Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I know, I know, my 15 minutes of fame are now over, and I should get back to the really important things in life - like blogging about knitting. Unfortunately, while I was on trial, I kind of forgot to pay my bills. Luckily, as the water guy drove up to my front door to shut the water off, I had a check in hand. Wasn't so lucky about the DSL line . . . but the Verizon guy who helped me with my reorder had seen me on the news and I got the Verizon celebrity treatment - hmm, can't place that order today, will have to call you back tomorrow.

Penitent Knitters met at Cosi on Sunday, sat outside in this oddly brilliant November weather, and watched the world go by. Cosi is down the street from the Wachovia Bank, and there used to be this extremely overweight, blind lady who sat in front of the bank playing her recorder. One night, a couple of years ago, while I was making a withdrawal from the money machine, she said, "can you take me to the bathroom?" I continued my transaction - she couldn't possibly be talking to me. And then she asked again - some other sucker was standing in line behind me, and she asked him to watch her "luggage." So, I took her to the bathroom at Cosi, since she was banned from Barnes & Noble, for making a mess in the stall. I deposited her at Cosi. No, she said, you have to wait, you have to check the stall to make sure I didn't make a mess, or I'm not allowed to come back. Uch. So, I waited, and waited, and waited . . . finally she came out, followed by a stench. Check the stall, she said. I peaked my head in, fine fine, I said - as I tried to rush her out of the coffee shop. But there was no rushing her. She took my arm again, and began her snail-like saunter to the door. I felt like dragging her by her earlobes out the freakin' door before I ended up stuck, cleaning up the explosion in the bathroom. We made it out, and there was her stuff by the money machine, and the sucker behind me turned out not to be such a sucker, and was gone. Is that young man still there? Yep, I said, he's still there.

So, I left her on her milk crate by the bank, and began to wonder, does a good deed count if you hated doing every second of it? Does good will count if it's done without good will? And, I thought about my clients - I don't like half of them, hardly know most of them. Where's the warm fuzzy feeling from helping my poor fellow man through the legal system?

But, there's always a moment, when I'm on trial for an extended period of time - it happens in a second - when you really care, and you'll be absolutely devastated if you lose. Like when I tried the baby shaker's case. We sat in the cell together, while we waited for the verdict. I had put on character testimony through his aunt and a cousin, and I finally asked him, where are your parents? And, it turned out his dad was in prison, a lifetime sufferer of mental illness, and his mother was also in prison, having made three sales of heroin to an undercover cop, for a total aggregate sentence of 15-30 years. And, at the moment, I thought, it'll really suck if we lose, this kid deserves a second chance.

And, during this trial, it happened again. My client was late for court, and I had to go down to the metal detector lines to hurry him up. He went into a panic, and instead of waiting for the elevator, we took the stairs - he took them four at a time. This boyish bounding, the long strides - the striving - and in that moment, I thought, I won't sleep for 4-8 years if this kid goes to jail. And, when the jury had a verdict, and we were waiting for the Judge to come out, he was singing a little song to himself. I asked him what it was, and he said oh, nothing, and I said, as long as it's not Jailhouse Rock. He smiled. And, he smiled the same smile when the jury said not guilty. The paper reported that he mouthed thank you to the jury, but I know I was looking at him, and that thank you was for me.

And, luckily, things turned out better than having to clean up after a blind woman who missed the potty.

Philly Inky

Sports Illustrated


synaesthetica said...

Wendy, you are...you are...touching. I'm filled with admiration not only for your legal acumen and committment, but also for your extraordinary writing gift. Your insight is impressive.

Knitty Delicious said...

I've missed you so! I've seen and followed recorder lady, as I call, her for years. That was a very interesting, enlightening story. I'd like to come to knitting on Sunday...and maybe I'll see you tomorrow at Rosie's? CEB
ps Dr Soli and I had a lovely chat about you!