The small room held a handful of lawyers and court personnel. I fidgeted in my seat while the judge reviewed my motion to withdraw. I summarized my argument, noting all my efforts to contact the client, and my inability to represent him because of his lack of cooperation. It’s not impossible, the judge drawled. Difficult, but not impossible. Motion denied.
Stunned, I drove through Starbucks, asking for a breakfast sandwich and coffee. When I got to the window, a bright, cheerful lady leaned out into the chill of the morning. You are going to be so mad at us, she trilled. We’re out of that sandwich! But we’re going to make a good one for you, a different one, and your coffee’s on me today.
I could barely comprehend the rapidity of the morning. I drove downtown and stood outside the courtroom where my next hearing would take place. I felt my head spin. I’ve never had a motion to withdraw denied, not in 32 years. I ran into a friend who commiserated and offered to cover the case for me, since its upcoming case review — which I didn’t anticipate handling — lands in the middle of my next trip to Stanford Medical Center. I shook my head. What a generous offer, I told her. She shrugged. We went into the courtroom,together, each prepared to talk to the other attorneys in our respective cases.
But my opposing counsel briskly entered without sparing a glance in my direction. She slammed her bag on a chair, pulled a compact out, pulled a cell phone out. She looked at no one. She stared at the little screen, gazed at her face, snapped the devices shut, crossed her legs.
When the judge called our case, the attorney strode to the bench and tapped her folder down on the shelf attached to the bench, pushing me over, taking the lead. I raised my eyebrows and saw the judge do the same. I thought to myself, That attitude won’t work in here. Sure enough, it didn’t, and at the end of the status conference, my opposing counsel darted from the courtroom while everyone else hid smiles.
I spent most of the afternoon at my desk, completing tax filings, downloading banking information, re-writing my to-do lists, and returning telephone calls. I nearly fell face-first into a hot lunch which my secretary brought me. My eyes drooped, my muscles constricted, my swollen feet throbbed.
When the snow started, I knew I’d take the excuse to leave early.
Now the television plays in the background as I fidget with the little piles of projects strewn about my dining room. The dog sleeps. Occasionally a ping signals a message intruding into my warm home from the outside world. I ignore it all. I sit at my lovely secretary, on my perfectly sweet chair. The trinkets and treasures on its shelves rise above me. They came with the furniture when I inherited it from my favorite curmudgeon, after he slipped away to join his life-long love in Paradise. When I slide out the desk surface, I feel them watching over me.
The grown-up stuff nearly conquered me today. But here in my haven, I can let it languish for the night. I can rest.