It is really cold and damp here in Bisbee and it reminds me a lot of Vermont. On my drive in to work for my second day as a Cochise County Public Defender this morning I had to drive over the San Pedro river and there was a thick layer of fog over that area...to the point when I had to slow down because of limited visibility. My commute now is 25 minutes (as opposed to 1 hour 45 minutes). Its really nice.
In front of the old courthouse there is a copper colored statute of an "Ironman" because Bisbee was a big copper mining town in its day. The Ironman statute is wearing leg warmers today. He wasn't wearing those yesterday so it must be extra cold for him today or something. I went to the High Desert Cafe and got a cup of coffee this morning and that place is run by a bunch of tie-dye wearing, tattoo displaying women who could easily live in South Royalton Vermont. I find it slightly ironic that I've come full circle back to a Vermont-ish atmosphere. The people here are really laid back and hopefully I'll stop feeling like a total idiot soon and get with the program. I really have no idea about criminal law and basically spend have my day asking for the definitions of certain terms or looking them up. Going through an indictment is pretty time consuming right now because I have to look up every statute. I haven't been to the jail yet but hopefully I'll go there soon. I have 5 cases already which are set for trial. I've been assigned to the "trial team" so I need to start doing witness interviews, etc. to get ready for that. I'm from the civil discovery world where you do depositions and request written discovery. This is much quicker and to the point and you don't have those pesky arguments about whether the person really complied with a discovery request.
The orientation for this job was a whole other story. First of all, it took ALL DAY. I've never had an orientation that long. I got a binder full of copies of power point presentations about Fleet Safety (driving county vehicles), sexual harassment policies and the history of Cochise County. It was also incredibly boring and difficult to pay attention to. (I, of course, have about the shortest attention span in the world whenever anything that has to do with administration is involved.) During lunch I had to haul ass over to Douglas, AZ to apply for a new social security card because I don't have my actual card anymore. In fact, I haven't had one for over 15 years. (It was in my wallet when my wallet was stolen from a Starbucks in Beverly Hills long ago. Yes...bad things happen even in Beverly Hills. I learned the hard way not to set your wallet down when you're putting sugar in your coffee.) By the way, social security administration offices are just about the most depressing places in the universe. I sat there with a bunch of people who couldn't speak English while they argued with the clerks about getting benefits. I thought my number would never come up but fortunately it did and I got the requisite "documentation" to prove I have a social security card. I asked the Cochise county HR lady whether they use everify (which should be able to verify that I'm an US citizen, etc.). She said they did but they also needed my SS card. (I had my passport but that was apparently not enough.) I worked for the State of Arizona and never had to show my SS card. Weird.
That said, I can't complain too much because the benefits here are pretty good. The county pays for your health insurance! It doesn't take any money out of your pay for that and for a life insurance policy. Its pretty darn good. The insurance looks great too, its all a PPO and they cover a lot of stuff. That certainly makes my salary cut seem a little less harsh.
In the afternoon we learned all about benefits and signed up. I, of course, was in a group with a person who had to have everything explained to her so it took a little longer than usual. I'm always in that group. The benefits lady had these really long bright red fingernails which I found hypnotic. I couldn't stop watching them as she waved them around. I probably missed a lot of the benefits because I couldn't stop watching those talons fly. This same lady liked to talk a lot so I didn't engage her but the "question lady" had a lot of conversations with her about random things. The benefits lady started talking about improvements she wanted to make to a house she and her husband had just purchased and she mentioned that she wanted to put a brick wall around the back of the house. She said it would keep out the dust from a nearby dirt lot, keep her grandchildren safe inside her yard and keep out the "wetbacks." Wha?!?! Did I hear that correctly? Did an HR person just call Mexicans wetbacks? I couldn't help it but I coughed when she said that and she just looked at me with absolutely no idea that she'd said anything wrong. Now....I'm a conservative and I believe our borders shouldn't be open but I would never call a Mexican a wetback! This place is crazy. Maybe I'm more liberal than I think I am....