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[Note: Here's a guest post from someone riding the BigLaw Cruise ship of Whitestar, Titantic, and Iceberg LLP… enjoy, and we'll all meet over at the bar when you're through reading it. -GL]
In the rest of the world it's August 2012, but at my firm it's April 1912. You see, I work for the international law firm of Whitestar, Titanic, and Iceberg LLP and we're slowly slipping beneath the waves. We were speeding along just fine, on route to record profits (or so they told us), when the captain made an announcement offering a "generous early debarkation" to the most experienced deck hands and engine room workers. They gave each of the volunteers a few weeks provisions and set them adrift on their own personal lifeboats. To make up for the loss in manpower, we all took on more responsibility and greatly improved our productivity. We felt like we had done our part to help keep the ship moving. The Captain and the Line were proud of us. They relied upon us. Without us, they couldn't have done it. Nothing means more to them than our loyalty. And we continued on our way, feeling good about our progress.
There was no loud noise, no jarring crash, but suddenly some of the Captain's minions began throwing valuable crew members overboard with only a life jacket and a baloney sandwich. When asked about it, the Captain said, "No, there's nothing to worry about. We had too much weight on board and needed to slim down a bit. Our crew members are very valuable to us. We gave them all the resources they need to get back to shore. They'll be fine. Enjoy the rest of the voyage." Nobody bought it. The passengers and crew alike are now frightened and panicked; running around aimlessly trying to figure out exactly what's going on.
When I hang my head over the starboard side of the ship, in the moments when the screaming passengers stop to breathe, I can just make out the sickening sucking sound as water fills the lower decks. The captain is either in denial, or stupid, or both. I sit with my back against the railing, watching the frightened passengers run up and down the deck checking for hidden lifeboats, but there are none, they were all given to those who chose early debarkation. Of course, there are rumors of nearby ships, on their way to rescue us, but I know that those ships are only interested in saving the first class passengers. It's happened before. The rest of us will have to hope for passing fishing vessels, or hang on to some bit of flotsam and pray the current carries us into shipping lanes where, if we're lucky, we'll be picked up by an Outsourcing ship. They may pay us half our previous wages, but we'll be so happy to be alive, we won't really care.
In the meantime, it's all kind of surreal and beautifully bizarre. The way the stars and the lights of the ship are reflected in the cold, dark water; I can hear the band playing "Auld Lang Syne" on the other side of the ship; old friends and strangers are huddled beneath blankets telling each other lies about the likelihood of rescue; and the Captain stands proudly at the helm yelling, "full speed ahead!" I light my last cigarette, toss the lighter overboard, and walk slowly toward the bar.