Have you stopped beating your wife?

11 angry men and one who is slightly annoyed

Greetings Gentle Readers. Today’s writing effort does not have anything to do with traveling, so if you cannot stand to drift off subject for even one exciting installment of the Intrepid Traveler, I suggest you stop reading this right now. Of course, I have been suggesting you stop reading this blog for years but some of you must be deranged. I hope that the remaining readers…OK, reader (thanks Mom) of this blog will bear with me as I discuss and review an event that I have been preparing for now for many months. Without giving away any industrial secrets or legal positions, I thought I would tell you about my first experiences with the legal profession.

I am learning that Lawyers and their minions live in a completely different world than I do. Their world is a world of black and white, yes or no, where I live in the world of grayscale. I don’t see things as having yes or no answers. Life is too complicated for me to boil it down to yes no / black white. I am a simple man, with simple wants and needs. I want to start my day with a hot cup of coffee. I want a clean, orderly house, and I want the power of Invisibility. I am still working on getting the clean house. But, as usual, I digress.

This legal matter I mentioned is a law suit between a giant multibillion dollar corporation and the small company that I work for. There was an incident and damages, but thankfully no injuries. I was selected as the Corporate Representative for this case since my knowledge of the situation exceeded that of our janitor. I have spent months reviewing documents, reading emails and watching Perry Mason re-runs to prepare for my deposition. I have been given thousands of pages of notes by our team of attorneys so that I could master the subject. I got very good at carrying those massive files around under my arms while walking around the office. This sorta reminded me of being back in college, when I’d go to the library; gather a giant pile of important looking textbooks on my table, then take a nap.

Anyway, the day came for my deposition. The meeting was in a very imposing skyscraper in the heart of the city. I was ushered in to a large conference room. I sat at the very end of the long table. At the other end of the table was a camera man and video equipment. My lawyers had prepared me for this and told me to wear a coat and tie to look “professional” for the camera. They did not, however, instruct me to wear pants. Oops. Soon the room was swarming with attorneys, the corporate reps of the other companies involved, and a few street performers. (it did not take long for the Mime to get annoying. The Mime was standing in the back of the room silently depicting me, with a noose around my neck) My stomach was in knots. My heart rate was off the chart. My spleen was having a world class jousting match with my gall bladder. But on the outside I was cool as a cucumber. I was sure my uncontrollable drooling would stop before the camera started rolling. I picked a bad day to stop smoking.

Each team of opposing lawyers had a lead person designated to ask me questions. Keep in mind that this incident happened over six years ago, and I cannot remember how to find my garage, so you can imagine how difficult it has been to prepare to respond to their queries. When one lawyer exhausted his list of questions, the next lawyer at the table took over. This hand off of inquisitors happened four times. I was picturing in my mind a pistol revolver and each attorney was a potentially deadly bullet in one of those chambers. When the last lawyer was finished, they started the cycle again! The first guy now had a whole new set of questions based on what my previous responses had been.

But surprisingly I am feeling like Errol Flynn sword fighting with the King’s guards. I am thrusting and paring and deftly avoiding their razor sharp questions. If only there was a candelabra on the table to whack the top off. But after several hours of this it was getting fatiguing. The round-robin questioning just never seemed to end. For those of you who are familiar with the movie “Airplane!”, there was a scene where a hysterical woman was slapped in the face by her companion in order to calm her down. Another passenger on the plane steps up and slaps her too. The camera pans away from the scene and you see a long line of passengers waiting for their turn to slap the woman. Some holding baseball bats and Billie clubs. Well today, in this conference room, I was just like that woman. I picked a bad day to give up heroin.

Late in the day, after endless testimony, they wanted to get on the official record of my lack of technical expertise. “Sir, are you a Corrosion Engineer? I couldn’t stand playing it straight and proper any longer and said “No, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night”. There was a long moment of silence. It was deathly quiet in the room. I could hear the steel beams in the building creaking. Then the room exploded with laughter. I could see in their faces a look of dumbfounded confusion. No one in the room could believe that I would insert an answer in my sworn testimony referring to a hotel commercial. From that moment on, I felt even stronger. More empowered. Suddenly I was the champion of the Little Guy, taking on these fancy hired legal guns armed solely with my wit and charm. At least that is what it seemed like in my fried brain.

The session finally ended around 6pm that night. I was ecstatic that it was over. I had survived! I still felt strong until they told me they needed me back for another deposition. This next one would be for my personal knowledge and involvement in this case, not as the Corporate Representative. Damn. I should not have used up all my wit and charm. I guess this means I have to pay for another room at the Holiday Inn Express. Oh, and to answer the question posed at the beginning of this piece: Have I stopped beating my wife? Answer: “No, I did not know there was a time limit”.

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