Yesterday’s tender moment came because a judge transferred his docket and I found myself on a bench outside of the substitute courtroom talking to my young opponent.
She couldn’t be more than 30, probably younger. She admitted to being four years out of law school, of which two had been spent in this building as a judicial law clerk. As we sat chatting, I noticed the vivid blue of her dress and commented. She sparkled, thanked me, and we talked about another lawyer’s weight loss. I had seen that other lawyer, recently, in a dress just as bright, just as bold.
A heavy-set woman with steel-grey hair trudged by pushing a cleaning cart. My companion greeted her by name, and the lady sat. The cleaner has been a fixture in our Independence courthouse for many years. I listened to the two of them talk about glasses. The cleaning lady went back to her cart to get a pair with purple frames and the lawyer put them on her face, smiling broadly. I noticed the slowness of the older woman’s speech, her simple vocabulary. The company which staffs the courthouse cleaners prides itself on giving developmentally delayed workers a chance to earn. I listened to the two women talking — the older, slow and clumsy; the younger, bright and clear.
But the woman beside me, half the age of the cleaning lady, with a law degree and stunning clothes, chatted easily with the other about buying multiple pairs of glasses on the internet to have a pair for every outfit. The conversation continued for several moments. Then the two said goodbye, The cleaner pocketed her purple glasses and hoisted her heavy body from the bench. She continued her trek down the hallway.
And my opposing counsel said nothing. Not a word, least of all anything even slightly condescending. The moment passed as moments do, a chance encounter between two people with kind regard for one another and the common ground of favoring colorful glasses.
It’s the eighteenth day of the thirty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.