Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Big Wet Kiss Worth of Holiday Cheer

I tend to be a bit hyper competitive about....well, about most things so forgive my interruption of the celebration of this most hallowed of seasons for a quick game of "You Cannot Touch This!". At the risk of failing to respect the line that separates confidence from cockiness I am willing to wager that my Tuesday afternoon was more exciting than yours. Well, then again, exciting may not be the proper word choice. Exciting or not, it was certainly eye-opening.

My living is earned defending folks and entities that end up on the receiving end of civil lawsuits due to their negligence, alleged and otherwise. Sometimes they are what they are accused of being and sometimes they are not. As the poet says, "Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug." I have been earning my living in this fashion for the better part of the past decade and a half. Over the course of my career I would like to think (at least I tell myself this in some earnestness every day) that I have developed some level of skill in what I do. And I know that I have developed a thick skin about what I do, which is as necessary as skill to survive.

The thickness of my skin served me well yesterday afternoon when I was taking a deposition of an eyewitness to an accident. The gentleman in question was stopped at an intersection and had the unfortunate experience of having an unobstructed view of my client's vehicle entering the intersection while making a left turn without my client apparently noting the presence of an 88 year-old woman in the crosswalk. Unfortunately for the pedestrian, unlike the twain the two most assuredly did meet and - equally unfortunately for the pedestrian - a mark was most assuredly left upon her. If you are a betting person and someone offers you action on a match up of a ton or two of sheet metal vs. the flesh and bones of an octogenarian, take the sheet metal 10 times out of 10.

Yesterday the eyewitness to the accident gave testimony that was long on dramatics but woefully light on specifics. In an effort to put a bit of meat on the bones of the testimony he was giving I asked him questions designed to elicit some actual, specific, factual information from him. Contrary to the spirit of the season, he was not in a giving mood. Well, that is not entirely true. He apparently was in the mood to give a speech and he grew more than mildly irritated when I (thinking that the performance was interactive and not realizing it was a one-man show) had the audacity to interrupt his monologue with a follow-up question. What can I say? I am the embodiment of the notion that life is not a popularity contest.

Finally, my gall at asking him questions about what he actually observed at the scene became too much for him to take and while leaning forward across the table, he exhorted me to, "Try and act like a human being.....for once in your life! Stop being a non-human!" Having only met him an hour earlier, I must confess that I was more than slightly impressed by his ability to make such a detailed assessment of me, particularly when juxtaposed by his inability to provide any such details about an incident that occurred four feet from him - an incident that he repeatedly told me was so disturbing that he would never forget it. Perhaps not surprisingly he did not take it in the spirit in which it was intended when I pointed that dichotomy out to him. Then again maybe he did.

I wish that I had enough self-awareness to have recognized my own lack of humanity prior to the afternoon of December 22nd. I could have asked Santa to bring me some for Christmas. Now, I suppose that after work this evening I will have to slog through the cold and the ever-blackening snow going from store to store hoping to find some - in my size and in a color and style that suits me. I suspect I would have better luck finding a Wii gaming system or a Zhu Zhu Pet Hamster.

Or perhaps I will wait until next week to go shopping for some. Better to take advantage of the after-Christmas markdown, right? After all, I do not want to overpay for a little humanity any more than I want to overpay for a set of snow tires - especially since for the next couple of months anyway I will likely get more use out of the latter than the former.

-AK

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