Patiently I waited. And waited. Weeks ago I’d requested an office meeting and here it was! Sixty seconds after its start though, my heart—if not my ass—-shot out the door. Voices spoke but I heard them not. I was, rather, replaying prior admonitions, earlier advice of others, all of which had urged “Get out.”

Small offices are collegial. Condensed time in comradery yields pleasure in relationships of people who would otherwise not have met. Proximity builds bonds which, although temporal, are strong.

That’s how I felt about this office…these guys…through it all…

A business is like family. People mix, personalities collide and though things tend to happen, the game goes on. It’s easier that way. Ours was no different. Five lawyers (4 Jews and an Italian, which, frankly, makes 5 Jews). Two held the lease and me? I was there on a handshake. For years we’d mix, collide and yes, a thing or two happened.

Like a few years back: tail end of the Jodi era. Not so subtly was it brought to my attention that an office mate, just one door down, had, was, and continued to be up close and personal with my future former girlfriend. Ouch.

“You need to get out of there,” said Burnside to deaf ears.
“It’s a blessing, “ I said, sensing relief. “Now I know and NOW I can move on.”
That wasn’t good enough for Dennis.
.”Well, at least can I beat him up?” he asked.

Time passed and the office survived, even when they raised my rent. 50%.

“This isn’t right,” I told them. (It was late ’08 and the world being what it was, rents were flattening all over Chagrin).
“Just pay it when you have it. You can owe.” they told me. “We’re all friends.”

I sat with Weiskopf this time. And Jacobson.

“I’d get out of there,” said Ed, (never a peacemaker).
“Bogie,” said Michael, “You need to do what’s best for you.”

What’s best for me? All things considered, I liked it there. It was a primo location, right in my wheelhouse: a minute from home, a moment from Corky’s. After all, I reminded, we were “all friends.”

That, alas, was two years ago. This last biennium one of my landlords, caught in litigation, asked that I take his case.  A personal matter, it was also a major matter.

“I need to charge you,” I cautioned. “’ Can cut you some slack, but—
“”No need to go there,” he interrupted. “I need someone.  I trust you.”

Time passed and his matter, like all good things, came to an end. Oh, he paid along the way of course…here and there…but the moment the gavel pounded the payments stopped. On a dime. To this day he owes money…difference-making money.

In December I approached him. Did he know, I wondered, how unique he was…how rare it was that someone actually owed ME money….real money?

“Could we just credit the rent?” I asked my co-landlord. “It’s not up to me,” he mumbled. And so it was that Monday afternoon at 2:45 we had a meeting. And that sitting there amongst my friends, the other landlord spoke:

“Bruce, it’s nothing personal. It’s all about the numbers. You should be happy we don’t raise your rent. Please, we’re all friends here.”

In that split second I thought of the pal that promised me a movie and the crony that assured me three rooms for three nights in Vegas and…instantaneously I realized AGAIN there’s nothing valiant about burying one’s head in the sand— there’s no splendor in the green grass of naivety.

When, oh when am I going to learn?

In that instant I wanted so much to turn to the guy that owed me—the smiling receivable sitting there quietly —I wanted to turn to him like my father would have and said “Monkeys should fly out of your ass!” But I didn’t. I wanted to say something sarcastic like “No problem..we’re all friends. But I didn’t. I was a gentleman.

“Do you want the door open or closed?” I asked, rising at 2:46.
“You can leave it open,” one said (as I closed the door on an era).

(God, of course, has a great sense of humor. For months there’d been scheduled an office night at the shvitz—set for this Thursday the 24th. (Last night). On Wednesday David approached me–mid afternoon.

“You’re still going tomorrow, aren’t you?” he asked.  “David,” I said softly, “ I love you, really, but monkeys should fly right out of your ass”).

It’s been four days and no one gets near me. You can hear a pin drop.

It matters not.

Cut a new deal yesterday…new office. The landlord’s a bit older, a decent enough guy—and he does divorce work. The best news is, though…the best news is…he’s no friend.

My move is mid-March and I’m excited. New home, nice location…maybe I’ll get a website up….can’t wait!  Taking my files with me, and my smile, and my dignity.  Oh yeah—and my receivable.

2 Responses to “THE OFFICE”

  1. Marc says:

    It’s for the best-good luck in the new office

  2. Aunt Helen says:

    I love the new location.

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