July 01, 2013

Sidebar: A Bug Flew in My Eye

How do you deal with a story so outrageous that it defies belief?

Kenneth P. Nolan

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Sometimes I just love being a lawyer. And not just the times when the jury asked for six cups of coffee and a calculator, or when the judge granted my summary judgment motion, which made me look invincible in the admiring eyes of influential clients. Occasionally, it’s the ordinary events that cause a smile, that are so absurd they’re priceless.

In law school, I interviewed with a small, respected firm that specialized in corporate and estate work. The senior partner was a bit stuffy—probably like I am now—so I wasn’t surprised when I received a “we’ll keep your résumé on file” letter. After litigating for a few years, I cringed whenever I pictured myself in a hushed office writing generation-skipping trusts or calmly suggesting to the handsome, wealthy couple that perhaps relocation to Florida would avoid hundreds of thousands paid to useless New York politicians. It really wasn’t the work I feared; it was the solitude, the drafting of documents, the silent study of tax or Medicare regs. I dreaded the lack of interaction with people—all sizes, all shapes, all human.

I’ve always lived among too many people—in my bedroom with my two brothers, in school where 50 students per class was the norm, even at Ebinger’s bakery where a line always ran out the door. Heck, my congressman, Hugh Carey, won election because he plastered his campaign literature with photos of his 14 children. Others who were raised on these same sidewalks fled the overflowing trash cans, the stinking subways, the noisy neighbors. The suburbs were “so peaceful,” they’d brag. “You don’t even see anyone.” They were content in their seclusion with tranquil days, serene nights. Only warbling birds—not grinding garbage trucks—disturbed the stillness of their morn. 

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