Dream of: 05 May 1996 "Ingratitude"
I was sitting in a chair in front of a large brown desk, talking to the black-haired man (around 40 years old) who was sitting behind the desk. Even though he was sitting down, I knew he was a tall robust man. He resembled the actor Tim Robbins. He was a lawyer; I had come to discuss some legal work which I would be doing with him.
We were in the House in Patriot, which had been converted into a law office. The House had originally been designed so that the kitchen and living were one large room, around five meters by ten meters. We were now sitting in this room, which no longer retained any signs of being a kitchen, and which was now fully furnished as a law office. We were sitting in what had originally been the kitchen part, and over in what had been the dining room part, I had the vague sense of other people sitting at desks and working.
I had come to discuss the nature of the legal work which I would be doing there in the office. In that connection, I knew the black–haired lawyer with whom I was talking wasn't the actual boss. The boss was my grandmother Leacy, who I thought was in the front part of the House (the living room) which hadn't been converted into part of the law office. As the lawyer and I talked, I thought about the nature of the work I would be doing.
For several years I had had my own law office and had concentrated on bankruptcy law, mostly representing people whose homes were about to be foreclosed on, stopping the foreclosure and devising a plan for my clients to pay back the defaulted house payments (as well as certain other debts) over a period of usually five years. I knew I had been successful in my work, and my business had flourished, allowing me to earn and save far more than I had originally hoped.
Then, on a given date, I had simply stopped taking on new cases. I was satisfied to simply finish up the cases which I still had pending, and didn't want to continue representing new clients.
However, I still had many people who came to me asking for representation. They came from several different sources, but one business contact, a man I had known for many years, sent most. Once I had decided not to take on any new clients, I had been faced with the dilemma of what to tell new people who came to me seeking legal representation.
I thought I had found the answer to this. I knew my grandmother Leacy had this law office in her House. And I had decided to refer all the new clients to her. I knew Leacy and the people in her law office knew little about bankruptcy; but I had decided to help them get underway. I would work for a while as Leacy's employee.
The bankruptcy cases were normally filed at the first of each month, just before foreclosure day. When the clients first came in to file a case, typically only the initial paper work necessary for the filing the bankruptcy case in the court was done. After the initial bankruptcy petition had been filed, additional more extensive paperwork which listed all the debtor's assets, debts, income, etc. must be filed within 15 days. In addition, the plan of repayment of debts must be filed within the 15 days.
I knew it was now around the third of May, and that I had sent the first batch of bankruptcy clients to my grandmother around April the tenth. Actually when I had sent the clients, I had met with the clients and done the initial paperwork which had been necessary to file their cases. Now, since it was more than 15 days later, all the rest of the bankruptcy paperwork should have been prepared and filed – a task which was supposed to have been performed by the black–haired attorney who looked like Tim Robbins who was sitting across from me.
As my conversation with the attorney continued, I slowly began to have dire misgivings. From the way he talked, and from the way he was avoiding my questions, I was beginning to believe that he hadn't done the work he had been supposed to do. I first politely, then more aggressively, probed, trying to uncover the truth. Finally he admitted that not all the paperwork had been completed, but that he didn't think it was anything to be concerned about. I however, knew he was quite mistaken; if the paperwork weren't completed within the 15 days, the cases could be dismissed.
Disturbed by the attorney's nonchalance, I soon felt my anger mount when I heard his solution: he was going to let me meet with the clients whose paperwork hadn't been completed, and let me complete the paperwork. He seemed to think that job was going to be part of the work which I would be doing there.
I reacted immediately. I harshly told him I wasn't going to meet with the clients again, that that wasn't part of my job. Already I could foresee possible complications which could cause me serious problems. When I had originally come up with the plan of sending the clients to my grandmother, and had decided to do some work for her, I had intended to have no responsibilities to the clients. It was my grandmother who would have the responsibilities, and I would simply be her employee. But now if I met with the same clients again, I feared they would tend to look at me as their lawyer. Now I especially didn't want this to happen, because the cases were in danger of being dismissed, and I didn't want to be held responsible for that.
I adamantly told the attorney I had no intention of meeting again with the clients, and he just as adamantly insisted that I do so. As we both rose angrily to our feet, I could see that there was no point in continuing the conversation and that there was only one solution: I must talk to my grandmother. I turned away, walked to the door to the living room, and walked in.
My grandmother was sitting alone in the living room. She was dressed in dark clothing and seemed to have dark hair, although I couldn't clearly see her face. She seemed familiar to me, yet somehow distant, as if she were someone I barely knew.
I immediately began trying to explain the situation to her. I told her that the lawyer had been failing at his duties, and that she was running a risk of having the bankruptcy cases dismissed. I asked the lawyer on how many cases he had failed to complete the paper work. I was surprised when he said only two hadn't been completed. If that was all, maybe things weren't as bad as I had thought. But when I questioned the lawyer further, he admitted that actually 14 cases hadn't been completed.
I had been correct all along, and I was aghast that so many cases would have been left unattended. Yet as I tried to explain it all to my grandmother, I began to see I had yet another problem: she didn't seem to understand. Indeed, in the entire time I had been speaking with her she hadn't uttered a word. She seemed to have one hand holding up the forehead of her lowered head, as if she were thinking and trying to understand, but I had the feeling this was all beyond her, that what I was saying simply wasn't making sense.
Nevertheless I pressed forward with my argument. I thought if I pointed out the amount of money that was at stake she might begin to understand. I told her that the clients I sent her should bring her in more than $30,000 a month in income. I said that that was more money than many people earned in a year, and with that kind of income, she should be able to afford to hire adequate help to run the business. Still, however, she didn't respond.
As my frustration was about to get the best of me, I slowly realized two men and a woman had entered the room and were standing right next to me. I now recognized them as employees who had been working in the other room. With them they were carrying a large red paperback book and my black shoes, which I had apparently left in the other room. As they handed them to me, they told me I must leave. Clearly the lawyer had sent for them, and they were going to kick me out of the office.
I was quite angry. No one seemed to realize I had only been doing them all a favor, and I had little to gain by any of this. The small amount I was charging my grandmother was inconsequential to me. I knew I had it in my power to continue keeping all the new clients for myself. I was angered by everyone's ingratitude. I stood up and as I turned to leave, I said to everyone, "I won't be sending you any more clients."
Only now did I notice the black–haired attorney, standing by the wall, flinch, as if he finally realized he had make a mistake. Suddenly he had grasped that I was the linchpin in this operation, and that without me, his own job was in jeopardy. But it was too late. I headed for the door, but then stopped. I had left the red book lying on a table. I turned back to get it. I recognized it as a price guide to old record albums. I was unsure why I had brought it here with me, but I thought I might need it later, and I didn't want to leave it behind.
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