The Demise of the Gold Watch

Posted on June 2, 2015


Ann-Sothern-Susie (1)


Life in the Boomer Lane has whipped herself up into a frenzy lately, with deep and profound posts about guns and the environment.  She needs a break.

This should be good news for former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, who doesn’t have to worry that LBL will skewer him for  engaging in “sexual misconduct” with a student, while Hastert was a teacher in Illinois.  Hastert agreed to pay the former student hush money to the tune of 3.5 million dollars and was forced to hide the cash transactions made from various banks. Hastert was indicted Thursday on charges that he structured bank withdrawals to avoid federal reporting requirements and later lied about it to the FBI. LBL is gratified that Hastert, able to accumulate many millions of dollars both before and after he left office, wasn’t forced to take out a second mortgage on his home in order to make the payments. Rest easy, Dennis. LBL is looking the other way.

Instead, LBL will return to a favorite topic of hers, talking about things that have no meaning in anyone’s life, other than that they are mildly amusing.  Here goes:

A close friend of LBL, whom we shall call Susie, in homage to the role Ann Southern played on her classic TV show, “Private Secretary,” has just retired from her job as a secretary at a well-known, high-powered law firm.  She worked directly for several of the firm’s partners.

The career of secretary involved, until the advent of computers and law firm partners having recently celebrated puberty, dictation and typing and a general knowledge of how to purchase flowers and gifts for the spouses of the partners.  Now many lawyers, no matter how lofty their positions, take care of their own correspondence and often use the internet to purchase their own gifts. Secretaries have, instead, become handlers, and Susie was one of the best.

Law firm partners generally use almost all of their prodigious brain cells to execute the law, as well as to oversee the financial rewards that go along with such execution.  There are few brain cells left to keep track of where their passports are, which countries they are scheduled to visit on business trips, and where they put their Starbucks receipts, so that they may later be compensated for their daily lattes.

One time, Susie had to track down her boss’s Porsche car key, which he dropped in a “brown” cab driven by a “foreign” taxi driver, who he couldn’t describe further because he only saw the back of his head.  Another boss left his cell phone on the Metro, and the person who found it eventually call his office number (after calling most of his contacts list first).  Susie answered the call, left and got the cell, an had it sitting on her boss’s desk by the time he walked into the office.

Susie did her job brilliantly. She kept track of the boring minutia of their lives, so that they could better devote themselves to doing whatever it is that people making over $1 mil per year do with themselves when they aren’t working.  She was paid well, given hefty end-of-year bonuses, and accumulated sizable gift certificates on her birthday, Christmas and  Secretary’s Day.

She looked forward to what she would receive at retirement. Being privy to the partners’ emails, she followed the chain of discussions about how they would collect money for her, what kind of gift certificate they would purchase, and who would take charge of doing the online purchasing.

It was in this last area that communications started to break down. Susie began to become concerned when it appeared that all of the partners were too busy and too distracted to take care of this one simple  matter. Normally they would have delegated the task to Lucy, but, in this case, they couldn’t.

On Susie’s last day, she was feted at a lavish party, complete with catered food, speeches lauding her service to the firm,  and a bouquet of flowers that approximated the size of that thrown around the neck of the winning horse at Churchill Downs. Through all of this she waited for the presentation of the gift certificate. It never came.

She checked her email, thinking that the company issuing the gift certificate would have sent her a notice. What she discovered was that her company email account has already been vaporized. She exited the building on her last day with only a small box of personal belongings, her umbrella and about 40 lbs of flowers that had already started to wilt.