Saturday, March 31, 2007

Not Flying Under The Radar

So, a couple weeks ago, my school had its CALI Awards. For those of you not familiar, a CALI award is given to the highest grade in each class (See this website for a list of schools that participate in the CALI program (91 total), it even has all the winners, (good luck finding me, but hopefully you can find you). For those not in the CALI program, it is referred to as getting “The Book” in a class. See this for more info).

I cleaned up at the CALI’s, but really did not want to go. I am not really one for public acknowledgment of achievements. A grade on a transcript, a pat on the back from my boss, and money are all I really need for validation. Sure, absence of some recognition hurts, we all have some ego that needs to be fed, but I have no need to stuff myself on ambient praise.

But I went because I did not want the Prof. making the announcements to make some snide comment about me. Turned out, he did not read the awards, so it was all moot anyway. But I still rebelled in my own little way. The invitation says “Formal Attire Requested” leaving a nice loophole, such as using "may" in a contract.

No, I did not show up in my usual slovenly appearance. I showered before hand. I wore a nice shirt (though it is frayed in a few places) and wore a pair of khakis that are frayed, look like shit and are too long and big for me, so they keep falling down. However, I did wear nice shoes (not my regular shoes that are falling apart) and black socks. Had I not just shaved my head recently for unrelated reasons, who knows what my hair would have looked like, but that was not a concern. Quite a few of the guys getting CALIs showed up in a suit and tie, looking immaculate.

A part of me feels bad for not treating this like a big deal. For most people, getting a CALI is a big deal, and it should be. It is not easy. Sadly, my 153 LSAT and inability to write a decent personal statement left me at this school, and while I do (or more accurately, did) bust my ass, to me, this is all inconsequential. I have more demons to fight than a CALI can shield. But for others, it truly is a great accomplishment. A part of me feels like I cheapen this for others when I show up like I do not care and leave with a wheelbarrow of CALIs.

Maybe I should turn this around, all those who CALIed classes with me in them should feel even better about their achievement. Maybe? Can that happen? I got kind of pissed that I did not CALI a couple of classes, but I suppose it happens (for instance, one class I had last semester, I finished the exam with over an hour left. I considered revising and adding to my answers, but did not feel like it because the Prof. wrote some shitty exam questions. If he cannot put forth a good faith effort to test me, why should I bother to put forth a better than good faith effort to answer? I still got an A-, but I hate being talked down to. I am much more pleased with the exam that was impossible that I ended up with an A- on).

So you probably think I am an asshole right about now (and you would be right, but at least I know it right?) but let me close out this post with a nice anecdote. Back a couple years before I went to law school, I was working a night job. It was a seasonal position, and I was in charge of operations (jointly with another guy), but for all intents and purposes I was a temp. I would be let go at the end of the summer, just like all the guys I supervised. But this job involved very intense operations in the two weeks leading up to July 4th (we worked hard to make your picnics more comfortable). These two weeks involved long hours by everyone, grunts and supervisors combined (by this I mean that everyone in the company got involved in the normal operations, not just the seasonal workers). But my crew would work 11-14 hours days, depending on how things went. Each grunt would head out in a truck, do their assignments, and come back, and invariably, if they got back before 4 am I would send them out to do more work (imagine coming in after working 10 hours only to have your super demand you do more work, the night after you worked 14 hours).

So anyway, July 3rd was usually a pretty short night. So that night, I decided to do something nice for my guys. The bosses did not give a shit about how hard they worked, or the shit they put up with from me (most of them liked me, but I would just keep pushing them). So I told my co-super, after the crew had gone out for the night, that I was going to order a bunch of pizzas for the guys. He asked me why, and I said because it would be nice. Make them feel appreciated. A small gesture can boost morale (god knows the bosses did nothing to boost morale, they were too busy bitchin’ about what they had to do). Since the 3rd was a slow night, I did not have to worry about any bosses being around, checking in, or harassing us in anyway, so I ordered a bunch of pizzas and paid the man when he arrived (it was about $60. Considering I made over 2.5 grand (gross) in those two weeks (much more than a member of the crew would get because I was there from start to finish (and I made more than them)) it was nothing).

Sure the pizza was cold when they came back, but what did they care. Though, they would invariably ask where it came from. My response, “It just showed up around 11.” I have no clue if any of them believed it, but they were all too tired to inquire further. If they thought it came from the higher-ups that is great. Better for the company. I had no stake in this, it just felt good to do something for these guys.

Of course, if I really did not want recognition for this, then why am I telling you?

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