Their Honors

I want to take a break from ranting about politics, and post something a bit more cheerful. It’s a quick, true story.

Last night I went to a reception for alumni of the university where I went to undergrad. The event was in Manhattan, though the college is in Chicago.

At this event I met two older ladies (I’m guessing low 60s) and got to talking to them. This is their story. (Cue the Law & Order sound).

They were from New York City, and they were friends in high school. Based on their law school graduation date, they would have likely started college in the late 60s. They didn’t want to be secretaries. They told me they didn’t want to type things or get coffee for men. These smart, ambitious ladies wanted to be executives, they said. One of them wanted to go to law school. The other didn’t at first, but her friend convinced her. So they went off to Chicago together, to go to law school (the one affiliated with my university). They got their J.D. and returned to New York.

They worked for a number of years as public defenders. And now they are criminal court judges in Manhattan! (“Like on Law & Order!” I exclaimed.) In fact, they have their chambers right next to each other.

It was fun talking to them about what their jobs are like. One of them worked for mayors Koch and Dinkins and had some  funny stories about Mayor Koch. I learned that NYC criminal court is in session 7 days a week, and there really is night court. In fact, they told me how people used to make a date night out of it: go to dinner in Chinatown and then go watch night court! They said that was before most of the prostitution cases were moved to a different courthouse.

There are a couple things I like about their story. One, it’s a success story. They were ahead of their time and managed to break through the glass ceiling. Remember when they started college, things were like you see in “Mad Men” and sexism was rampant. And two, it’s a great story of friendship. These two have stuck together for more than 40 years, and that’s a pretty rare and amazing thing.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this story. I’m sure I’ll be back to complaining again soon. There’s always so much to complain about!

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