Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Catching up on hot gossip: Friends & lunch & 1 bath a week in Australia

I used to work in a law office. Let me tell you about working in law offices. When you are constantly working under pressure to meet court-imposed deadlines, you get to know and trust your co-workers really well. Sometimes when there was a summary judgment brief due the next day or we needed to negotiate a big personal injury settlement immediately, working there almost resembled being in a foxhole during a war. And after years of us stomping out legal wildfires together, all of the staff who worked there became really close.

There were six of us on the staff, all women. And even though the office has been closed for almost a year, we all still make an effort to stay in touch. And today was the birthday of one of the members of our band of survivors from the legal wars, so we all trooped off to the fabulous Indian Palace all-you-can-eat restaurant on University Avenue in Berkeley and celebrated and caught up on everyone's hot gossip. We all sat at a large circular table and went around it one by one, reciting what we had been up to lately and getting caught up.

The Birthday Girl is now working for an employment law specialist in downtown Oakland. "And I'm going to visit my Latvian grandmother in North Carolina this weekend."

Next came the woman who used to specialize in family law cases. "My son is now one year old and last Saturday he took his first steps!" Yea. She passed around his photo, crucial evidence that she had won the baby lottery bigtime.

Next came our bookkeeper. "The firm that I currently work for is right in the middle of an annual audit and I've been so busy lately that I almost didn't get to come today." Whew! Then we helped ourselves to the buffet table. Lamb curry, chicken tamboori, eggplant marsala, rice pudding, naan, salad and chai.

Next came our probate paralegal's turn. "It's going to be a girl!" she announced. We all cheered. She was six months pregnant but still working on her doctorate at Cal. "I'd go out of my mind if I just had to stay home all day knitting booties," she laughed. And the baby apparently is just like her mom. "She moves around all the time and last night I swear that she had the hiccups!" Can in-utero babies even GET hiccups? Apparently they can.

Then the office's other family-law paralegal told us that she would be starting graduate school in the fall. And I of course told them all about my trip to Iraq and that I was about to become a grandmother again (I used to be the law office's specialist in writing personal injury settlement briefs. I could write a settlement brief that could make even the most hardened insurance adjuster break down and cry.) And then the Birthday Girl's friend, who had just gotten back from two weeks in Australia, told us all about her trip. "It should have been the middle of winter down there but it was as warm as summertime in Sydney. Global warming has hit Australia hard." Sydney is approximately the same distance from the equator as San Francisco and New York so it is NOT supposed to be warm there in the winter.

"And," the BG's friend continued, "they are suffering from a spectacular drought. In one town south of Sydney for instance the water rationing is so bad that a family of four is only allowed one bath a week!" One bath a week? Now THAT'S hot gossip!

"And it's illegal to wash your cars. If you get caught washing your car, you could go to jail. You are only rationed about ten gallons of water per person per day and they have just started using recycled sewer water. And nobody washes their dishes any more. Everyone uses paper plates." Good grief! Then all of us turned as one and asked the waitress to bring us some more water. Then I went home and took a hot bath. If this is gonna be the wave of the future, we had better start conserving water NOW! But first just let me finish watering the lawn....