Alan McBeal is a trainee at the fictional law firm Lovelaters & DAlliance. All the events are made up (honest).
Eager to crack on I arrived for my first day at Lovelaters & DAlliance fifteen minutes early. This meant awkward small talk over orange juice and sandwiches a rookie mistake. Provided youve basic social skills, this shouldnt really pose a problem. But unfortunately, Ive never mastered the whole eat with one hand whilst simultaneously talking, drinking and holding a plate technique. There are too many variables for the male brain to cope with, especially on your first day at work. I remember being paralysed by the fear of covering someone in dip.
Now heres a tip – juggling hunger, cutlery and social niceties over a buffet lunch is a key career skill. Ignore it at your peril.
My first day started with a series of presentations about Lovelaters. As graduate recruitment gathered, I sought anonymity by sitting three rows from the back of the room with half a plate of sandwiches. The subject of the presentations was client service and the firms corporate values but theres also the subtext. I read the implicit message as: Youre a trainee. Know your limits. Dont get above yourself. Dont balls up.
As indoctrinations went, it was less A Clockwork Orange, more a Terrys chocolate orange hard to get into and slightly sickening. Fifty years of work – that was the sickening part.
Following the presentations we all headed to a local pub. I ordered a pint of bitter and some scampi fries. Being a Northerner this was a normal order for me – however, being in London, it did dawn on me that scampi fries are probably for ironic pub d?r purposes only and, in any case, arent exactly ideal when meeting new people.
The first flash point of my training contract, a nearby posh girl passed comment. Standing my ground – I shrugged it off, smiled suggestively and silently resolved to wipe my hands surreptitiously on her jacket. I subsequently resisted the sore temptation to do so.
After the A Clockwork Orange indoctrination followed the Full Metal Jacket style boot camp three days of financial services tests at a travel tavern in deepest darkest East Anglia. Ten pin bowling, crazy golf, FSMA and binge drinking I dreaded it.
We arrived at the hotel on Wednesday and I met the other trainees in my office – Paul Owen, Tim Price, Luis Carruthers, Evelyn Williams and Courtney Lawrence. First impressions matter and thankfully I liked my trainee intake. I knew Paul from law school, Id fancied Courtney at university and the rest seemed like decent people.
But theres also the group dynamic to consider. As trainees, it can be like a resistance movement – solidarity being all important. One person playing politics and it means a fight for the life boats (or, in the context of training contracts, seat choices). Beneath the outward congeniality, you always get the odd careerist and there can be an undercurrent of self interest. I was glad that everyone seemed fairly genuine.
That evening the whole intake played a spot crazy golf. Thankfully, Paul smuggled along some booze and the six of us got lashed. Afterwards we went back to the hotel bar and I plucked up the courage to make my acquaintance with Courtney.
Disappointingly, I ended up cornered next to scampi fries girl. Bored – and somewhat pathetically – I hit the gin and ate the free biscuits in my room before going to bed. Start as you mean to go on. Not exactly a Mick Jagger moment for Alan McBeal.
The next morning in my first bout of American Psycho Patrick Bateman-esque behaviour, I got up and went jogging. Disturbed, I contemplated whether this was my first yuppy compulsion. What was to follow chinos, dinner parties and a coke problem?
Determined to offset my yuppy emissions before going to my financial markets lecture, I put four sugars in my cup of tea and covered my breakfast in brown sauce. Start as I mean to go on, I thought.