Friday, February 15, 2008

Stupid can be clients, too!


Some years ago, back in the early days of my bankruptcy practice, (late-90s?) I have a client show up first thing one morning with some documents in hand. I didn't think anything about it, because we had a hearing later that morning. Note that his attendance at this hearing was mandatory; if he missed it, his case would be dismissed.

About an hour later, I wandered out past reception and noticed that he was sitting in the waiting room, reading a magazine. About twenty minutes after that, he appears at my office door (apparently the receptionist left her desk for a moment) asking if I remembered who he was and if I was going to the hearing this morning, or if he was on his own.

As much as I was tempted to tell him he was on his own, I restrained--and told him I'd be leaving for court in just a few minutes. He then proceeded to ask me question after question about the documents he was asked to bring to the hearing. Question after question. He tried to go over the documents with me, for which I didn't have time, and I told him to just take them to the hearing and to go ahead and leave for court. He finally took my advice and left for court.

Oh yeah...turns out he'd told the receptionist that he was waiting for me and had simply sat in the waiting room for over an hour. But, as Ron Popeil says, that's not all!

When I finally got my files together and made it to the hearing, I was fifteen minutes behind him. He was nowhere to be found. Nowhere. Now, I should explain in advance that this hearing room is on the second floor of the court building. The hearing room is also clearly marked. The elevators dominate the building lobby.

So I waited. And waited. And waited. Still no client.

The hearing had started and they were ready to call his case when he came running down the hall, huffing and puffing. I grabbed his documents from him, turned them in, he answered a couple quick questions, and we left. When I got back out into the hall, he explained that he had locked himself in the stairwell.

For over twenty minutes.

Fifteen of those minutes were spent hammering on the door and yelling for help. Some kind gentleman finally heard him and let him through.

He locked himself in the stairwell for twenty minutes and almost missed a crucial hearing.

Now, I can understand that most of the doors in the stairway are locked from the office side for security reasons. They are, after all, security doors in a "secure" public building. But I'm also pretty sure that fire code regulations would require the first floor door--leading into the lobby--remain unlocked and accessible from either side.

He locked himself in the stairwell for twenty minutes, screaming and knocking, and almost missed a crucial hearing when the door several floors was unlocked and open.

He locked himself in the stairwell for twenty minutes with an open door three floors below him. That's like claiming to have locked yourself in a convertible with the top down.

(We won't get into the fact that the receptionist LET him sit for an hour without telling me he was there allegedly waiting for me. That's another rant for another day.)

I'm guessing that someday, if I remain practicing long enough, I WILL meet a client who HAS locked themselves in a convertible with the top down.

Then I will have seen everything.

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