Sunday, July 28, 2013

My Sunday Feeling

I suppose the fact that I still have really good peripheral vision is a good thing.  Because of that I at least saw it coming.  But even though I saw it coming, I can't really describe how it happened.  

I was stopped in the left turn lane looking South on Van Buren.  When I saw something white and large way to my left.  It was an old-prophetically named- Dodge Ram flying out of the Exxon station.  I guess he was trying to get across my lane and into the right hand lane.  All I knew was that I was as good as hit.  I raised my arms as if I were doing a chin-up to protect my face from the glass and the airbags.  

Then BOOM!  

I was lucky.  He hit the front wheel well.  No glass.  No air bags.  I just sat there for a minute while I made sure that I wasn't injured.  Then I got mad.

"What were you thinking?" I yelled as I slammed the car door.

"I didn't see you.  I'm sorry," he said.  An older gentleman.  Wearing the clothes of a working man.  

"Didn't see me?" I said, wearing the clothes of a highly agitated lawyer. "How is that possible? I wasn't 2 feet away!"

"I'm sorry,Sir," he said. "It wasn't intentional."


 "I would never do something like that on purpose."

What an odd thing to say.  Maybe he felt that he was liable only for intentional torts.  Maybe he was shook up and that was what came out under the stress of the moment.  Anyway, it appeared to me that he was sincerely remorseful.  I lightened up.  Dealing with the insurance company and getting a rental was going to be a pain in the ass, as per usual.  But at least nobody was hurt.  

The police came and worked the accident.  Information was exchanged.  I'm pretty sure the man in the Dodge got a ticket.  One of the officers was carrying his ticket book and he didn't give one to me.  I'm guessing reckless driving or something for no other reason than trying to hang a left on Van Buren from the Exxon station during the shift change at the hospitals was nothing if not "reckless."  Indeed, if you could get a ticket for "driving like a goddamned fool" the man in the Dodge would have been a prime candidate for one.  

We exchanged our information.  

"I'm sorry," he said. "It wasn't intentional."

I shook his hand.

"I believe you."  

He walked off. 

One of the cops was standing nearby.  We watched the man cross Van Buren. 

"He said what?"

" I know.  Weird, huh?"

"Have a good day, Sir," the officer said as he walked back to his cruiser. He was shaking his head in that world-weary way of law enforcement officers everywhere.  Just when you think you've heard it all, boy.


I noticed the voice mail while I was getting my rental car the following evening.  It was a runner for a local chiropractor.  
I guess I have lived a charmed life.  But while I have heard of this sort of low commerce I have never actually been a party to it.  I didn't return the call.  After all, I have access to excellent health care and I wasn't in any pain seeing as how I had, as I far I could tell, sustained no injuries.  

By Wednesday I had received letters from 7 attorneys, most of them came loaded with refrigerator magnets, which I very much appreciated as I can always use magnets.  After today's mail I am up to 9 lawyers and 2 more chiropractors.  And one letter from State Farm advising me that they haven't been able to reach me to discuss my claim.  This is not true.  

Now it was obvious to me that the actual lawyers behind these solicitations employ someone else to crank them out.  I know a couple of these guys or know lawyers in some of these firms.  They would not address me as "Arthur" if they wrote to me.  

Indeed, if they had actual knowledge that I had been in a wreck they would have called me to see how I was doing.  Maybe end the conversation with "Let me know if I can help you."   Leave it at that.  

I don't need a lawyer to navigate this process because a) I am one and b) I'm uninjured and all I need is my vehicle repaired and a rental car until I get mine back.  I have every confidence in the world that State Farm will be diligent in getting after the hapless gentleman that struck me the other day which means c) I don't have dollar signs in my eyes.  I just want to get my car back so I can turn this crappy Jeep Compass in.

Don't get me wrong.  If I had been injured, I would have lawyered up.  But I know who I would retain.  

But having said that I have to ask the question: Hey McMath-Woods! Hellooooooo Wilson, Engstrom, Corum and Coulter! Where are my refrigerator magnets?

Don't you guys want my business?  I mean, if I was really hurt and had a real case and all?  

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sick Leave

The literary world will have to accept that I am taking a leave of absence today due to a really bad sinus infection that is lingering on despite my following the advice of the medical professionals in my life to lay low, drink lots of water and take horse pills.  

I'm thinking of taking up smoking.  Clean living doesn't seem to be working out for me.  

Catch you later.  Talk amongst yourselves until I get back.  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

My Sunday Feeling

I did something the other day that I hope I won't come to regret.  I agreed to become the President of the Hillcrest Residents Association.

Our immediate past President had to resign to tend to family business due to the unexpected death of his father.  That was certainly understandable.  But when the Nominating Committee unexpectedly turned to me in this dark hour not only was I surprised but I was also extremely ambivalent.

Don't get me wrong.  I was flattered.  And I love my neighborhood.  If my life's plan works out, I will leave here feet first and my earthly cremains will be stuck in a wall over to the Methodist church about 6 blocks from my house. That's why I agreed to serve on the Board in the first place when they asked me aboard a year or so ago.  

And still, it's not like the Board of Trustees at a college, or the Board of Directors of Women and Children First where I once served as President.  The stressors are few with this group.  The meetings typically revolve around such issues as graffiti in the neighborhood, crime in the neighborhood, what's going on in the local schools, stuff like that.

Occasionally, we have speakers.  For example, a couple of meetings ago a developer addressed the group seeking approval to build a driveway in such a way to avoid a certain street.  The adjacent neighbors objected.  Everybody got to get it off their chest.  

But every now and again there is an issue before the Board that involves something that folks on all sides of the question have a lot of emotion about.  And a couple of meetings have gotten ugly.

But I had to ask myself, did I really need this?  After all, even though I don't consider myself "retired" I am enjoying my mostly stress free life right now.  I enjoy pretty much doing whatever the hell I want to do whenever the hell I want to do it.  

When I looked at the situation through this prism, it made shirking responsibility seem pretty attractive.  

Still, these folks know me pretty well by now.  "Look," they said. "You're a lawyer, you're plugged in with the Mayor and with law enforcement.  You know everybody in town. You've run Boards before. And you've got the diplomatic skills for the job."

Hated to tell them that not very many people have ever accused me of being a diplomat.  I am polite, respectful and I mind my manners.  But I am no diplomat.  But they didn't know that.  So I didn't tell them.

But still, it wasn't until I had a beer with a former Board member that I decided to go ahead and do it.  

"You've got to admit you've got more time than anybody," he said. "And it couldn't be as hard as running a women's shelter."  

All true.  Keeping the doors of the shelter open and putting food in bellies and clothes on backs got pretty dicey at times.  The HRA by comparison deals with the Christmas tree lighting ceremony and the Ice Cream Social on the 4th of July.  And we're not even quasi-governmental.

In other words, I cannot possibly screw this up.  Which allowed my acceptance of the Board Presidency to conform completely with my new acceptance of my utter complacency and uselessness.  

Hell yes.  I'm in.  

Guess I'll have to quit drinking before the meetings now though.  


Sunday, July 07, 2013

My Sunday Feeling

My young neighbor to the West of me was mowing his lawn when he saw me leave the house yesterday.  He cut it off and motioned me over.  After talking about what all we had done for the 4th of July, he asked me if he could ask me a legal question.  He is a surgical resident.  I bug him all the time with medical questions.  Fair is fair.

"Sure," I said. "What's on your mind?"

"I don't quite know how to put this," he said.  "I know I will say this wrong.

M is a thoughtful kind of guy.  And he doesn't like to be imprecise in his language.

"Tell me," he said.  "What do you think about the recent Supreme Court decisions?"

"Which ones?"

"About gay marriage.  Can you just explain this to me?"

It is safe to say that M is a conservative kind of guy.  He is a Southern Baptist from Texas.  But, like I said earlier, M is also a very thoughtful guy.  He is fair minded and never argumentative.  And so when we have these talks I try to keep my personal opinions out of it.  Just to give him the state of the law as I would if he were sitting in my law office.  If I had a law office.

I told him that while I hadn't followed it as closely as I might but that the provision of the Defense of Marriage Act that barred same sex married couples from availing themselves of certain federal benefits like survivor's benefits, the right to file joint tax returns, to be covered under federal health care benefits in states that had legalized gay marriage was unconstitutional.  I told him that the Proposition 8 case involving California's gay marriage statute was thrown out due to a lack of standing to sue.  In other words, that the wrong parties had brought the suit.  And that's about all I know.

"Do you think that's right?" he asked.

"It doesn't matter what either of us think."

"It seems like this is a trend."

"I think that you are right. And I don't have a problem with it."

"You know?" he said. " Didn't state government have more power that the federal government at one time?"

"Still does in some areas.  For example, the state of Arkansas regulates both our professions.  The feds don't.  The feds regulate Medicare because its a federal program.  But it block grants Medicare money to the states to run.  There are federal regs but the states run it."

"That's true."

"Here's another story.  When I was at Tulane the legal age to buy alcohol was 18.  The federal Department of Transportation told the Governor that Louisiana needed to change the law.  Louisiana told Uncle to stick it."

"What happened?"

"Uncle told Louisiana that they could keep the legal age at 18 if they wanted to, it just wouldn't get any more federal highway money.  The law changed practically overnight.  People hate the government until they need the government."

"You're right. The money always comes with strings attached."

"Always.  But ya know, Americans have argued over the proper scope of federal power versus state's rights from the time  Alexander Hamilton floated war bonds to fund the army and suggested the creation of a National bank to Obamacare.  This has been a part of the national conversation since the Declaration of Independence.  And I think it's pretty cool that a couple of guys can stand in the yard and have a pleasant, respectful conversation about this stuff."

"You're right," he said.  "That is pretty cool."

He returned to mowing and I set out about my errands.

I always enjoy our talks.  I tell him the state of the law as I understand it.  He tells me why he either likes or dislikes what I told him.  Nobody tries to change the mind of the other.  Our talks are completely free of rancor and are conducted with the volume turned way down.

I think that's pretty special in this present age of angry sound bites, spin and making stuff up.

Imagine that.  A mutually respectful conversation about America a couple of days after Independence Day.  Why, that's damn near patriotic!