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Oh Pooh

I Am Willing To Make The Break That We Are On The Brink Of.

A couple decades ago I was a partner in a small law firm. Two decades ago seems far away, but given the current pandemic last year feels like the distant past so my perspective is skewed.

One of my partners was the epitome of dark thoughts. If the question was “is the glass half empty or half full?” he would say it was probably poison. We used to refer to him as Eeyore around the office. I got tagged as Tigger because asked the same question, I would see a free drink. I am not sure this is what Milne had in mind when he wrote the stories. Then again, I would gladly welcome the leadership of a 12 year old boy with some sense right now.

Once after I helped a client get a good verdict, Eeyore pulled me aside from the glad handing and excitement to remind me that I had to start work on a new case Monday. The Eeyores of the world have their place but a party is not one of them, unless you are trying to limit how long everyone stays and keep the bar tab low.

I think that your point of view can influence life’s outcomes and if you expect things to be good they probably will. Eeyore on the other hand, would say that he was simply being a realist and seeing things as they are. It was a question of perspective.

Sometimes perspective depends on where you stand. For those who remember baseball- America’s pastime, hot dogs, ball parks and all of that- homeruns are a perfect example. For the hitter, a homerun is a moment for exultation. For the pitcher that served it up it is a moment to hang his head.

So it is that I am trying to Tigger up a little bit in the face of COVID. Given the toll the virus has taken on lives and livelihoods, this is no easy feat. I personally know people who have lost loved ones or seen their financial lives ruined. I cannot wait for life to resume some semblance of normalcy. However, some of the adaptations we have gotten from the pandemic life can stick around. For example:

You didn’t have to be there, after all. Turns out my presence is not all that urgently requested. Mediators who always wanted the parties at mediation to appear in person have conducted hundreds of successful mediations remotely via videoconference. Either “being there” was never as critical as we were led to believe or the mediators needed to change their pitch to stay in the game. (I apologize for the continued, strained baseball references but it is the end of summer and I am a creature of habit.)

While I miss going to restaurants and events, I don’t miss leaving my office for some court appearances. Even a five minute hearing used to require at least an hour of time traveling, parking and waiting. Courts have gotten very efficient at setting up video hearings which run smoothly most of the time. Some judges are even conducting these from home or perhaps an abandoned beach somewhere. If I never attend another in person case status conference, it will be too soon.

RIP Snowdays. There is no greater joy to a school aged child than the windfall of weather called the snowday. While their loss will be a great sadness this winter to school children, work from home means less time lost commuting to and from work. It has also resulted in lower dry cleaning bills and fewer minutes spent agonizing about what goes with the polka dotted dress shirt I have on. (The correct answer, according to my wife, is nothing.)

Several big law firms are asking why they pay tens of thousands of dollars for rent in tony high rises that no one comes to anymore, including their employees. Expect to see office space repurposed as apartments and condos.

I’ll pick up dinner. From the front porch. As much as I love going out to eat or grab a cocktail with friends, my checking account has favorably noticed the lack of such events. Having food delivered almost feels like being in college, except that more than just pizza is on the menu. While I moved to online shopping some time ago, online food delivery never got traction at my house. Even groceries show up at the doorstep now so long as you live in at least a semi urban area.

For a non-foody like me, eating out means someone else does all the cooking and cleaning up. Delivery food means the same thing if you throw away the dishes afterwards. Delivery means never having to get dressed up (or even dressed) to go shopping. Then again, wearing a mask serves much the same function- if folks don’t know who I am, why do I care if they see me in my pajamas and slippers at the store?

I miss time with friends. I miss sporting events and the theater. I miss human interaction that isn’t socially distanced, behind an actual mask. But to paraphrase the Prophet Pooh, in days like these when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.  People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day. And now I can do more of it, from home.

©2020 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. He is short and fat and proud of that. Comments or criticisms about this column may be sent to Under Analysis via email at