Working in a non-profit, legal organization means I receive a hefty amount of phone calls, many of which, I regret to report, are from stupers (short for unimaginably stupid persons). I received one such call from a woman who, at first, sounded like you and me. But then she rapidly showed her stuper stripes. This was not my first encounter with “Stella.” She’d called before, asking me to “research and locate” three attorneys for her that had been recommended by a postal worker, who evidently used lawyers regularly, but had difficulty remembering their names or much else. The only clues Stella provided me were these:
Stella: The first lawyer’s initials are either ESB, BSE, DBA or TBA. The second Lawyer has an office on State Street (take note, dear reader, there are about 185 legal offices on State Street), and the third lawyer carries a Louis Vuitton briefcase. I think she’s a woman.
You might find this a bit bizarre, but believe it or not, I receive many requests from people searching for particular attorneys located in my county, and the only helpful information they provide goes like this:
“He wears Hawaiian shirts a lot” or “His name is John” or “She’s petite and pretty.” I swear.
I’d like to think these callers have heard of my astute, private investigator type and even telepathic capabilities. Only I don’t have any.
Stella, however, was deeply impressed with my sweet skills because I found her an attorney with the initials “ESB” who had an office on State Street and who carried a Louis Vuitton briefcase. But in the end, Stella decided the attorney I’d unearthed really couldn’t help her after all. She elaborated:
Stella: I need a lawyer who has experience in the Federal Courts.
Me: I only know of one such attorney, and his experience is with military bases.
Stella: My case is indirectly related to the military.
Me: He can’t help unless it’s directly related.
Stella: Well, my case is indirectly and directly related.
Me: What’s your case about?
Stella: It’s about family law, criminal law, civil rights, bankruptcy, social security, personal injury, real estate, defamation, intellectual property…. (I had time to run out of the office and across the street to Nordstrom to buy a pair of running shoes, which I knew I’d need after this conversation, as running is excellent therapy; I returned, not having missed any of her conversation)…animal husbandry and maritime law.
Me: (slightly out of breath) Sounds like a complex case. Too complex for us to handle.
Stella: I need a prosecutor and a defender. What does the guy do that you mentioned who practices Federal law? Is he both of those?
Me: He’s a negotiator.
Stella: That’s exactly what I need. Give me his name.
I rapidly considered excuses to get off the phone. Before I could spit one out, she continued:
Stella: Hold it. I’m talking to you from a disposable cell phone because I thought it was safe.
Me: (to myself) Aren’t throwaway phones only used by Al Qaeda, the CIA and those with a tendency to drop cell-phones down the toilet or to throw at stout, Wal-Mart type workers and paparazzi?
Stella: Gosh darn it! I’m not safe here, after all. Some guy wearing dark, mirrored sunglasses is watching me. They’re watching me all the time. Just hold it. I’m being followed again. I’ll have to talk to you later.
And that was that.
In my stupidity studies, I’ve learned that a necessary component to battling stupidity is nonresistance. The Chinese say that water is the most powerful element on earth, because it is perfectly nonresistant. It can wear away a rock, and sweep all before it. I think it’s often a good idea to make like water when confronted with stupidity.