I interviewed for my current job at the start of June. I remember then hearing from my future coworkers about how I might be wooed by vendors who would want my profitable copy jobs. Since I was a journalist for about two years before switching professions, I was well aware of people trying to sway me for their own intents and purposes. I made it perfectly clear in my interviews that I was not a person who was easily swayed, and the firm in return made it clear that it was ok if I was in respect to vendors.
You see, the kind of cases I work with are centered around boxes upon boxes upon boxes of documents, all of which must be copied and then recopied and then labeled and then recopied and then sent to opposing council only to be copied again. When asked what I do for a living, I often feel like I should reply, "I kill forests - daily. That’s what I do." My job, at least in part, depends on the number of documents I can create and then subsequently manage. Hence, the copy vendors are like moths to a flame.
I began to really understand the whole vender phenomenon during my first week as a paralegal. During week one, I was visited by Phillip, Matt and David - all whom promised me their undying devotion to my copy jobs (big or small) at of course the lowest price. I told them all, thanks for visiting but seeing as how I was so new, I had no jobs to send out yet. Pretty much, all my stuff could be handled in house. We ended our meetings with an exchange of business cards, a handshake and me promising to at least “give them a shot” with my next copy job.
The meetings were nice. I like chatting with people. The copy vendors all proved to be pleasant and at worst, mildly attractive. They also served as a nice distraction from all the office procedures being crammed in my brain. But while the meetings were nice, I came to really enjoy the little presents they would leave. I came into my office one day to find Otis Spunkmeyer cookies with a note from Nick with Loop Legal, saying to enjoy. I said to myself, “Nick, I don’t know who you are, but I will eat you cookies.” And I did. Later on that same week, I was sent a $5 Starbucks card and told to get out of the office and have a coffee on Ted and C2 Legal. I did. But the kick came that Friday when one of my fellow paralegals invited us out for a little happy hour celebration on his vendor. I left that happy hour five hours later feeling slightly buzzed and slightly full, yet having paid nothing. I promised the vendor I’ll call him right away when I got my first big copy job.
In meeting with vendors my first few weeks on the job, I didn’t care. My standard answer was always, “Thanks for coming in and meeting with me, but I haven’t had a need to send anything off yet.” Well, that all changed as of Tuesday. An attorney on one of my cases needed a copy set of all the relevant docs I pulled last week. Those relevant docs ended up being about four boxes worth of paper. In the world of litigation copy jobs, I knew that was not large by any means but I also knew it was too large to be done by the firm. A vendor, it was.
I grabbed my stack of vendor business cards, which up to that point had only served to occupy space on my desk. I flipped through them and began weighing my options. Nick did send me those yummy cookies a few weeks ago, but I barely remember him. There was the Starbucks card from Ted, but it was only $5. That hardly warrants my first copy job, which is likely to be 200 times that amount. The happy hour night certainly was very nice but the vendor seemed a little too salesman-like. I don’t like sales people, so I’m not going to purposely work with one.
In the end, I made my decision based on one thing. I chose Eric and I chose Eric for one simple reason. Eric looks very good in a suit. I like me a man in a suit. I always have, so needless to say, the image of Eric floated into my brain when picking a vendor.
Eric came into our office a few weeks ago wanting to meet with any of the new paralegals who could spare him a moment. I did. And when I met Eric (whom I called Nick at first - there are just too many of them) I noticed he was attractive. He wears nice suits. He does not wear a wedding ring. In chatting with him briefly, he didn’t seem too pushy, too vendor-like. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go with him. Well all that, and the suit. Now of course, if Eric returned my documents out of order, missing pages and covered in mud I might have to rethink using his services, but until that happens I might as well work with someone whom presents me good copies and good suits.
So what have I learned from this? I guess I am someone who is easily swayed - at least by a good looking man in a suit.