I mean, I’m awkward in general. I’m so incredibly awkward. If I’m talking to women, I’m much better, and can be myself a bit more easily. But when I’m talking to men … forget about it. I’m insanely awkward, and I can’t read between the lines of what they’re saying, and so many times I just plain miss social cues that would be obvious to anyone else, and our interactions come off stilted and awkward and confused and I just want to crawl into a hole and die afterward.
And generally, the vast majority of prosecutors I have to deal with are men. There are a couple women, but obviously, the relationship, while civil and cordial, isn’t an overly friendly one, so I’m generally just as awkward with the ladies as well.
There are basically only three prosecutors (a special, an AAG, and an AUSA, all of whom are coincidentally on a handful of our child porn cases) that I can have normal, friendly conversations with and not want to stab myself afterwards. Three in, like, dozens. Dozens and dozens and dozens.
Ugh. I’m a trainwreck.
So that’s the lead-in to this little story about how awkward my life is, and how I should basically not be allowed out in public. I don’t think I’ve shared this one. It happened quite a while ago, but trust me, severe social awkwardness must come with some kind of muscle memory because I still wince a little when I remember it.
So I was out somewhere, in some county where I rarely appear, and I was handling one of our misdemeanors.
This courthouse was kind of in the sticks, and I’d never been there before, so I had no idea what the local culture was like. I’d talked to some of the PDs down there and they told me that it was a little laid back and the focus was on moving the cases along, and the prosecutors and PDs generally got along pretty well because they worked with that mindset.
(Now, I don’t know if that means that the focus was just on pleading people out in order to move things along, which I don’t like, but whatever. You should never just plead your guy out to something because you want to get the call done quickly or dispose of the case so you can work on your bigger ones or because the client isn’t paying you on schedule or because you’re working for the bond or whatever.)
Still, that didn’t tell me everything I needed to know, you know? So when I got a hold of the prosecutor on the case, I asked him if he’d mind stepping into the hall with me, and I started talking. I explained who I was and why I was there, and then I like to do a quick bio of my client with the most important (and mitigating) details. Short and sweet. The prosecutor stopped me and was like, yeah, I’m not going to jam you, this is what I’m offering. I worked him down on the fine by way of compromise, since I couldn’t get the dude to budge on the time period of supervision (and he’d already given me what I wanted, which was non-reporting and appearance waived on the date of termination), and we called the case.
Later, I’m out in the parking lot, standing by car and looking at my calendar as I tried to organize the flow of the rest of my day and also figure out where I could get the biggest sandwich known to man.
And who should I see walk past me down the long row of cars in the lot but the ASA on the case I had just wrapped up. He was on the phone and wearing an ugly knit hat, and he didn’t notice me as he strode by.
“Yeah, I just got done with the morning call,” he was saying to whoever was on the other end. “Thought I’d get some coffee. There was this one attorney from up in Chicago who was here and she drags me out into the hall and gives me this whole schpiel about how her client was stressed out or something and it was just an unfortunate mistake and I’m listening to her and I’m thinking, ugh, fuck me, I don’t want to talk to anyone…”
That was all I heard before he was out of earshot, and I remember just staring after him, not fully convinced that I had heard that.
A whole schpiel? I probably talked for sixty seconds, tops, before we launched into the terms. And I didn’t say my client was stressed – I said, “clinically depressed.” And the “unfortunate mistake” thing, yeah, that was accurate.
But he didn’t have to say it like that.
But twenty seconds after he’d walked off to get that cup of coffee, I started to laugh.
I mean, I kind of had to laugh about it, you guys.
It was kind of adorable. I “dragged him into the hall,” and I gave him “a whole long schpiel” and he didn’t “want to talk to anyone.”
I just had to laugh.
And then I got in my car and wondered, for the millionth time, why I was so incapable of having interactions with men that didn’t turn out to be gallopingly awkward.