Sunday, August 4, 2013

Dealing With Legal Eagles and Assorted Villiany

It is a common occurrence among the unwashed masses frustrated with the fact our society is far too litigious to utter this infamous line from Shakespeare’s Henry VI: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” Coming from the unwashed masses myself, for the longest time I thought it was a statement actually promoting the idea that everything would be peachy keen if in fact if all the shysters and assorted ambulance chasers were rounded up hauled off to the nearest slaughter house.

It was my lovely spouse, Dragonwife, herself an attorney, who sat me down and explained the true nature of what Billy Shakespeare meant. That lawyers, judges, and the rest of the legal eagle profession provide an important framework where disputes can be rectified before everyone starts to take matters in their own hands.    

As it is with all Southerners, at first I protested and continued to assume that I knew what I was talking about when in fact I was just proving the old maxim about people who cannot get over the fact that are nowhere near as smart as they think. At least I had enough dignity to surrender the point when it was proven that I did not have a leg to stand on. Southerners have for the last couple of centuries somehow come to believe they are legends in their own minds and usually have to be whipped to within an inch of their lives before they admit to being wrong about something.

As much as lawyers seem to be a parasites on the hypothetical butt of humanity, I at least understand now that we could not have a functioning society if they did not exist. The problem is that like all other people, groups, and professions there are those who are blatantly obnoxious and almost prove the stereotype.

About a year ago my wife and I went through the motions on refinancing the house. While this could be a whole post by itself in many ways I will just cut to the chase and say this was not the first time in recent history my wife searched for and got a lower interest rate on the mortgage. In fact, for her, it is sort of a hobby.

In truth, I shudder to think of the numerous trees that have to die for all the paperwork that is needed to refinance this fabulous money pit I live stuck in a neighborhood filled with soulless pod people that make Stepford wives seem fully human.  Excuse the sarcasm folks; I’m suffering from acute cabin fever exacerbated by my beer supply being exhausted at this moment.

Be that as it may, during this last mortgage refinance once the paperwork was completed my wife and I had to go to some local law practice and sign the forms. Like everything else in the area I live the offices housing the attorneys who were processing all the real estate mumbo jumbo had all the character of a lower end strip mall. Trust me, if South Carolina has one thing on the nation it is strip malls accommodating such glorious businesses like “pay day advance” establishments and tanning salons. The former being legalized loan sharks and the latter palaces for those desperate to experience skin cancer without going to the beach.

After a few perfunctory minutes of small talk with the receptionist my wife and I were escorted to what served as the conference room for these professional descendants of Clarence Darrow and Oliver Wendell Holmes. More sarcasm here, but the soda machine and industrial strength coffee maker did give it that homey convenience store touch.

About ten minutes later the two attorneys handling the paperwork came into the conference room and introduced themselves. The individual I will call “Heckle” was dressed in a decent but non- pretentious business suit. In fact he seemed genuinely friendly and with the top button of shirt undone along with his tie hanging loose around his neck he had the look of a tired but populist politician.

His partner, who I will call Jeckle, was the exact opposite. Despite being dressed in casual attire consisting of polo shirt, slacks, and leather loafers it was easy to tell none of it was bought at J.C. Penney or Macy’s. In fact I would be willing to hazard a guess Jeckle’s outfit came straight from the pages of GQ and cost twice as much as Heckle’s suit. Adding to Jeckle’s overall upscale GQ appearance was his stylish haircut and his beard that was so neatly trimmed I am sure he had visited one of those expensive salons where you do not walk out of the place without paying at least a hundred bucks.   

Part of the procedure to finalize the refinance involved my wife and me signing all the required paperwork along with showing valid identification so the legal gods could place their official stamp on the documents. By the time my wife and I had to prove who we were Heckle had run off to take a phone call leaving his metrosexual partner to finish everything up. Dragonwife handed him her driver’s license with Jeckle duly noting that the picture on the card was her.

When it came time for Jeckle to review my license I handed it to him just wishing this whole procedure would soon be over. As anyone who has been through this process can attest, it is boring and seems to take forever. In fact I actually believe time slowed down while we were in that conference/snack room because when I glanced outside the window I swear I saw the grass and trees visibly growing.

Just as I was beginning to believe we would never get out of that place I noticed Jeckle had discovered that the lamination covering my driver’s license was splitting causing the front and back halves to separate. “Mr. Johnson,” he said in an incredibly nasal voice, “just for your information with the lamination coming apart on your license it is essentially invalidated, you need to go to the DMV and get a new one.”

“Thank you, I’ll look into it,” I replied respectfully but with a touch of yeah, whatever.

Even with time slowed my wife and I eventually signed and initialed all the documents along with checking all our important information printed on them. Heckle and Jeckle tried a few final minutes of small talk to be friendly because all four of us in that room realized they were going to get paid a lot of money for just watching my wife and I sign papers, something I am sure a chimp could be trained to do.  

Like I mentioned earlier I completely understand lawyers are vital to the functioning of our society and if Jeckle had let his piece of counsel about my driver’s license not being valid anymore we could have all gone our separate ways in peace. No, Jeckle had to add more making me reevaluate my ideals.

Before I got up from the chair I was sitting, Jeckle came over and laid his hand on my shoulder. Unless you are a lover, relative, or a close friend that is a bad idea, like all people I have my own personal space and to put this in Star Trek terms for me he crossed the Klingon neutral zone and started firing on Federation starships.

“Mr. Johnson,” he said in his nasally voice full of authority, “about your driver’s license being invalidated that was some friendly, free advice I could have charged you for.” The look on his face and his hand on my shoulder strongly suggested he was serious.

Everyone has their own particular perceptions and ideas of how others in society see them. I’d like to think that when I encounter a stranger I appear welcoming, open, and ready to be friendly. Evidence in this can be found in my ongoing communications with about twenty some odd people I have met over the years on many trips to Disney World and the three Disney cruises I was lucky enough to catch with my wife and kids. While I am not exactly a party animal neither am I a sociopath.

Thankfully my wife understood the boundary Jeckle had crossed and quickly got me out of there only allowing me the satisfaction of envisioning him and his high quality attire being tossed off a very high cliff next the ocean to the hungry sharks swimming around below. Naturally my only concern would have been for the health of those imaginary sharks.


What brought on this post was the fact I spotted Jeckle in the grocery store just this last Thursday. He was talking with another person and although they were standing up he had his hand on this guy’s shoulder much the same way he did me. The look on the face of that unknown person suggested to me he was imagining a similar fate for Jeckle as I did leaving his office. 

Had to add this one just for giggles.


Slick said...

“Mr. Johnson,” he said in his nasally voice full of authority, “about your driver’s license being invalidated that was some friendly, free advice I could have charged you for."

Was this the part where you are supposed to fall to your knees and thank him profusely?
HE reminds me of the old joke: What's black and brown and looks good on a lawyer? A Doberman.

The only problem with lawyers---and every other profession---is that they are human beings first. No matter how you dress or educate a jerk, he's still a jerk.

rainboy said...

I always say never trust Lawyers , actors and politicians... All are Liars ... It's their profession to lie.

long time bro...
how are you

tc and have a great day.

Pixel Peeper said...

With lawyers, it's the same as any other profession - there are the quiet, unknown, hard-working ones, and the ones that are loud, out there, and in your face.

For some reason, we seem to have tons of ads by law firms on TV here (more than I remember from anywhere else I've lived). One character particularly annoys me - I call him the "fake guy." His teeth are bleached, his hair is colored, and is skin is spray-tanned.

The good guys aren't on TV.

Red Nomad OZ said...

HAhaha! Despite coming from a country where you're actually more likely to get skin cancer when you're NOT at the beach, even I can see that Jeckle is clearly using his 'profession' as a cover for his elaborate fantasies involving touching up other blokes. Think about it.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

A very clever post, dude, and you're right. Some lawyers are the scum of the earth. But then, so are people in just about every other profession. Luckily, I haven't had much cause to deal with a lawyer, but after my father died, we really lucked out with the ones we found to help us through Maryland's maze of estate laws. When we sold my father's house, he even represented us at the closing, so we didn't have to drive all the way back up there. In all sincerity, he was a gem. And with a good sense of humor. (An absolute MUST if anyone wants to deal with ME!) But those lawyers who advertise on TV? With their fake tans and plastic smiles, they make my skin crawl.

Randal Graves said...

The soulless hunk of hell that is bureaucracy is the true poisonous root. Lawyers are merely notaries for the nebulous made into paper.

Beach Bum said...

Slick: That was my point. Jeckle seemed to think his little piece of advice was some sort of godsend. Truthfully, in the area I live I have met a lot of people like that.

Rainboy: Dude! Thought you had drifted out of the blogging world, Will be over to your blog very soon.

Pixel: I knew this post could be read wrong if I wasn't careful. I did my best to make sure I was not mistaken in thinking all lawyers are like Jeckle.

Red Nomad: Absolutely, given that his operation with Heckle looked to be second rate I have always thought Jeckle was overcompensating for something.

Susan: Absolutely!

Randal: Damn! That last part was pure gold!

Mr. Charleston said...

Real estate closings are some form of torture only surpassed by buying a car.

lime said...

i am a warm and touchy feely person who likes to hug but i swear i'd have struggled not to reflexively slap the unctuous jeckle for resting a hand on my shoulder and delivering a message like that. ick.