Goodbye emails from ancient US partners

They make me laugh every time. They are written to the entire firm. This is both lovely and ridiculous. They betray a serious misunderstanding of people's line of sight and relative importance.

They are usually titled something like "Farewell and Warmest Thanks - Ride the Rhino" and read something like this

Dear Friends

I am sure you are all aware that tomorrow sees my retirement from the practice of law after nine decades all of which has been spent at Shitflaps.  You may know that but even your combined intellect cannot fathom how deeply I have enjoyed the many attributes of this most unique place.

When I stepped into the Law Offices of Harold D "Windy" Shitflap in Arkansas in 1936, I was bearing the bruises of a difficult summer representing the United States at the Munich Olympics. Those tribulations in the glare of the Fuhrer himself turned out to be an excellent preparation for my time working for Windy.  As the business grew, so did my desire to work across the broad sweep of countries our business was growing into and so I distanced myself from Windy.  After the War I enjoyed years working in Paris France,  Edinburgh in Scotland in England, and in Germany itself, near Rome. I developed a wonderfully broad range of languages, friends and multicultural relationships, and taught them all about how America had already conquered the many democratic challenges that they were grappling with and, frankly, making a terrific mess of. I told them this was largely to do with the fact that they had not resolved the issue of how to manage people from the South.

Then in 1951 I was fortunate enough to be asked to return to Arkansas on the death of Windy, to head up the newly merged firm of Shitflap Gaseous Excreta which was making inroads into the market. While managing the many brilliant Americans in our global firm I maintained my practice in the leisure sector and acted for many proud American institutions including Hugh Hefner whose parties were second to none.  How fondly I recall the Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Proceedings in which we acted in relation to a really quite interesting albeit esoteric point...[continues for 9 pages]. That's life, as Sinatra sang.

No firm can match the strength, depth, breadth, width, headth, feadth, nedth, sedth and, let's just come out and say it, crystal medth of Shiftlap Gaseous. Yes we've had our ups and downs and side moves and let's not forget the Incident. God rest his soul and the missing parts. But nobody does it like Shitflap.  Dang no sir.  Quality quality quality - that's what clients say they want. And what do we give them?  Well it depends how much they pay, doesn't it.  As we say at Shiftlap it's nether a tary or a nary that makes a wary man hairy.

But above all my friends it is the culture I love above all things.  I know that wherever I go in the world, there's going to be someone in that town who has worked with Shitflaps who can say "Hell yeah, I know Don. Everybody knows Don" and give me that look. And when he walks down my Main Street in my town I will return the gesture. You don't get that at Latham & Watkins now, do ya?  And you don't get the rainbow slides and the rhino buckaroo rodeo either. And I've ridden that rhino baby. So I say to you, ride the rhino. It's wonderful like you all.

Yours, ever

J. Don Ronson Puberty III

 

 

Then everyone replies all with stuff like "Yeah Don!  You've always been the reason I come into work.  I can honestly say that this place is gonna ache like a boner without you here".

then

Sorry, I realise this email was sent to all. Please accept my apologies if you are offended by my boner. Go Pubey.

 

Then someone who hasn't read the email properly says "I'd just like to add my condolences to the family of Don in this difficult time".

 

heh!

though tbh mutters i only bothered up to the third para, but i’m sure the rest is just as good

"No firm can match the strength, depth, breadth, width, headth, feadth, nedth, sedth and, let's just come out and say it, crystal medth of Shiftlap Gaseous."

I am going to find a way to use this in my next briefing.

hehehe the crystal meth made me laugh too!

and the obit comment

v v good, Mutters. 

Heh (but 1936 Olympics were in Berlin unless that was part of the stick) 

Oh yeah so they were but Berlin / Munich it’s all Belgium right 

Nice one, Mutts - you're almost as funny above as you used to be, but we'll make allowances for old age now... wink

Give a man a break. I am ill. 
the extent of my prior funniness has been entirely misremembered. 

No one could expect Shitflaps to live up to British Spaz.

It came close enough to raise a smile and prompt a post though.

Cheers and hope you're on the up soon.

The endless reply all emails are hilarious. 
 

Dear Friend Don

On behalf of the central west north offices in the Americas region can I please add my ringing endorsement to all that’s been said yadda yadda yadda yes darling just let me finish this stupid thing will you then I’ll attend to the carport door.. ah ..Wendy just put the usual in here and send Don and Betty some of those muffins we had left over from the blind dog drive but charge it to his run off account ok? Don’t forget that. Runoff account. 

 

Dear all

me again!!
Thank you. No, really, thank you. All of my dear sweet friends. No I really love you all. And if you’re ever in Doom, Arkansas, then please come visit. Call me first maybe. Betty-John would appreciate that. No, seriously. Call first, yeah?

Don’t make me go. Please. I’m begging you now. There’s a reason you haven’t met Betty-John. 

I was despairing of ever finding another funny and well written thread on here, but this is one of them.

You missed Muttley's comments on the Mishcon bundle thread regarding the submissions to the Supreme Court of Aiden O'Niell QC QC, some of the funnest stuff I've seen on here in decades. 

We scraped the cheeks of the highest billing private equity partners and grew this in an agar medium at room temperature and the results were most interesting, were they not, Svenis?

Yes master Mengele, most interesting.

Shut up with your repetition, Svenis. In 14 days we grew a complete penis, 9 inches long, mit foreskin of course. Svenis, pass the jar.

Wrap up warm chap, those extremities aren’t getting any easier to service . Ooh and indeed er.

Is Melvin Bragg introducing a programme in cross species mating or am I now in the final phase?

Heh.

I think my fave was when some chap from Chicago left at mid assoc level - the traditional weeping "I have learned so much from the best lawyers in the galaxy and you will always be my family" schmaltz.

His mate replied "I can't believe you're leaving me working in this shythole man, last man standing, FML!!!!!".

Yes ladies and gents (and persons of gender fluidity), he replied to all...

heh

"Don’t make me go. Please. I’m begging you now. There’s a reason you haven’t met Betty-John. "

I want the 9 pages about the chapter 11, please.

Best post on ROF in a while, this.

This has made my day

 

Can you please turn this into some sort of blog where you post "emails" from turds like this. 

OK, mutters.  You are occasionally as funny as you used to be.

Has anyone said "kudos" yet?

Heh.

My former US shop had a bit of a ledge 89 year old partner who clearly didn't give a shit

89yo: Are you a naughty boy?

Junior Partner: Erm...

89yo: I am.

 

Heh, one place I worked had an office in Bahdiddlyboink, Idaho.  At some conference I got chatting to an IT guy from there over a beer or several.  He said that one famous partner in that office, Chet Twicenightly III, 80 years old and employee number ID 0007, was a rabid porn freak.  They had to replace his (un) PC every couple of months because he filled it with so much grot and resulting malware it was a threat to the insurance.  Management didn't care cos he billed about 20 lions or more.

We had a geriatric partner at one of my (non American) firms. He used to scream at secretaries if he saw them getting into the lifts - “use the goods lift, there are lawyers who need to use these!”  There was a whole book of his scathing letters to various headhunters, lawyers and regulators  

also was at a dinner last night when I sat next to a former senior partner & head of the ag property practice of a country English firm. He would have been well into his 80s. I now know the ins and outs of the Althorp file in extensive detail. Every time his (Nokia 3210) phone beeped with a text message he thought someone was calling and tried to answer the phone and wondered why there was no response. 

Getting old - it happens to us all. 

'No firm can match the strength, depth, breadth, width, headth, feadth, nedth, sedth and, let's just come out and say it, crystal medth of Shiftlap Gaseous'

That is the first thing on this site that actually made me laugh out like loudly, proper lol absolute TT performance

Hey Boo. Is that you from way back or are my antibiotics kicking in?

funny thing, comedy writing. Sometimes it’s not the finely crafted gag that gets the click. The crystal medth thing was me just running out of funny and doing a little free jazz. 
 

I need to be infuriated by my colleagues to write funny. Tragic that.

I do not have any experience of US firms. I am not of that calibre.

However, my cousin who is, was partner for a New York firm (a City firm that was asorbed.) He one told me the story that one of the NY partners returned home in the early hours from the Manhattan office to his home in Westchester Countty to find that his wife had changed the locks and gone away. 

I asked him “So what did he do?” He replied “I am told  he called up a cab and went back to work.”

If she’d changed the locks and was inside saying fuckoff then that’s one thing, but changing the locks and going away seems odd. I would have broken in, drunk the wine, relaxed and thought about it all a bit. 

"Go Pubey". So many hehs in this e-mail.

Get better soon Mutts.

Where did we find that bloke called Pubert, mutters, I forget.  

Great stuff guys. 

Much better than your wildlife-themed threads Muttley. 

You say you know somebody called Pubert, Wang and I admire you and him for that.

 

this is not to be confused with J. Don Ronson Puberty III who is real. 
 

imitation is the greatest form of flattery old chap

“use the goods lift, there are lawyers who need to use these!” 

Heh. That has to be some sort of classic 

I love:

"to head up the newly merged firm of Shitflap Gaseous Excreta which was making inroads into the market"

Poor Perkins! His whole livelihood is sandbagged into that little waterlogged building, and we’re sitting here laughing at his name.

No secretary ever invited me to use her goods lift, but I fondly remember the time a recruitment lady did.

Since you move it into this territory 
 

what so we make of today’s news that the McDonalds boss had to go, despite good financial performance, because he had a relationship in the office? Clear breach of firm policy. Good to see rules applied to all - tone from the top etc - or are things out of hand now, such that good business people are being turfed out because of blanket conduct principles?

Many firms in the London market now have a #metoo / personal conflict provision in the code of conduct requiring people to report the existence of a relationship to the department managing partner. How do we know the truth is being told and what is a restionsip? What do you report? I had a drink with x ... one thing led to another...

seems simpler to keep away from the goods lift 

 

 

 

 

 

Things are thoroughly out of hand when someone’s career can be brought to an end by a consensual relationship with a colleague. Thoroughly out of hand. Such relationships used to be commonplace and; in the overwhelming majority of cases, did no harm.

The modern habit of acquiescing to this by going “oh, well that’s the way things are nowadays - he (it’s usually men who fall victim to this, but not always) should have known better” are just enabling and apologising this shift in our society towards a censorious, prudish landscape of unaccountable triggerings and baseless witch-hunts.

I’d accept that, once the die was cast, it would be ridiculous of this guy to try to stay on having broken a workplace policy that he, as CEO, was responsible for. Too late to cry over spilled milk in his case, but the thing to lament is that we now live in a society where companies and their leaders believe such policies, backed by disciplinary penalty, are either necessary or wise. 

Perkins owns an NHS dental practice in Oldham. He will comfortably out earn a sizeable proportion of rof. I think he’ll be alright. 

I have a suspicion I am not the only one on this thread who hooked up with their other half at work. 

I remember fondly going in to her office and typing poocheese randomly in whatever doc she was typing.  Hopefully there are still run off schemes out there with this in.

I would never make a pass at anyone at work and if a woman did to me I would report to HR immediately

I used to work in open plan.  Between the desk rows there were those large steel doc cabinets which effectively created corridors between units of open plan deskspace. Inevitably these became the pausing point for discussion. You lent against the cabinet and leaned over and talked to someone in the row who was facing you. Othewise you had to go into the open plan space and disrupt people.  I was doing that, trying with my back to the "corridor" through which people were milling and talking to a guy in my team, and at that point the Chief of Staff to the GC came by and stood behind me, then she put one hand on each of my buttocks and her chin on my shoulder and squeezed, and whispered "how's you?" into my ear, with a second squeeze. If there had been an old fashioned hooter it would have sounded, errrr-errrr.  

I was appalled. That ghastly grammatical construction alone should have been enough to permit immediate death. But as to the lesser charge of indecent assault, I just said "only my wife gets to do that thanks very much" and frowned she said "shame" then swaggered away.

Some time after that she took a new job in a far away country.

Anyway, I didn't escalate it at the time but I did reflect on whether that was a mistake that let others down.  Should I have made a fuss about it to make it ok to complain about that sort of conduct? My reaction was to sense that I had maintained poise and control (despite the wincing buttocks and shudder)  and she had been told where to go so all was sorted. However, I think I'd behave differently now.

Whenever you see these stories about CEOs having to resign due to consensual relationships, you always get people chuntering on about how me too has gone too far etc. The thing is

- this guy was the CEO of a company that had a policy. Not too difficult for him to (a) change the policy or (b) find someone else for him to date

- think about the implications of him dating someone at work. Who is she? How is she treated by her colleagues? How does her line manager manage performance issues? What happens if he breaks up with her? Or her with him? 

- you guys have seen the law firm culture of partners going after trainees etc. Do you think that’s a healthy culture? Do you really understand how it feels that as a 21 year old men in their late 30s/early 40s (if you’re lucky) thinking you’re an appropriate match?

in summary, I think these are valid things to think about. And workplace rules on relationships where one party is in a significant position of power are totally different from what Wang is describing with his wife. I don’t have a problem with there being restrictions on some types of dating in the workplace. If you don’t like it, then leave! 

 

Ps mutters the double bum grope is actually pretty appalling. I would have felt really violated if i had been the gropee (and assuming the groper wasn’t a proper personal friend)

pre-the PS, nicely put. I agree with that.

 

I did actually feel violated. She was no friend of mine. We did work a lot together but I always thought she was dodgy and that was her confirming it.  Double buttock squeeze made me clench in a way that has yet to loosen, some ten or so years on. I should have shouted out much louder "HEY YOU FILTH BAG DON'T GROPE MY BACKSIDE" but in fact I went with the more English "only my wife gets to do that".

But I was really horrified. I did reflect on the fact that this was the first (and only) time that this had ever happened to me and that for a lot of women it is a more frequent and utterly unpleasant thing. There is nothing pleasurable or welcome about that.

TC, most of the issues you raise in your second box are in “who cares” territory tbh. Romance is more important than work, people should be able to date who they want. I agree with your first bullet on the facts of the particular case. As for the third bullet, in defending workplace courtship one assumes it is conducted within the bounds of both decency and moreover the law. If not, we have sufficient tools to deal with it, without forcing people who meet their match at work to change jobs fgs. The love that dare not speak its name!

Muttley- so you fucked her then? Good lad.

TC, most of the issues you raise in your second box are in “who cares” territory tbh

spoken like someone who has never managed teams of people. All of whom care very deeply about this stuff. 

Mutters - I would definitely say something about something like that if it happened to me these days. Totally unacceptable. Doubt I would have as a young un tho - which is exactly the problem isn’t it?

I’ve only briefly been a line manager, it’s true. You know what law firms are like - nobody’s even nominally given management responsibility until they’re a partner and then all lines are drawn to some poor stooge who’s nominated as “HR partner” or - worse! - head of department because (s)he wasn’t at the relevant meeting.

I’ve led and mentored plenty of more junior people though and been a sounding board for their views on the organisation and life generally. 

"been a sounding board for their views on the organisation and life generally"

"so you fucked her then? Good lad."

 

Uh-oh spaghetti-oh

 

No, I did not. she was a revolting lech.

"been a sounding board for their views on the organisation and life generally"

"so you fucked her then? Good lad."

 

Uh-oh spaghetti-oh

 

No, I did not. she was a revolting lech.

Are you in some way implying that I would not have performed well in my role as coach, mentor and deal team leader? If so what are you basing that on?

I wasn't implying anything. I was deducing from your two statements - one being to egg me on to shag a work colleague and the other being a statement of how you'd mentored people through the journey of worklife - that the latter may be regarded as iffy given the former.

oh right 

there may have been an element of internet flippancy in the former

Heh.  I had assumed that was going to be the mighty Peter Kunzlik 

I joked with an Afrikaner guy I know (needed to change the subject from rugby) about Flaps van der Merwe, and it turns out he used to know him!