to celebrate because I have every confidence that July will be a great month for all of us.

Cheers,
Dick C. Baxter, LL.M., ESQ

Attorney at Law

EB1 Green Card Case Manager / Optional Overtime

Dick is feeling the heat of not having Britney around. The work is oozing out of the range of our capabilities within an eight-hour work day.

Dick's answer is overtime and he expects -- though he would be hard-pressed to admit this to himself -- his employees to work extra hours when he asks.

He asked Leisha and Akhiljeet both of whom rebuffed him. Akhiljeet has wedding-planning activities scheduled on the weekends and Leisha wants to spend time with her daughter.

When Leisha says no to Dick he says to her, "But Vanessa is on vacation!" Dick is suggesting that because Vanessa is off school for the summer Leisha no longer needs the weekends to spend time with her since the little girl is home the entire week. Never mind that Leisha is at work until 5 PM every day. However, Dick is only privy to his self-serving logic.

Later in the day Dick comes into the office and after he leaves Leisha wonders if I noticed that they didn't talk to each other. Evidently, Dick is upset with Leisha because she refused to work overtime that weekend.

Leisha explains to me, "Dick doesn't understand that I am a single mother. I have no one to help me. When I work on Saturday I don't have a spouse to leave Vanessa with. I need to hire a babysitter and I lose time with my daughter. Dick sacrificed his family as he built up his business but he could afford to because [his wife] Enid was at home taking care of his children. I can't do that."

The subject of Britney -- who Leisha visited at home a few days after she left -- comes up.

"I talked to Britney. She told me that she left because she wasn't going to give up her marriage for the firm. That's what Dick has done. Britney told me. Dick and Enid are still together but they're just going through the motions."

Dick attempted to manipulate Akhiljeet into working overtime as well.

According to her, after declining overtime, Dick said to her, "You know? Most attorneys work overtime," suggesting that -- for Dick's convenience -- Akhiljeet should do like "most attorneys."

Akhiljeet's response to this was, "Yes, most attorneys work overtime but they make much more money."

Dick responded, "Most attorneys are paid salaries and they're expected to work overtime."

Akhiljeet finished him off by answering, "I don't have a salary here. I don't even have benefits." 

EB1 Case Manager / New Hire

June 14

Management has been interviewing candidates for Case Managers, referred to as "Writers" at this firm.

One candidate shone on paper. Her name is Delmira Robles. She's no more than two years out of college. She presented a slick résumé and cover letter but she didn't interview as well.

Setareh and Akhiljeet didn't like her youth -- the fact that she said she wasn't sure what she wanted yet in life.

Dick, along with Setareh, interviewed her too. Setareh says she was suddenly nervous so Dick didn't like her at all.

Nonetheless, the firm is so desperate for another case manager to deal with the well over 100 cases -- and counting -- that she has been offered the position.

She's starting on July 10th.