Too Much Pressure


Swithers handed me a transactional contract to draft from a term sheet on a Monday morning and ordered it to be completed and on his desk by midday Thursday at the latest. I placed it on his desk at 11.59 a.m. on the Thursday and heard no more for nearly a week until he called me into his room to talk down at me.

“When I said midday Thursday, I meant the contract had to be with the client by then,” he snapped with a lace of vitriol.

“That’s not what you told me.”

“Well, it’s what I meant.”

“You should say what you mean then.”

“Stop answering back,” he replied in a clipped tone. “It remains the case that, due to YOUR error, the contract is late. Now go away, correct it and send it to the client and apologise for your mistake.”

He gave a caustic stare. I ignored the barb, remained outwardly impassive and looked straight through him. Hate was not a strong enough word for how I felt. I turned and walked away with calm anger.

The fifteen page contract had a grand total of two commas marked in red pen, so I sent the corrected contract to the client shortly afterwards with the stipulated apology. A few days later, there was an evening out with the same client, an international bank, at a local wine bar. At least it got me out of the office. The in-house lawyer I had sent the contract to thanked me for some excellent drafting. Another partner of Jemunt was listening into the conversation.

“I take it you were the partner on that contract,” the client said.

“No, it’s just the impression he gives. He is not a partner at this firm,” Eavesdropper butted in.

“Who is then? Not him over there?” The client asked, jerking his head toward Swithers.

“Yes, he’s the partner,” Eavesdropper confirmed.

The client gave a wide eyed, disbelieving look and shook his head. I laughed. Eavesdropper studied his expensive shoes.

One morning later that week, I arrived at work after another late night and exited the lift to find my three favourite partners talking in the corridor. Wagstaffe had his back to the lift and, as I approached, I heard part of the conversation.

“He can do the work, but he’s just not one of us…” he fell silent as I walked past and gave a deceptively cheerful “Morning.” They turned around. Not one of them looked me in the eye. Despite their belittling, I still believed in my ability. This lot clearly had issues with me, but I refused to be broken. And I took it as a compliment they disliked me.

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