Catalina Sanchez alighted from the taxi and used her card to pay for the fare offering a generous tip in cash after gathering her parcels. She could hardly wait to get up to her apartment overlooking the East River New York. It had been a hard day at the Law firm where she worked as an intern and she was grateful to her parents in Los Angeles for buying this apartment retreat for her. Her father Andres had been reluctant to see her leave their sprawling estate outside LA as he judged it to be an unsafe place for his daughter to live. But the pay package exceeded opportunities available in LA despite Andres pulling strings among his rich business associates and he eventually gave his blessing on the assurance she’d return West when her internship was over. He had no other children so the family fortunes would eventually come under control of Catalina when he passed on and her law degree would be helpful.
Andres sent his wife Elisa to search out and purchase an appropriate apartment for his daughter and mother and daughter trudged around New York’s better suburbs with the recommended real estate dealer until they found this beautiful apartment with a river view. Elisa knew her way around the property market as her family had been in property developments long before she met and married Andres. Their ancestors had been part of the upper crust in California when it was part of Mexico and they’d continued to flourish and enhance their wealth now as part of the United States. While there were great differences in style between LA and New York they were similar melting pots where different ethnic backgrounds mixed so Catalina would be able to get by if careful.
Andres had big plans for his daughter once she’d completed her internship. He planned to place her over time in various positions within his multiple businesses until he judged her capable of eventually taking over. She would of course eventually be wedded within the upper crust Latino families they associated with. Wedding outside their community would be unacceptable by his extended family members and the Latino community in general.
Catalina had been brought up with that sense of her community pride. There were many attempts among law students to get her attention as she was beautiful and outgoing. There had been some she’d warmed to and even dated. But Andres would eventually come to know of those interests through the family grapevine and interested parties would be warned off and sink into the background. It was not considered prudent to mess with the Sanchez extended family and daughters of rich Latino families were well protected.
Catalina loved her parents and understood they wanted the best for her in life. But there were times when she found this protection over the top and secretly rebelled against it in her heart. So, when after graduation the New York offer had proved too far exceed what was on offer in LA she was glad for the opportunity to get away from home for a while where she was not so carefully guarded. Furthermore, she was not convinced she wanted to end up being in the family business on her return though she realized that would cause consternation to the parents she dearly loved. Her ambition was to practice law and though she knew her parents would not understand it she wanted to specialize in representing the poor and oppressed who very few wanted to represent. There was little money to be made from this class of people. The law firm she now worked for only took on difficult cases to the benefit of the rich and famous and she was silently appalled as this class who didn’t deserve it got away with their antisocial and even criminal behaviour through the skills of her peers in the firm. She was appalled at this but soldiered on as she needed not only a degree but experience and reputation from working in one of the leading law firms of the nation. Even in setting up a practice of her own she’d be under scrutiny so needed the quality of this experience.
As with every intern in a law practice Catalina was thrown in the deep end from the beginning to test her out. She knew if she failed these tests over long hours of research in law and footwork gathering evidence for her superiors her one-year grace period wouldn’t be extended as the firm only kept the best of the best. In those first few months she spent long hours at the office sometimes returning home late at night for a few hours rest until an early morning start next day. Mistakes were noted and she’d often have to face the partners for a critique of her work. But this didn’t break her and slowly she was accepted as a valuable contributor to the work and the pressure eased. The probationary period passed, she was placed on a more permanent footing with the firm and her salary package became even more generous. Law school had given her the theory over years of study. and it all looked to be the guarantor for a better society, but she found that practice was where the reality of life came into sharp focus. The world she’d been protected from all her growing up years turned out to be a very ugly place.
Catalina was also introduced to other realities a woman must contend with in the workplace. Working in proximity with law firm partners and corporate administrations sometimes put her in compromising positions. Her family had always instilled in her high values and she learned to parry the advances without embarrassing those trying their luck and still be on good terms with partners and clients. While the Sanchez family interests were largely based in California their interests and reputation were known around the nation and those trying their luck did not push that luck to the point things could become uncomfortable for them personally.
Catalina had established boundaries and was beginning to enjoy her new-found freedom and the knowledge she was valued as an employee and well rewarded for her efforts. She was even finding time on weekends to do a little exploring around New York and discovering its interesting cultural attractions and the pleasure of her river setting.
To be continued
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