Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Dreaded All-Nighter

Fucking. the all-nighter.  I pulled more all-nighters in this stupid fucking job in my first year than I did during the rest of my life combined.  I was never the type to stay up all night studying for a test or preparing for something - better to be fresh and rested than not I say.  But what is up with staying up to wait around for bankers, to fix stray periods or, i love this one - to turn someone's hand-written comments.  I really don't get the point of this one.  If the comments are from a client, okay maybe fine. If it's from a senior associate who wants to "involve" you be saving a few minutes so he can write sloppy and shit so that he can send it to you rather than to word processing (read: he's a dick) or because he thinks that's just how it's supposed to be done (read: he's a retard), the whole thing is pointless.  I remember one time there was one person who gave me some comments on an agreement that were so messy I had to write them every few minutes to figure out what was written, and they'd just write it back in an email. At that point, isn't it just more efficient to write the damn thing into the document yourself?  Seriously.  The worst is when the person tells you to stay in the office, until they are done writing up their stupid comments, so they can hand it to you, only to find out at 3AM that they are not going to finish.  If there were an emoticon for shooting myself in the head, I would use it here.

Now, in my "sunset" years, I don't really have any different perspective on what made me stay late as a junior.  In fact, I still think it was all exceedingly retarded. Like, down syndrome jellyfish retarded. And I have those endearing memories into account when organizing my own team. I would advise anyone who does find himself or herself commanding the troops to cut them some fucking slack.  For example, whenever I can, I go out of my way to tell people to work from home if they want to, and to not leave people waiting for me to do things (when I was younger I even used to run closings from my living room couch, PS3 controller in hand, without telling the seniors, and lo' and behold, no one died - which is of course what some may have you think if you did such a ghastly thing). It is your job as a more experienced professional and the manager to not put people in that position.  Of course, there are still times when shit hits the fan and you end up again staying up, or have others stay up, but at least for me, now, it hasn't been the "waiting around" type - but actually working throughout the night / morning because of some deadline.  Now, whether or not these "deadlines" will really make you "dead" if you don't cross that "line" in time is another matter altogether.  And I should write something about managing clients and their ridiculously titanically unrealistic expectations at some point. Some point later.

Anyway, enough gripe. If you're ever in a situation where you have to be in the office until it's time to eat breakfast, or worse, lunch, or really fucked up, dinner, then there are a few things that i think really keep me sane and refreshed:
  • comfy shoes/slippers - ditch the dress shoes and keep some slippers under your desk, or just walk around in socks or your bare feet or on your hands with socks on your hands; who cares no one's around.
  • toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash - people make fun of my mobile pharmacy, but brushing after meals saves your teeth and freshens you up, washing your face is a great way to get a revitalization etc. even when you're not there late, i use these.
  • pillow/blanket - sounds sad, but if you can't go home, and want to crash somewhere, having a pillow and blanket so you can curl up on the floor is awesome. just like home. i also keep an eyemask in my desk for afternoon naps when i didnt sleep much the night before. nowadays, i use the pillow more around the 3PM time slot than anything else.
  • chat - if ur up all night waiting (and are not busy trying to burn down the office), take advantage of your free long distance and call up ur buddies in different time zones to help kill time and commiserate.
  • plan ahead - if you know you're gonna be late and can't help it, wear or bring some comfortable clothes to work.  i hate wearing work clothes, especially when i don't want to be at work. I now keep a cache of t-shirts and similar wear around for all sorts of 'emergencies'.
  • have fun - if u have to be up for something stupid like a pricing and everything's set but ur just waiting...have some fun rather than waiting around at ur desk like a chump. i used to grab beers and go out on the town while bankers haggled over price the whole night. it was thursday after all! depending on ur firm policy, u can probably bill this waiting time anyway. cha-ching.
  • go home - if you can, go home for a bit, shower and change and come back. don't tell anyone if you can, maybe you can even stay there. you can always say you went out to get something to eat and that you'll be back shortly. that tends to be the universal default acceptable excuse. (if you are the senior lawyer on the deal - i.e., no one directly managing you, i don't think there should really be any reason you should be in the office all night - but if there is a partner or senior team all in the office, this becomes more relevant.)
  • work remotely - if you are subordinated, and you have a nice senior, talk to them and see if you can get your work markup sent by email or just ask if there's anything you'd need to be in the office for.  come up with a better excuse than you just want to go home - like you're not feeling well, or your kid is not feeling well, or something. if you're lucky enough to have seniors that also like to work remotely, you can most likely be gone too. if you are more senior, just make sure you know how to work your remote tech. i once ran a closing from home - we had problems with our dial-ins but was able to conference relevant parties in on my blackberry - so no issues. 
Ultimately, though, the best is not be in the office at all and not have to do that all-nighter. understandably, sometimes you are at the printer and it's not "appropriate" for you to just get up and leave (i have done that though, when others are there, because really, how much gets done at the printer? - this is for another post). but i digress, sometimes u r too junior or too inexperienced to know how to avoid this ridiculously stupid concept. but if u r efficient enough, smooth enough with your seniors / clients, generally avoid cap markets, and just a little bit bold enough, i think you can get by without really having to do this - or at least, do it in a fun way.