I am perfectly comfortable with the fact that my job is, basically, a gofer position. What I’m not comfortable with is the way it can be abused, to the benefit of no one.

Let’s say that the attorney on a particular file needs a fish. If he does not have the fish with him in court, cleaned and cooked (both of which are his job) in two days, we will be in violation of the law. This file belongs to a certain person who will remain nameless, who has already given her assistant the job of procuring five other fish so far that day. Let’s say that I am that assistant. I am madly casting about, not even sure if I am using the right bait to get the specific fish she wants. A paper lands in my boat with a sticky note attached: “Pls provide fish to def atty.”

Okay, I think, I’m game. I set the pole down and inspect the paper. And I recognize the file this is about. “I found out where those fish live,” I shout back to her, where she stands on the pier. “They’re right under you. And there’s a pole in the file.” I also faxed a fish to the attorney last month, but I don’t say that.

“Well, if you could go ahead and just get one and give it to me. Thanks.” And she walks off.

I fume. I pull the other line back up. I rebait the hook, catch the fish, and deliver it to her.

“Thanks, if you could go ahead and fax it to the defense attorney.”

I fax the fish. I go back to my other lines. Some of them get bites.

Two days later, she gets a call from the attorney. He has not cleaned nor cooked the fish, because she told him I would do that. She did not tell me I would do that. He is at the trial and the judge is skeptical of his fish. I am now in the position of having to speed-clean and pressure-cook our copy of the fish. She tells the attorney how it comes out. Apparently it is not exactly the right fish, but since no one bothered to check before now, it will have to do. The judge decides. We pay some money.

I receive an email. “Thx for your work on the fish… Next time I ask you for a fish pls get it to the def atty right away… He didn’t get to clean and cook it this time and that looks bad for us… Thx.”

The moral of the story: Give an attorney a fish, and you’ll mess up your fax machine. Teach an examiner to fish, and you’ll turn your head inside out before you succeed.

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