Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Across The Desk

I sat in the client's seat today.  I'm usually the one who solves problems.  I'm the one who sits in the seat of authority and dispenses wisdom.  People come to me.  I don't go to people.

But today I had some questions and Amster was the go-to-girl for answers.  I've seen her in gym shorts more often than I've seen her in lawyerly garb.  But today she was coiffed and dressed to the nines when I dropped by for conversation and a question or two.  Her office is a mom's office, with kid pictures and photos tastefully and obviously displayed.  She has fancy furnishings and a couple of big windows and the receptionist happily dispenses quarters for the meters outside.  The secretaries and paralegals greet me as I walk past their desks and Amster and I share a great big hug every time we greet one another so I've got a smile on my face and love in my heart before I sit in the visitor's chair. 

I've occupied that seat before, of course, because I've been in the office before.  But today I had a few questions to ask and suddenly I noticed a yellow legal pad and her trademark purple marker resting between her clasped hands as she leaned forward just enough but not too much and smiled.  I wasn't waiting for her to finish up so that we could go for sushi, nor dropping off Mr. 7 after his summer reading class, nor trying to entice her from her desk for lunch next door at Downtown Kitchen and Cocktails.  Nope, I was a client.

It felt great.  Safe, private, cordial and smart.  Very very smart.  She's a good listener, but I've known that for years.  She's also a good questioner, and that I did not know.  We've conversed, of course, and asked questions and answered them but this was different.  She was eliciting information while making me feel as if I could sit back in the chair and go with the flow.  I was in charge, but she was leading the parade.

There was nothing extraneous to the procession.  She was focused and so was I.  I'm older and usually think I'm wiser but every once in a while she reminds me of why I love her - she's an old soul and when she taps into that wisdom it's really something to behold.


We think we know our friends, having seen them at play and, sometimes, at work, too.  But watching her in court at some else's trial is not the same as sitting in the client's chair.  She was so facile, so confident, so non-threatening.....  if I hadn't been in the moment I'd have realized that I was proud of how accomplished she's become. 

I know she won't mind my sharing this story.  It's my favorite.  Amster makes lists.  There are lists of affirmations on her refrigerator and to-do-lists on her Blackberry and grocery lists and kid lists and packing lists and work lists and every once in a while she emails me that we have to do our rock climbing Groupon adventure because she's going through her lists and this is still on there.  It makes me smile.  But back to the story: I was in her office early in her tenure at the law firm, waiting to grab her for lunch.  She had just had her annual review, and, of course, she had made a list of the areas in which improvement could be made.  Number One on the list:  No more crying in the office.

One has to laugh.  And we did.  And we do.  But now there is no trace of that qualified but naive woman.  Sitting across from me is an accomplished professional, at one with her craft and loving every minute of it.  I marvel at her and she laughs and tells me I'm asking baby questions.  And I smile because she knows so much and has grown so much and no one loves her job more than she does.

I'm so glad she's in my life.... and happy to share her with all of you.

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