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  • jeniferfoster2

The moment I decided to move on...

Updated: May 31, 2023

Have you ever had a moment in your life when you just knew that you had to make a major change? I did. I can tell you the exact moment I decided I was quitting my job.

I’ve actually had moments like this several times in my life. I remember when I was working at one former job, I went on vacation. While on vacation I had a dream that I was screaming at my boss. I knew then that I had to quit. Three weeks later, I did.

Actually, this time wasn’t vastly different – I, again, was on vacation. Sort of. I was actually in Roatan, Honduras for a month doing my divemaster training. Now, if you aren’t a diver, you may not have any idea what that entails (actually – many divers won’t know either). Anyway – the month is pretty intense. One of the first things you have to do are timed swim tests. Interestingly, the month before I came to do divemaster, I had been ridiculously busy at work, and was travelling six hours one day every week to see my father. So, I had not been in swimming in almost a year. I am a strong swimmer, but not fast. I was terrified of these swim tests. (I passed on the first go, thankfully). The month also consisted of online classes and quizzes, in-water skills and assessments, and a final exam I had to pass. The last two weeks consisted of being at the dock at 7 a.m. (I was actually really lucky, because my fellow divemaster intern had to be there at 6 a.m.). I had to sweep, load (air/nitrox) tanks on to the boats, and clean out the soaking tanks. I then ran and ate breakfast, to be back ready to go on the boat at 8:30 a.m. The day consisted of being a safety diver on two boat dives, and usually doing two or three additional dives. I was still doing some counseling at night. Now, don’t get me wrong, I had a blast over the month, but it was hard; intense; stressful.

Unfortunately, I had my very first (real) appellate brief due midway through the month. In fact, it was due the same exact day I was scheduled to take my dive exam. I am a fairly good planner. I knew that the divemaster training was going to be busy, and so, my brief was 98% ready to go before I left for Roatan. I needed to do two more administrative things prior to filing, which a colleague offered to do for me. I won’t bore you with the details, but because of these tasks, the brief was not fully ready to be filed UNTIL the day it was due.

I was ready. I got up at 5 a.m. (Roatan was two hours behind DC, which was where I was filing). I electronically filed it. I was done! I was thrilled! I had been working on this brief for months. Three students had helped write it. I had gone through approximately fifteen drafts. The first draft was 50 pages! I whittled it down to 20. A LOT of work had gone into this Brief. It was partially the reason why I was so busy prior to leaving.

That day, I came back at 1 p.m. in the afternoon, and checked my email. The court had rejected my filing! Details are unimportant, but it was 100% minute details I had missed. I was floored. Anxiously, I quickly emailed my colleague for help. She didn’t understand what the court needed and couldn’t help. I did some quick research, figured out the problem and fixed the brief, and refiled it. It was 2:45 p.m.! 15 minutes before 5 p.m. in DC. That was Friday. Directly after this, despite my protestations that I should postpone taking my dive exam, I took it (and passed, thank goodness).

I woke up at 5 a.m. Monday morning. After drinking my morning coffee, I checked the docket. The court had rejected my filing again! They said I filed late. Now they required me to file a Motion to file late! (If you aren’t in the legal arena, you may not know – but, a Motion is a (usually written) formal request to the court. Generally, you have to give reasons for your request and provide authority in the law for why the court should do what you are asking. They often require research. They also require that you contact the opposing party to determine if they’ll consent to what you are requesting).

Luckily for me, the opposing attorney consented. I still had to research and write the Motion. It wasn’t hard, but I had little time, since I was on the dive boats for large parts of the day. I filed it Tuesday, but the court rejected it, again for administrative reasons. I filed the Motion again. They finally accepted (and thankfully granted) it.

But, I knew it was over. I had enough. I was DONE. Finished. Kaput. I was so disenchanted. If I struggled so much, how would someone who was struggling with significant stressors in their life ever expected to be able to accomplish what should be a fairly simple task? After all the insanity and difficulty of the pandemic, and the court was going to create such a headache? Where is justice when the process of trying to file something is so cumbersome? This asinine process just left me so frustrated and exhausted by how unnecessary all of it is, and just wanted nothing to do with it anymore. Nothing. Something I had once found so much interest and joy just left me cold.

I knew I was done. I came back to DC two weeks later, and I quit my first day back at work. It was the second time in my life I ever quit a job without having something specific lined up (the first time, I was 19 and dealing with an asshole boss). I gave almost two months of notice. Ultimately, I didn’t fully leave when I intended. I continued to work part time for six more months after they asked me to. But, filing that Brief broke my joy for the law and the legal process. I don’t know whether I’ll get it back – but, right now – I can’t imagine wanting to do anything less. I do wonder what happened in that case – but, c’est la vie. The fish never make me jump through hoops.

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