Monday, September 19, 2011

$0.02 [Pets at Work]

I'm a junior lawyer at a big New York law firm.  That just means that I work a lot.  I spend more time in an office on the 32nd floor of a building in Midtown East than I do in my apartment in Brooklyn.  My office:

It has a lovely view of the East River, yes, but work is missing three keys to happiness:  Betelgeuse, Lulu, and Lola.

Last spring, I was offered a job at another New York law firm.  It would have meant more money and even more hours (where those hours would have come from on any given day remain a mystery to me since I feel like I am working at capacity now).  But in any event, when I informed the partners in my practice group (i.e., my bosses) of the offer, they actually wanted me to stay (i.e., a nice surprise).  They couldn't offer me more money since my law firm has lockstep compensation -- meaning that all associates in any given class year make the same amount, and all partners in the firm make the same amount.  They couldn't really offer me anything, actually, other than just being a nicer place to work, which was enough for me.

Once I had already turned down the offer, I joked to one of my bosses that I should have negotiated to be able to bring my dogs to work a few times a week.  He informed me that animals are not permitted in the building (which I already knew, having inquired about it before, duh).  And then he said, "I really hope that you would have used your leverage to get more than just the ability to bring your dogs to work."

The record in my brain skipped.  More than being able to hang out with the pups all day while I work?  What on earth is worth more than that -- more money?  Like I said, they can't do it.  A guaranteed track to partnership?  No thank you.  Better work?  My work is awesome.  Nicer office?  You saw the view.  No, nothing he could give me would be worth more than being with them at work (not to mention the well documented benefits of pets in the workplace -- e.g., see here and here).   In fact, I would even take a pay cut to be able to bring them to work.*  I should have told him that just to watch his mind get blown.

But to be fair, he hasn't met them.  He doesn't know how cute they really are:

I kid.  Meeting them wouldn't change his mind.  He has never had a pet in his life, and so we remain on opposite sides of a wide chasm.  You often hear about the differences between dog people and cat people, but the real separation is between animal people and non-animal people.  To an animal person, a non-animal person is absurd, unthinkable.  And I cannot imagine how ludicrous I must seem to someone who has never had a pet.  I might as well be a naked subway walker or something.  That might even seem more rational, actually.

So just plants at work for the foreseeable future.  That is, unless I change jobs or get an office fish.  It's meta.

* I've thought in the past about having Betelgeuse and Lulu certified as psychiatric service dogs, and then they'd be allowed everywhere -- work, stores, restaurants, trains, planes, boats, etc. -- but I don't really want to be branded as certifiably crazy in that I must have my dogs with me or I will freak the eff out.  I'm sure that would go over really well at work.  But then again, those "Don't Pet me, I'm Working" vests that service dogs wear are awfully adorable.

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