Friday, November 10, 2006

Dazed and Confused

After much procrastination, I finally decided to go to the police station to get fingerprinted for my bar application.

I arrived around 1:30, only to be told that a) the officer who takes fingerprints is out to lunch, and b) they don't take credit or debit cards. So off I went to get cash and kill some time browsing K-Mart (let me tell you, this is exciting stuff).

I came back at 2:30, paid my fee and sat down to fill out my fingerprint cards. There was one other person, a middle-aged woman, in the waiting room, and apparently she heard the clerk and me talking about the bar application process.

Freaky Lady, talking to the clerk: I have to go to Wal-Mart. They have distilled water for $0.64 a gallon!

Clerk: What?

Freaky Lady: Distilled water! $0.64 a gallon at Wal-Mart!

Clerk, still puzzled: Oh.

Freaky Lady, to me: What kind of law are you going to practice?

Me: I don't know. I might not even practice law, but I'm taking the bar anyway.

[You'd think this might end the conversation, but it didn't, because I'm a freak magnet.]

Freaky Lady: You should help children. We need more lawyers to stand up for the children and protect children.

[Ummm... what?]

Me, figuring out the obscure coding system provided by the bar examiners: Mm hmm.

Freaky Lady: I got divorced and he got mad and got custody to get back at me. I tried to tell the court all of these things but they wouldn't let me get it in. They wouldn't let me get in what the child psychiatrist said. They need lawyers who only represent the child.

[What is it about me that compels people to tell me their entire life stories? Does this woman not have a mental filter that says, "By the way, it's kind of weird to start talking to complete strangers about very personal matters"?]

Me, wanting badly to end this: They do. It's called CASA, Court-Appointed Special Advocates.

Freaky Lady: There was one, but the judge ignored him. I tried to tell the court so many things but they wouldn't listen and so they gave custody to the abuser. Even though the child psychiatrist recommended only supervised visitation. And I had to hire an attorney from Atlanta to help me because all of the attorneys here are too afraid to stand up to Judge S and point out that he is biased. Judge S just ignored everything and gave custody to the abuser.

[The law student in me REALLY wants to point out her faulty reasoning in asserting that there are not enough lawyers to "stand up for the children."]

Me: Well, it sounds like the problem is not the attorneys, then, but the judge.

Freaky Lady: Judge S just got re-elected. D would have been so much better I think.

Me: I know.

Freaky Lady: So now the child is being abused and [something about a car and blah blah blah blah].

Me, looking for any statement to definitively end this exchange: The law school has a family violence clinic that helps people seek protective orders and the like. It's not very expensive. You should check it out if you feel like you need that kind of help.

Freaky Lady: Good luck with the bar! I've heard it's hard!

Me: Our law school has a 90-something percent pass rate for first-time takers.

Freaky Lady: Wow, that's outstanding!

Me: No. Our state bar is just not very discriminating in its attorneys' competence.

About that time, an officer came to take Freaky Lady's report for someone who had written her a bad check. Which was awesome, because I was about to go postal. And I don't want any incidents on my bar application that require explanation. That would look fantastic on my record: "I kicked a woman's ass and got booked on assault because she annoyed the piss out of me telling me her sob story while I was waiting to get fingerprinted. Do you want my mugshot to go along with my fingerprints, then?" Awesome.

It's not that I don't have sympathy for people in bad situations, because I do. In this case, though, I was dubious about her claims of "abuse" and I'm fairly certain that if the judicial system here was rampantly corrupt, I'd know about it since I have several friends working for local judges, prosecutors and lawyers. And the kid is probably better off with her dad than with her whacked-out, socially inappropriate mother, in any case.

Last time I checked, there was no sign on my forehead saying, "PLEASE RELEASE YOUR INNER FREAK. I AM A FREAK MAGNET." So what gives?

1 comment:

Butterflyfish said...

If you figure out how to remove that sign, let me know. I think its permantly affixed to my forehead as well.

I wish I could respond with something equally inapproriate, like "Hey, did you know that humans don't really taste like chicken -- they're more like lamb. Great with mint jelly."

If they manage *not* to run away screaming, say "Oh, I thought we were sharing inappropriate personal information. My bad."