Goodbye, Bridgeport

April 23, 2010

Goodbye, Bridgeport

For two years and eight months I have had a marvelous job, working with teenagers in Bridgeport, representing them on a vast array of legal matters, fighting intransigent systems that refused to serve needy kids as well as they deserved, and maybe even changing a few people’s lives for the better. To start from scratch, knowing nothing about the city and precious little about the areas of law, was a worthwhile challenge and I feel I took it on well. Mostly, I had lots of fun. My clients made me laugh and inspired me, and every day, tired though I may have been, I was satisfied that I had done something good and worthwhile.

Unfortunately, this job was burdened with the twin encumbrances of an hour-long commute and a genuinely, famously difficult boss. In the winter, it became, at times, a two- or two-and-a-half- hour trip – each way, and in all seasons my boss was, well, awful. Once, after a performance review that was basically all positive (cases going well, lots of success in my systemic advocacy, good publicity for our scrappy non-profit, etc.), she turned angrily to the fact that I HAD A TWITTER ACCOUNT. IN MY OWN NAME. AND SOMETIMES I MENTIONED DRINKING BEER ON THERE, AND OH MY GOD, WHAT IF MY TEENAGE CLIENTS SAW IT. IT WAS SO INAPPROPRIATE. Never mind that we had had a whole half-day seminar from fancy New York media consultants who said we should use social media to develop contacts and put forth a certain persona, which I was carefully doing and which resulted in my being the featured guest on an hour-long local radio show – the point was that TWITTER IS TOTALLY UNPROFESSIONAL. My boss concluded by saying, “I would fire you if you weren’t such a good lawyer.” Um, OK.

So when there was an opening in a public defender’s office near home, I jumped. I could ride my bike to work. I would be out from under the miserable boss. It seemed like a no-brainer. But as the date drew near, I started to fill with melancholy, thinking about Bridgeport and my relationships there. After my last appointment on Thursday, I even spent half an hour just driving around the East Side, feeling strangely in love with that downtrodden town.

Luckily, my boss went out of her way to remind me why I’m happy to leave: First, she decided that even though our employee handbook says we get all our vacation at the beginning of the year and the term “pro-rated” never appears anywhere, my unused vacation days would be paid out on a pro-rated basis – resulting in a loss of nearly $1000 for me. Then, when I wrote a detailed, polite, lawyerly e-mail to her and the Deputy Director explaining with the employee handbook supported my position, she suddenly told me I couldn’t handle an appeal she’d promised me I could hold onto after leaving – a potentially law-changing case that I really busted my ass on, both at the trial court level an on the appellate brief.

So I started my new job today feeling about as optimistic as a person can feel. I suppose I’ll write more about that later, but suffice it to say, it’s a nice change for many reasons.

For now, some photographs of Bridgeport:

Bridgeport

Waterview Auto Sales, Bridgeport, Conn.

Waterview Auto Sales, Bridgeport, Conn.

Main Street, Bridgeport

Remington Arms Factory, Bridgeport, Conn.

Bridgeport Train Station

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3 Responses to “Goodbye, Bridgeport”

  1. Anon to Public said

    The whole exasperation over Twitter is amusing to me because one of my bosses has an account, in his own name, and posts all kinds of things. He reads my blog regularly and has one of his own.

    But at my other job, something I posted on my blog that was paying a compliment to that institution caused a veritable storm of poo when a higher up with questionable literacy skills skimmed it and thought that I was acting out of line. The post remains, unchanged. I informed this person, in no uncertain terms, that she would not request that a newspaper remove an article from its website, so there was no sense in asking for something to be removed from a blog when it was true (there was a photo showing exactly what I was writing about at the time).

    People are dopes about new media.

    Congrats on the new job.

  2. Your mother's ex said

    Great photos.

    You will make your new employers grateful for hiring you.

    She’ll never admit it to anyone, but your old boss will regret driving you away and removing you from the case.

  3. Alice said

    That first photo is stunning.

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