Acclaimed Papakura lawyer Harry Hindenberg returns after several years in hiding.
Readers, I know it has been a while. But between battling the Law Society, fending off disgruntled clients and exploring various pharmaceutical interests, there just never seems to be the time to write.
But something happened this last week that moved me. It bought back a lot of memories, mostly traumatic ones. Memories I had mostly tried to forget.
I am referring to the accusations of bullying made this last week by Labour MP Gaurav Sharma.
You see, I too have been bullied. I have known the misery and despair of being insulted, belittled and ground down by my professional colleagues. In fact it’s still happening to me. There’s barely a day goes by without my being subjected to cruelty and emotional violence by my peers.
I have witnessed firsthand the culture of bullying and nastiness that pervades our society, especially in our workforces. So I thought I would tell you my personal story. My name is Harry Hindenberg, and I have been bullied.
It began when I was a young law clerk, new to the profession. The abuse and bullying started from my very first day of work, all because I was three hours late. But what was I meant to do? Those drugs weren’t going to snort themselves. In the end they got rid of me after only a week, even though I had done nothing wrong apart from defecate on the managing partner’s desk that one time.
That was my first taste of bullying in the workplace. But alas, it wasn’t to be the last!
My next role involved working as a solicitor in a busy property and conveyancing firm. The bullying there was relentless. Some days I would leave the office in tears, after someone was mildly critical of something I had done. Like the day my boss got a red pen out and edited a draft document I had prepared for her. Right in front of me, as if to rub my nose in it! “Next time,” she said, “you should remember to spell-check your work. And I don’t know that ‘fuck this shit’ is an appropriate way for us to sign our firm’s letters off.”
Then there was the bullying thug lawyer who reported me to the Law Society, after I threatened to run his client’s legs over with my lawnmower. He could have ruined my career, had he not had a nasty accident shortly thereafter involving a piece of grass-trimming machinery. It was all terribly tragic.
Mind you, the Law Society are the biggest bullies of them all. I could fill a suitcase with all the nasty letters I have received from those guys over the years. I have been called every name under the sun by that pack of bastards: dishonest, grossly negligent, a menace to the profession, a thieving ratbag who should be imprisoned, a money-grubbing villain without morals or ethics, etcetera etcetera. And sure, I may have made a few mistakes over the years. Who hasn’t?
But there was no-one there to mentor me, to show me the right way. And so I learned by making mistakes. I just wish a wise old partner in one of my first firms had taken me aside and said “son, you need to be selective about the clients you steal from.”
So I did my best, but it was never good enough for the bullies at the Law Society. I don’t think it ever will be. Didn’t I say I was sorry for gambling away all those trust account deposits? Where is the forgiveness?
And now my own staff are getting in on the act. I do my best, and I like to think I am a fair employer. But some days I wonder if someone has pinned a sign on my back saying “world’s biggest sucker.” Like yesterday, when I had to berate one of my workers for taking time off to attend her mother’s funeral. All I ask is that my staff plan their bereavements in advance. Is that so unreasonable? So then she started to blubber, telling me I was unkind and heartless, a grotesque and selfish monster.
I realised afterwards that her tears were all part of a calculated strategy to wear me down, drain me, defeat me. To bully me into submission. But it’s working. Pretty soon she will be demanding the minimum wage, holidays, and access to toilets. What if I don’t have the strength to resist? This relentless bullying by my own staff will ruin me.
And now the Law Society Inspectorate are at my door, and do they have the police with them this time? Please don’t let them find all the bags of cash under my desk. Oh God, here comes more bullying. Some days I just want to cry!