A couple months ago, my lovely wife said we needed to take a vacation- we hadn’t had a week off together since our wedding and ensuing honeymoon, or as she calls it, when I hijacked her last vacation for the ambush marriage ceremony. I asked her why I would want to take a vacation when the last one cost me a half interest in all my stuff. Needless to say, I just took a week off from work for vacation.
For you newlyweds and soon to be weds out there, my reply is what we old married men call a “wrong” answer. Funny maybe, but wrong.
While lawyers at a large law firm worry that they won’t be missed when they are out, those of us at small shops have the exact opposite fear. Due to my great supporting cast, the firm didn’t fold and the world didn’t end while I was gone. Duly noted.
We took a trip to New England to see the fall colors- “leaf peep” to the locals. I can’t imagine a less stressful time than driving in the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont with the only goal being to ooh and ahh at the tree colors. Yes, we have trees here at home in Missouri but evidently the colors aren’t the same as when you go halfway across the country. Also notably different in New England was the lack of billboards alongside the road. The roads in flyover country are lousy with them.
My wife is trying to see all of the state capitols and our visit included a trip to the New York state house. Lots of history in that beautiful building to be sure. As we learned about the building process, I imagined the hundreds of craftsmen running around at once on this huge project. I couldn’t help but think of the safety violations and workers’ compensation issues that occurred. Even on vacation, I am a trial lawyer.
Perhaps the hardest thing for me to grasp during vacation is my lack of control. I have spent a couple decades running my own law firm where most of the directions I take are of my choosing. Things may not end up the way I think they will but at least I have a hand on the rudder. On vacation, someone else chooses what your sleeping arrangement looks like and whether you have a fluffy pillow or a small one. Someone else makes dinner or mixes your cocktails. Given my lack of cooking skills, that part isn’t really a stretch, but if you go to a public place to eat or drink, someone else most likely chooses what is on the television.
I have purposely avoided television news for two decades now. Ditto for all non-legal industry newspapers. Not only don’t I mind being out of the know, I prefer it. It is more difficult to avoid current events with the prevalence of social media, but I try.
While on vacation, the latest supreme court seat was filled. It was tough to be out without seeing the hearings on the news, or talking heads discussing them. Everyone had a position on the hearings, predictable once you knew a person’s political tribe.
Regardless of your political leanings however, this process was unsettling for lawyers. To see a prospective justice on the hotseat was troubling enough, but the temperament he displayed when he spoke made me palpably uncomfortable.
I don’t know a trial lawyer who hasn’t gotten cross wise with a judge and taken an earful. From the lawyer’s point of view, it is slightly embarrassing at best and precedes a sanction at worst. Watching a candidate speaking with such furor that spittle flew from his mouth is the worst I have seen, and that includes personally being on the receiving end of a ten-minute long buzz sawing in open court.
The Supreme Court has a way of changing folks. A survey of decisions over the years has proven that every justice has a surprise vote or two during their time on the court. I suspect the newest justice will also surprise his detractors. While my political leanings certainly don’t line up with those his, I hope the hearings do not reflect his temperament when he dons his robe. Fortunately for me, I will never be on the receiving end of his fury, no matter what.
It was disturbing to see the vast chasm between the supporters and detractors of the judge and the confirmation process. I heard opinions which relied on facts that simply didn’t exist. Not merely data which was subject to varying interpretations, but truly baseless contentions. Some might admire people who don’t let little things like facts get in the way of their opinions. Probably better if those opinions are saved for favorite sports teams and ice cream than politics.
Now that I am back home, I can again control my exposure to news and current events. It is truly blissful to remain a little ignorant. Politics and current events, like sausage, are more palatable if you don’t look too closely. There is a fine line between blissful ignorance and abject stupidity of course. Finding that line is harder and harder in our post fact world.
©2018 under analysis llc. under analysis is a nationally syndicated column. Spencer Farris is the founding partner of The S.E. Farris Law Firm in St Louis, Missouri. Even though he graduated from an ag school, he knows that “most bestest” isn’t grammatically correct- he learned that in the notes on his senior thesis. Comments or criticisms about this column may be sent c/o this newspaper or directly to Under Analysis via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.