Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's Not Rocket Science

Dear Gentlemen:

I don’t know if I am exhausted from my busy weekend, excited about my upcoming vacation or just plain overcome by the heat, but I’m feeling uncharacteristically benevolent today.  Accordingly, I’m going to give you a little bit of advice that will make your world infinitely easier. 

We spent the morning of the Fourth of July at the home of some very dear friends.  There were tons of community activities going on for the holiday and our Diamond Magnolia Hostess had to do some serious planning for optimum enjoyment—thou shalt not leave Baby Belles with a free moment lest thou doesn’t care if thou’s furnishings fall victim to magic markers or if thou’s dog collapses into exhaustion from being “fetched” to death. 

As our lovely Diamond Magnolia zipped around the house finishing up preparations, her husband walked around in circles for a moment and then finally sat down and said, “I still don’t know what the plan is.”

I answered, “The ‘plan’ is to do whatever she tells you to do.  Honestly, how long have you been doing this?”

There it is:  Just do whatever she tells you to do. 

So simple, yet so eye-opening.  As Gomer Pyle would say, Shaaaazam!

I know that men think they have cornered the market on planning.  Granted, storming the beaches of Normandy was no small feat, but a few successes do not make one bulletproof.  Yes, for every success there is a Bay of Pigs or a Vietnam.  Let’s also not forget that many of history’s great successes might not have even gotten to the planning stages but for the wives of the planners who woke them up and got them out the door in the mornings as per impeccable schedules:

Get up and go potty Dwight.  Put your clothes on and then come downstairs so you can have a quick bite before heading out to the Pentagon.  Let’s get those infantry numbers settled.  When I call you at work today, I want to hear about progress, not head-butting.  I also want to hear that you included my troop disbursement outline.  Let’s get it done, General Eisenhower!

When a matter is planned by a Diamond Magnolia, one can rest assured in the plan’s reliability.  One can furthermore rest assured that—in addition to impeccable precision—etiquette is taken into account so that, not only will a plan be accurate, it will be appropriate.  It does not behoove anyone to question a Diamond Magnolia’s plan and one doesn’t have to know actually know the whole plan—one only needs to be able to follow orders so, again:  Just do whatever she tells you to do.

Fighting against the plan will only make things hard on you and it will seriously screw with the other good folks who are following orders like they ought to. 

My paralegals will tell you that I often wander around the halls of the office moaning, “Why don’t they listen?  I’m always right!  If they’d just done what I told them to do, they would have been perfectly fine!”

I really don’t feel as though I ask the impossible when I give my clients instructions.  I furthermore promise that my instructions are for their welfare and are born out of ten years of legal experience and thirtysomething years of common sense.  I often find that many of my clients have enormous amounts of legal experience (I have several one-person crime waves at any given time), but they lack the commons sense that God gave a paving brick.

Yes, I can talk consequences and repercussions until I am blue in the face—and I often do—and it is so terribly disheartening to see my instructions go in one ear and out the other.  I would have a better chance of getting my point across to the Great Wall of China. 

What are some of my “bang my head against the wall” moments?  Well:

  1. Ashley to Domestic Violence Defendant:  Okay, the judge let you out on bond and—I know he went over this with you, but it bears repeating:  You  have got to stay away from her.  You can’t go to her home or her work or anywhere else she might be.  If you see her when you are out in public, walk away immediately and leave.  Do not call her on the telephone for any reason whatsoever.  I don’t care if she calls you or tells you that she doesn’t care if you go around her or not, I promise you that you will care when you are picked up, prettied up in an orange jumpsuit and plopped right back in jail.  DO.  NOT.  CONTACT.  HER.

Result:  He called her right when he got out of jail and she said it was okay for him to come over.  Shockingly, the police were waiting on her doorstep.

  1. Ashley to Rastafarian Defendant:  Look, I’ve talked to your probation officer and she said that you have been in compliance with everything except for the dirty drug screens.  You were busted on pot charges and you’re smoking pot on probation—you’re not exactly evidencing a growth experience, if you get my drift.  Here’s the deal: Test clean for two weeks.  Two weeks.  Fourteen days.  Hold on for fourteen days and she’ll recommend releasing you from probation.  You’ll be free to move to Jamaica and follow the Bob Marley Way.
Result:  Not only did he continue to light up at every available opportunity, he showed up at the courthouse to resolve a traffic ticket and the bailiffs found bags of ganja on his person.  He’s currently “stirring it up” in custodial rehab.

  1. Ashley to Civil Plaintiff:  Okay, the defense is going to take your deposition.  Their attorney wants to see how well you will do on the stand during trial, so it is vital to keep your cool.  Only answer “yes” and “no.”  Do not voluntarily extrapolate.  Explain further—as minimally as possible—only when they ask you to.  KEEP.  YOUR.  COOL.
Result:  Plaintiff dives across the conference table with the intent of soundly throttling the deposing attorney.

For the love of all that is good and holy, just do what we tell you to do.  You will be so much better off.

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