Archive for Grandma Secretary

Happy early César Chávez Day.

I have to file something with the Court on Monday, so I checked the Court Calendar to make sure it wasn’t a holiday. Don’t laugh – the Court recognizes holidays I’ve never even heard of. For instance:

Me: Huh! Who knew there was a César Chávez day?

Grandma Secretary, passing by: I forget; was he legal?

Me, with narrowed eyes and sarcastic tone: He was born in Arizona, so I assume he was legal, yes.

Grandma Secretary: Hey, the only reason you don’t mind the illegals is because you don’t work in a job area that they’re taking over.

Me: I’m sorry, do you work in one of those jobs?

Grandma Secretary: Yes! Some of the firms downtown hire hispanic legal secretaries because they can get them for $38,000!

Me: Are those secretaries illegal immigrants?

Grandma Secretary: Well, no, but –

Me: Then that’s completely irrelevant.

Grandma Secretary: But they’d have to pay a white or a black a lot more than that.

Me: So your issue isn’t with illegal immigration; it’s with wage discrimination against legal hispanic workers.

Grandma Secretary: Look, don’t try to tell me they’re not taking away jobs. When my husband worked construction a few years ago, he said there were no white faces there any more.

Me: Again, I’m going to have to go with, “not a statement about illegal immigration.”

Grandma Secretary: Well, if you think I’m racist, you should hear what my black friends have to say about it.

And with that she flounced out of my office.

Ever willing to spend my lunch hour doing research, I immediately hit the internet. If the problem is illegal immigrants taking jobs, then there must be plenty of Americans ready and waiting for those jobs, right? According to the LA Times, Colorado is now facing the consequences of that particular fallacy.

Ever since passing what its Legislature promoted as the nation’s toughest laws against illegal immigration last summer, Colorado has struggled with a labor shortage as migrants fled the state. This week, officials announced a novel solution: Use convicts as farmworkers.


[Farmer Joe] Pisciotta said he hoped the program highlighted what he viewed as the absurdity of Colorado’s position — dependent on immigrant labor but trying to chase migrants away. He said the people leaving were not just those who entered the country illegally.

“Some of them have said, ‘We think our paperwork is in order, but how about if it’s not and we get caught on a glitch,’ ” he said.

But for those unwilling to have felons pick their melons, it seems like a guest worker program would be a good option. Or maybe not, says the New York Times.

Labor experts say employers abuse guest workers far more than other workers because employers know they can ship them home the moment they complain. They also know these workers cannot seek other jobs if they are unhappy.


Critics, including many labor unions and immigrant groups, say employers exaggerate the labor shortage because they are eager for cheap, docile, temporary labor from abroad. The critics say there would not be such a shortage of American workers if employers offered a living wage for these jobs.

Huh. Maybe that’s the real problem, eh? Employers are unwilling to offer a living wage – never heard of that happening before.

Oh, but it’s so much easier to blame the brown people.


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Please cross whatever you have.

There has been a schism in Grandma Secretary’s firm. I’m not sure what went down, precisely, but I know it involves the female partner and the female associate packing up their briefcases and clearing out their offices. The day after they announced their imminent departure, the firm had their nameplates taken off of their doors. There are hushed rumours of lawsuits. Grandma Secretary has spent the last two days muttering “Jeezle Pete,” “Oh, Lordy,” and “I’m just gonna kill myself” in angry tones.

What does this mean for your Beloved Author? Well, there ought to be a little less yelling around here (once the initial chaos dies down), and, even better, two offices are being freed up.

See this?

Save me.

This is what comes of squeezing the paralegal (who also serves as secretary and office manager) into a space this big:


I mentioned to Lawyer that it might be a good idea to look into taking over one of the newly empty offices, and he agreed! It will only happen if we can get the price down a bit, though.

Wish on your nearest star for me, ‘kay? I could really use more room. And if it doesn’t work out, be prepared with your ropes and shovels. I might need some help clambering out of here.

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Ignore this, it’s whiny.

I am. Stressed. Out. Stress in the tightness of my jaw, and in the acid that leaps up from my stomach. Stress in the stutter as I correct and repeat myself, trying to say six things at once. I am easily startled; this morning, in a meeting, I nearly hit the ceiling when Murray* coughed behind me. I am needy and insecure. In this most social of seasons, I want nothing more than to hibernate with a stack of books and knitting.

Does this stress stem from:

1. Money issues?
2. Feeling overwhelmed at work?
3. Feeling underaccomplished as another year sputters and dies, leaving only a thin trail of smoke and the acrid smell of failure?

Why is it that when people wish me Happy Holidays, it feels like just another impossible thing I have to add to my to-do list?

Edited to add: Possibly the one thing that could make this day better has just occurred: Grandma Secretary’s loud, detail-filled discussion of her colonoscopy.

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Grandma Secretary on phone:

We don’t have anyone here right now who speaks Español.


Oh, your English is good! You know, if you dropped me in Mexico, all I could say is cerveza.


Oh, you’re from El Salvador?


Spanish-speaking countries

I’m just sayin’.

And while I’m just sayin’, I’m gonna say go read this post, by brownfemipower, about what’s happening in Oaxaca right now, and why you should care.

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Alert the press!

I would like you all to know that we, here at A Bird’s Nest, have come up with the solution to the Israel/Lebanon/Syria/Iran(/U.S./Britain/insert nation here) conflict.

Actually, to be strictly truthful, we have overheard the solution. It was Grandma Secretary who came up with it. And, you know, thank god for her trenchant political analysis, because without it, we could be in some serious trouble.

  • Step 1. Sterilize them.
  • Step 2. Give them Mexico.
  • Step 3. Peace!

Now, I’m not quite clear on who “them” is, in this particular case. I’m guessing it’s the Palestinians, because Grandma Secretary is nothing if not Modern, and sterilizing Jews is just so 1939.

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I am not the artist in the family.

Despite my supercrap skills in MS Paint, I have attempted to draw you a map of my office so that you could fully appreciate the pain I am about to describe.


So now you can see my exact location, directly across from Infantile, Harpy & Shrew, LLP, and just two cubes away from Grandma Secretary.

Thus far, I’ve been able to maintain a friendly relationship with Grandma S. She was our notary before I got my commission, and she’s helped me figure out the intricacies of probate filing. She’s talked about the days when she burned her bra, and she’s generally kinda crusty and funny, and before May 1st, I thought she was just fantastic. Even after that, I thought if we could just stay away from that subject, we could still be friends.

I have a bad habit of doggedly seeing the best in everyone, and refusing to admit the possibility that someone is Not A Nice Person until they absolutely shove my face in it.

Which has now happened.

Yesterday, Grandma S. was going on another tear about “illegals”. She has an attorney in her firm who is completely in accord with her on this issue, and the two of them were standing around by Grandma’s desk (see map) going onandonandonandonandonandon.

Poor Grandma S. Her son has to pay obscene rent in Santa Monica just so his kids can go to “a good” (read: white) school. Poor Attorney Friend. By the time her son gets to college, he’s gonna have to speak Spanish.

Ready? 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . .


The final straw for my strained-but-holding optimism was Grandma S.’s delightful segué, in which she said, “Well, did you hear about that Black congressman? The one who stole all that money?” Because, y’know, it’s totally logical to link illegal immigrants (or “Mexicans”, which is Grandma’s synonym for “illegal”) with a corrupt congressperson who happens to be Black even though the two issues are COMPLETELY UNRELATED.

This was the point at which I walked away to tremble and sputter with rage by Friend Secretary’s desk. She went over to my desk to listen, and came back looking pissed off.

I don’t handle these things gracefully. I wanted to go over there and say something, but I know myself well enough to know that whatever I said wasn’t going to be calm or polite or maybe even coherent. So I bit my tongue and instead went home and picked a stupid fight with Husband. As one does.

When I came in this morning, Friend Secretary told me that they had been talking shit again before I arrived. But she dealt with it beautifully. As she passed them on her way to the coffee room, she quietly but firmly said “Shut up.”

And I haven’t heard a word about it all day. Though Grandma S. did stop by to ask me if I was okay. “You’re so quiet today!”

I didn’t tell her it was because she’s not my friend anymore. But that’s why.

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