Before I say what I have to say today, I’d like to clarify that I know what goes into becoming a lawyer. I know what lawyers do. I have worked for lawyers (a rather sizable firm in a rather small city,) and I have lawyers who are members of my extended family. Many of them, when they are not being “lawyerly” are lovely, kind people…with that edge that comes from having been to law school and passed the bar examination. If you engage in discourse with them, there is NO WAY they will want to lose, and very seldom will they think you are a worthy opponent because, unless you are a lawyer, you are not trained to argue with the same kind of mental alacrity that they can exercise.
Again, this is not always ALL lawyers. Just enough of them to make the rest of us feel like we should feel dumb around them. The problem is, mainly, that I don’t feel dumb and, sadly, I am not in awe of anyone who went to law school. I am in awe of people who went to med school, but that’s another story…the first year of their training they spent with a cadaver. THAT is hardcore.
So…why am I in such a tizzy this morning????
Here we are…23 days away from J’s 18th birthday and Mr. Attorney is dragging his fanny. When I say dragging, I mean “with little to no enthusiasm.” To make matters worse, he has made the sad and silly mistake of underestimating me. To quote Mr. T, I pity the fool… He’s going to have one of those “come to Jesus” moments very soon. The very soon comes as soon as he finds out he’s been fired…if he checks his messages, which I doubt he does.
I think I have a new record for tolerance and patience. It is now at 111 days. Not one more, not one less. That is a HUGE improvement. That’s basically 30% of a year? (This is when I wish my maths skills were better.)
The odyssey (a less interesting and less colorful one than Odysseus’) began in September when we first met with The Attorney. We spoke with him, in the flesh, ONCE. I have had TWO rather unsuccessful phone conversations with him, and I’ve left several messages that have never been replied to over the course of 111 days. Because I’ve witnessed the song and dance from the privileged perch of the receptionist’s desk, I pretty much know what this guy has been doing, and I’ve been mirroring his moves with my own, and doing him one better.
This is the drop that finally made my cup runneth over: I sent an original document that he had requested in September, received a draft of in October, told me he was going to consult with a colleague about in November, and berated me for not getting to him on the last day of the year. That I told him “you never gave me the green light on having the doctor sign it, and I’ve left messages for you” simply elicited a “oh, yes, I told you” from him. I sent the original letter with a receipt. He was in high dudgeon because I sent a receipt, and told TGG “what? She doesn’t trust me??!!”
When your 21 year-old kid calls you from outside the office and asks “WHERE did you find this clown???,” you know you have a problem.
I don’t come from a long line of organized people. Au contraire! Tax Day was always excruciating for my dad because (in spite of his very firm intentions to do the opposite) he would find himself sorting through his and my mother’s rather freestyle filing system. There were paper bags involved. Purses that had been sitting in the closet for months. The glove compartment in the car was also a handy filing cabinet. So, genetically, it is not encoded in me to be punctilious.
My great-aunt Celia, on the other hand, was punctilious in the extreme. Not anal retentive, but definitely detail-oriented. My great-aunt Mimi used to say “if she EVER wants to blackmail someone, she’s got what with!” Because I grew up in THAT environment (where office supplies were as important as having coffee at the ready) instead of the other environment (where Johnny Walker was my dad’s tax preparation assistant,) I could (should I be inclined) be a master blackmailer, or -in kinder words- I have kick-ass file-keeping skills. My great-aunt Celia used to tell me that people would, from time to time, assume that their intellect is by far superior to mine, and that they will do their best to take advantage of my so-called inferiority, but that the playing field is leveled by proper record-keeping. “If you can come back and say ‘that’s not what you said to me, and that’s not when you said it’ with a certain degree of authority, and backed up with notes…you’re one step ahead and above,” she used to tell me. This is one lesson that I have learned extremely well, and you can argue with me ’til the cows come home, but I have notes to back my argument up, and not every opponent has that.
Sitting in front of me is a binder in which I have collected all information pertaining to the legal ramifications of J’s 18th birthday. I have documents that might be required by the many agencies we’re transacting with; I have birth certificates, custody papers translated from Spanish to English, Social Security application documents, Selective Service registration information…you name it, I have it.
What The Attorney has never suspected is that, little ol’ receptionist that I am, I have a timeline of every conversation, e-mail, letter, message that has passed between us and all the other people we’ve contacted regarding J’s transition into majority of age. Between August 15th until today, 40 phone calls, e-mails, messages, notes, meetings and transactions have been completed in our efforts to resolve the issue of J’s guardianship. Of all the e-mails I have sent the attorney, not one has received a reply or acknowledgment. (WHO, really, answers “did you receive the e-mail with contact information for J’s biological father?” with “well, if you sent it, I must have it, right?”) I have left five voice messages, and received no reply to them. Everything he asked us to do (a precious authorization for release of information was signed to give this guy access, and he never asked for anything that he said was “very important” to the process,) we have done. That we feel gypped is an understatement.
This morning I called the courthouse seeking information regarding whether J’s case had been filed yet. Not only has nothing been filed, but the person in charge of that office paused ominously when I gave her the attorney’s name. She then told me that WE CAN DO THIS OURSELVES WITHOUT AN ATTORNEY!!!!
I almost sobbed.
I couldn’t believe it.
We wasted 111 days bullshitting (pardon the French, people, but I’ve found that is accurate and mildly offensive compared to the OTHER words that have come to mind, and there have been A LOT of words that have come to mind, trust me,) and the clock has been ticking all along. The Attorney, an intelligent man -no doubt…he passed a bar examination, which is nothing to scoff at- who has a successful practice and, obviously, thinks we are small potatoes in the great scheme of things, is smarter than I am…but I am more efficient, and I can prove that he’s been wasting our time. Royally!
Yes. One-hundred and eleven days is definitely my threshold, and I’ve crossed to the other side.