Labor day


It was Labor Day again and I was laboring. At last. Or maybe not “laboring,” not really, all that sweat-of-the-brow exertion the word implied, to me – the kind of work my father once performed – but still, I was working. Shifting papers around with great intention and malice aforethought.

On Labor Day.

I had no desire to wait for Labor Day to work again. That was not something I would plan to do, like that. No. But my office closed for a week on account of Harvey and then I found myself sitting there, alone, trying to run through five days’ work in an eight-hour holiday.

My phone rang. The office one, I mean. It broke some Great Unwritten Rule, didn’t it?, probably unwritten, or at least a universal understanding that one does not call an office phone on Labor Day.

But I answered the phone and a voice came out sounding surprised. “Mister Hamid?” I stopped the shifting of my various papers. “This is Chip for XXY Corp., calling about the Banta matter.”

I told you about Banta. Before. I told you she died, maybe even a little because of me. O, I didn’t make her sick, it is true, nor did I send her off on that three-year bender. But I did my part. Always doing my part. I told you. What I failed to tell you either by design or oversight was this: I represented my dearly departed Banta – no, that’s too dramatic – my now late friend Banta. Defended her. In some civil matter, it doesn’t matter what.

Chip rattled on. Something to do with settling the case before he prepared requests for discovery and “These requests are, we’ll just say, extensive and ambitious, so I thought maybe you’d like a heads-up so you can avoid it.”

My office was musty with that smell of being closed up for too long. There was probably mold.

I said, “O Chip. Chip, I have some bad news. I should have called you.” I said, “I’m afraid my client died,” but even as I said it, I was not afraid. It was just something I said.

Chip said, “That’s okay. I’ll just proceed against her estate.” Poor guy. He probably believed he’d wind up as Atticus Finch once, long ago, and how he got to here was a sad story, I bet, but o well.

I thought and thought, rolling many possibilities around in my mind, all in accordance with that glorious training I had received so many years ago now. I said, “Great. Her estate, yes, Chip.”

I said, “Her estate is a backpack full of medications. It’s under my desk. Just tell me what time you’ll be by and I’ll give it to you.”

There was a silence followed by a click and then Chip was gone. Forever, I suppose.

I propped my foot up on Banta’s estate.

Comments

  1. We work every day of the week and nearly every day of the year. You have to in this service business I am in. People need pizza I guess and my corporate masters need thier profit.

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    1. Ho, Lachlann! I don't think I was ever as grateful for the people of the retail and service industries as in the days immediately following the storm. Everyone had issues going on, yet there the employees of Burger King were taking orders for cheese fries or something.

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  2. Same planet, different worlds. Or I assume it's the same planet, I didn't snoop your metadata...

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    1. A volunteer attorney who once took a bankruptcy case from my firm once told me, "I don't know why this client hs to declare bankruptcy, actually. It's less than $4,000 of debt."

      And that was true - but $4,000 of debt represented 5 months of her SSI check - almost half of the client's annual income. That's tough for a lot of people to relate with.

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  3. Is this legalese for "she's dead, so we'll just take her property instead"? How does that even work?

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    1. That's exactly right. They can sue the estate or wait for a probate to be filed (dividing up the estate to heirs) and then swoop in and take their money off the top.

      The advantage of working with really poor clients is that often, I can just shrug when the creditors come calling.

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  4. Oh, c'mon. You and I both know that if Chip were a REAL lawyer, he'd be there in a flash to collect that backpack.

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    1. Haha. That's right. I've been up against lawyers willing to bill their clients way more than the entire case was worth before. Because common sense isn't always that common.

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    2. Depending on the medications, the individual could parlay them into a couple weekends of hookers.

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    3. I can definitely see it that way... but you and I might not be as corporately minded as your average attorney out there.

      Based on my paycheck and my penchant for random medications, I'm guessing I'm not, at least.

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  5. With millennials being much less likely to own homes and even cars than older generations, I feel like this is the future.

    "Next up is the estate of Sebastian Smith, which consists of a cruiser bicycle, a Macbook pro, $13 in Uber credits, and 4 days at an AirBnB that were paid in advance."

    Also, with healthcare being a complete mess right now, his healthcare plan might actually just be a backpack full of random and questionable medications.

    Things aren't going to get any easier for guys like Chip.

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    1. That's kind of the boat I'm in. I have been on a month-to-month lease on my townhouse since 2008. If I died tomorrow, my family would just be mad they have to go through my books and CDs, which are basically my only property.

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  6. Pass up a backpack full of meds....come on...someone will be at your door shortly.

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    1. It's gotta have some street value, right?

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  7. I almost always worked on Labor Day, but that was the nature of the work I did so it didn't matter much to me. An estate of meds. Hate to think that's what I'd leave behind, but don't know what else I own that would still be meaningful to any of my heirs.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Sometimes, holidays are the best days to work at my office because there's no one else around to distract me.

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  8. Why on earth do people assume there will be an estate? It always boggles my mind.

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    1. I ive pretty light myself, by choice. I'm not going to have much at my death that has anything other than sentimental value.

      My clients tend to live light by necessity.

      I'm not sure we're rare cases at this point in history.

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  9. You never know, the medications might have had a good street value?

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    1. The people commenting here are going to turn this blog into "Breaking Bad."

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