I have seen that title floating around for years. And I know now—more so than ever—that it is a lie. It’s a lie straight from—well—I can’t really imagine where because I don’t even know a lawyer that is a good enough liar to make that up. That’s like saying, “a funny thing happened during brain surgery.” Some things are just not funny.
The way to the courthouse is when you realize you forgot an exhibit you needed. It’s when you decide you need an exhibit you didn’t make. It’s when your client calls because they can’t find you and you realize they went to the wrong courthouse. It’s when someone in front of you gets in a wreck. It’s when the parking garage is full. It’s when you second guess whether you read the correct line of cases or are calling the right witnesses. It’s when the one hour of sleep you got the night before is just not enough.
You could put Barney Fife, Gomer Pyle, Mike Rowe and Yogi Berra in the car with you on the way to the courthouse and it would not be funny.
As a matter of fact, not much happens in the legal world that’s funny. That’s just the unfortunate fact of the field I’m in. Bizarre, yes. Contentious, yes. Funny, not much.
In the ten years I’ve worked at the BLF, we’ve had people forge insurance paperwork, intentionally break their own bones, name their two daughters the same thing, request a bronze pig as a headstone, falsify leases, claim severe scarring from bed bugs, and more. You should read what some people will fill in on a web form to describe their legal concerns. Yeah, there are some odd ducks out there. But save the one person who claimed they slipped out of the hotel shower into the toilet, not many are truly funny.
So when I decided that I wanted to write about something funny that happened at the Bostic Law Firm, I had to dig deep. Way deep. But one lady saved me.
I tried to change names to protect the innocent, but it just didn’t work. I couldn’t tell the story. So instead, I have changed names to protect the guilty. For the sake of this story, I will call her “Miss A” (only because it has pretty much nothing to do with her real name).
Miss A came to us because of a car wreck. She did not have a very good case, and frankly, it wasn’t long at all before we completely regretted having signed up Miss A.
But to her, it was the most important case in the world. And she called every day to make sure that it was being treated as such. I don’t know if she thought we were all hard of hearing or just stupid, but either way, she made sure we heard her by bellowing into the phone, “HI, THIS IS MISS A. IS PETER SAWYER THERE?”
It wasn’t a question, it was a demand, and frankly, it was entirely unnecessary. We knew who it was before she even got the “HI” out and no one would have robbed Peter of the pleasure of speaking with her that day.
If, for some reason, Peter was not able to satisfy her concerns over the phone, Miss A would unexpectedly show up and express herself in the lobby, “WHERE PETER SAWYER?” she would ask. The rest of us would run and hide. “I NEED PETER.” The glass doors would shake. Whatever Peter was doing, he would have no choice but to immediately direct his attention to her. “WHERE’S MY MONEY?” I would grab my wallet and sit on it.
Miss A was about twice Peter’s size (or so it seemed) and I was borderline scared for him a time or two. If things didn’t seem to be progressing as quickly as she would like, she let us know in decibels.
Fortunately, the day came for Miss A to come pick up her check. She arrived at the office decked to the hilt. Every nail painted; every eyelash in place—and about five times as long as natural. She wore platform shoes that made her presence even more noticeable (if that was possible), but she was sweet to our office manager; she was patient in the lobby. Peter was the conquering hero and the rest of us came out of hiding to witness the end of the historic era of Miss A.
After signing her release, and getting her check, Miss A, got up and floated out of the conference room.
This is the part I’m not sure I can do justice to. You may just have to have been there to really appreciate what happened next. You may just have to have known her. You may have to have heard her commanding voice booming through our office to really get the scene in your mind. But I’ll do my best.
Miss A was so happy, that she reached out to give Peter a crushing hug. Peter, who—to his credit—doesn’t generally go around hugging women, had no real choice about whether or not to participate. But from my view from the next room, I saw him try to extricate himself after ten seconds or so and it was a noble effort.
But Miss A’s long, flowing braids attached themselves to Peter’s glasses and her wig stayed even after he pulled away.
It was one of the funniest scenes of my life—Peter backing up and her voluminous wig preferring his glasses over her head.
It’s okay to laugh—it was not an “I’m battling cancer” wig it was more of an “I want to beautiful and I don’t have the patience” wig. And it was hilarious. I had to go back into hiding so I could laugh. And laugh I did.
That scene has provided me comic relief many, many times since.
Just not on the way to the courthouse.