My hair is kind of a sensitive spot for me, you guys. I love it and am protective of it. And I dread the day it will change colors, which, due to a few numbskulls, might be sooner rather than later.
I’m very grateful that, so far, there is not a single silver strand in sight when I brush my hair. Nothing but black, baby. And sometimes more of a blue-black, and I’ve even found a purple strand once, which is super weird, because I’ve never dyed my hair.
Oh! Once, back in law school, @BobBlahBlawg gave me the scare of a lifetime. See, I always teased my dearest Bob on account of him being a soulless ginger daywalker. (Don’t listen to him – he totally has ginger notes in his beard! Ignore the fact that he has been clean-shaven for about a year. THIS DOES NOT ABSOLVE HIM OF HIS GINGERTUDE.) So I’d just randomly knock him for being a ginger, and he’d issue indignant denials.
So one day in Corporations and Partnerships, I’m sitting in my seat and typing out my notes and simultaneously reading Garfield-Minus-Garfield, and I feel BobBlahBlawg staring at me. Just.Staring.At.Me. Now, whenever he stares at me, it never bodes well. So I just ignored him.
But then he reached out, ever so slowly, while our professor was lecturing about everything that I hate. And very gently, he combed his fingers through my hair, right at my temple, and separated a lock of it, which he then twined around his fingers. And then he said it.
“You have red hair.”
And sure enough, the lock of hair that he held between his fingers was RED.
I KNOW. WHAT. There hasn’t been red hair in my family for generations! We’re South Asian! Very few of us have red hair that’s derived from genes as opposed to henna!
OMG, I nearly died. Right there in Corporations. Which would be a terrible place to die, on account of it being the worst subject on the planet. Aside from Organic Chemistry. God, I hated Orgo. And chemistry in general. The ONLY good thing about chemistry was (1) stoichiometry, because that’s basically math disguised as chemistry, and (2) when I got to blow shit up. In a contained and non-terroristy environment, obviously.
Ugh, it was basically the worst day of my life. Because then that bastard got to call ME a ginger. >:/
And the most bizarre part of it was that my hair actually was red – but only that lock of it. No other red strands. Unacceptable.
Anyway, even though the red strands can’t be explained, the gray ones, when they come, will have a ready explanation: my clients.
You guys. Sometimes I just can’t handle it.
Now, to be fair, what I’m about to describe is rare. Well, not rare. Rather, it’s not all that common. But it happens, and it annoys me to no end.
I always make it a point to get to court about a half hour before the court call is supposed to start. Most of mine start at 9:30, so I’m usually trotting into the courthouse around 9, or five minutes after. In Cook County, and many of the outlying counties, nothing really gets rolling until 9:45, so I usually just end up sitting around, desperately trying to convince the courtroom personnel that I am not (1) a student or (2) lost.
And let me tell you, when you’re walking into court, trying to focus and thinking of all the millions of things that can go wrong and how you’ll handle it, the single most terrifying sight is your client walking out of the courtroom where you’re both supposed to be at that morning.
Just as you’re walking in.
I swear, it’s only happened to me a couple times, but every single time, I see them walking out and I’m just like,
Nope, nope, nope.
I swear, it’s like my heart stops for a second. Because as much as I like most of our clients, I don’t trust any of them to do good by their case without Raymond or me with them.
And for the times that it’s happened to me, it’s always been a sensitive situation. Yes, it’s a status date, but sometimes status dates aren’t just status dates. Sometimes there’s a hell of a lot going on that me and Raymond can absolutely pick up on and manipulate, but the client would have no damn clue.
One time, it was a supervision status date, the last one before termination. This meant that it was entirely possible that the State could have thrown our client a big curveball and surprised him with some new shit, and he wouldn’t have known what to do. Aside from that, it was all in front of a judge that happens to be the ONLY judge that we basically do SOJs for every time we’re up in front of this person. (Substitution of Judges motion.) And we do that for a very good reason. One that actually did impact this particular case a bit.
So, yeah, that was bad. That was really, really bad. I mean, thankfully, nothing really happened, so we were very, very lucky, but you don’t catch those breaks very often.
Another time, a situation arose in which I was coming in for a status date, and unlike a normal status, I was tense because I was fully expecting to be slammed with a petition to revoke, and possibly a bond hearing. I was really hoping that nothing would pop, but I was prepared in case something did. And when I walk in, what do I see but my client walking out of the courtroom.
I nearly died. It was the worst. Because I had no idea what he’d said to the State, if he’d let the cat out of the bag, if he’d had to post bail if the bond was increased, nothing. So that was pretty awful.
Thankfully, again, I caught a huge break because nothing had happened. Absolutely nothing. I double and triple-checked with the clerk and the file, because, frankly, I don’t trust what opposing counsel tells my client when I’m not around, and I don’t trust my client to have caught what was said and done, and the right words that clue me in as to what happened and how the case moved along. But there were no surprises that time – except for the surprise that everything worked out and I could slink on out of there as quickly as possible with no harm done.
It’s emotionally harrowing because on one hand, you’re tense because you’re anticipating trouble, so you’re preparing for it. And then you’re furious that they went in without you and you missed out on the experience and interaction and more importantly, you missed out on the opportunity to control the damn situation. And then, if the stars are in alignment, you’re just so damn happy that nothing bad happened to your client that day, despite what they pulled.
But the worst is when they just.don’t.get.it. Sometimes they do, and you can yell at them and basically put the fear of God into them about not ever setting foot in a courtroom without you, and they get it and apologize and promise not to pull that shit again.
But sometimes, it’s just in one ear and out the other. They don’t think they did anything wrong. They don’t think they were in danger for even a second. They don’t think that anything could have happened that they couldn’t have handled. I’ve had a client say to me, “But, Huma, it was just a status date! Easy peasy! I knew I could handle it without you!”
And once the rage-stroke passes, I’m just like,
Seriously. Why don’t I just lay down and die, because you obviously know how to practice law without me. I am purely superfluous. I’m just the window decoration that strolls in wearing a tailored blazer and heels, and any trained monkey could do what I do, because it’s just a status date and you can do it without me.
Granted, there are so many worse ways for clients to mess things up. When no one gets hurt at a status, it’s hard to stay mad about it for too long. But good Lord, is it terrifying to walk into a courthouse … and see your client walking out.
I can’t wait to practice long enough to have a client say something dumb like, “I didn’t think I had to show up – it was just a trial, and I’m not testifying on my behalf, so can’t you do that shit without me?”
Or, “I don’t think I’m going to show up for the court date this week – I have things to do.” (Actually, one of our clients said this. I was like HAHAHAHAHA NO.)
Oh! Or, “I know the bond says I can’t possess any child porn, or even normal porn, so, can YOU buy some for me?”
That’ll be fun.
People are fun.