Dream of: 19 December 1996 "Cash Register"
On a piece of paper lying in front of me, I was working on a complicated mathematical problem. The problem contained two different equations, and each equation contained several variables. However instead of the variables being in the normal form of "x, y, or z," the variables were represented by tiny little pictures, one of which looked like the picture of a small car.
I strained my mind, trying to see how the two equations were related. After a while, I began to see that my main difficulty lay in some fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship of the two equations. Unlike what I had expected, a variable in the first equation didn't have the same value as the same variable in the second equation. This disparity in the value of the same variable confused me, but I was still determined to try to figure out the problem.
Looking more closely at the figures, I saw that there was also a drawing on the page, and that the equations were actually inside of and a part of the drawing. I had to concentrate on the drawing to understand what it was, but finally I realized that it was the drawing of a cash register. I was looking at the back of the cash register, part of which had been cut away so that I could see some of the internal workings of the inside of the register. The equations were on the inside portion of the drawing of the cash register, and I now began to realize that the equations contained information about how the cash register functioned.
Now it began to make a little sense to me why I hadn't been successful at understanding the equations. I saw that the equations were needed to understand how the cash register worked, and how to repair the cash register if it were broken. But I had never had much skill in working with mechanical devices, and I certainly had no idea how to repair a cash register. This lack of mechanical ability was something which I wished I could change. I wished there was some kind of machine – even a cash register for instance – which I knew how to fix. I wondered what I would have to do to learn such a skill. I had never gone to any kind of trade school, but now I wondered if it might be possible for me to go to a school which taught courses on how to repair cash registers. I thought it was possible. I imagined such a course would last about a year, and when I finished, I would have a skill which I could always use.
But I was unable to pursue this little fantasy longer, for my attention was suddenly commanded by the scene around me, and I raised my head to look around the room – a court room. I knew the mathematical problem on which I had been focusing had something to do with the scene before me, but I no longer had time to think how the problem and the courtroom interrelated, for I had to now focus my full attention of the action in the courtroom. For I was an attorney, and a trial had already started.
While focusing on the math problem, I had missed the first few minutes of the trial, but now I began to pick up on the action. I vaguely recalled the bare details of the case. I was defending a woman who had been accused of driving while intoxicated on alcohol. I knew the woman had indeed had two drinks before driving. However, I wasn't sure of several crucial points, such as whether the woman had taken a breathalyzer test, or of whether there was some kind of legal presumption that a person who had taken two drinks was legally intoxicated.
A female prosecutor was standing in the middle of the room, apparently questioning a witness, although I didn't actually see a witness. What I did see was the jury, which was sitting over to my right. It took me a few seconds to realize that the prosecutor appeared to be talking to the jurors, and that the jurors were also talking to her. The judge – a large middle-aged man, dressed in black, sitting on the high bench to my left – seemed to have no problems with the prosecutor talking to the jury. I, however, realized the prosecutor and the jurors should not be communicating with each other that way, and when one of the jurors said something to the prosecutor, I blurted out, "Miss Manchester!"
The juror whom I had addressed as "Miss Manchester" was a large black woman (about 40 years old). I knew her last name was "Manchester," and it had been my intention – by speaking her name – simply to make her realize she shouldn't be talking to the prosecutor. However, I immediately realized that by so doing, I also had talked directly to a juror, and that I should have in fact turned to the judge and asked the judge to tell the juror not to talk to the prosecutor. But when I sheepishly looked back at the judge, I saw that he had paid no mind to what I had said, and he sat placidly as the prosecutor continued to address the jury.
At about this time, either I or someone else picked up a telephone receiver, and I was able to hear a conversation taking place. The woman on one end of the phone was an attorney who was talking with another attorney on the other end of the phone. The woman attorney was talking about a case which was similar to mine, where the judge had allowed the prosecutor and the jurors to talk with each other. In that case, the defendant had lost and had been convicted of the charge. But the woman attorney on the phone said that there was no doubt that due to the judge's error, the conviction would be overturned on appeal.
This news gave me some small measure of hope. I thought that at least if I lost this case, I should have a good basis for appeal, and I would probably be able to have the conviction overturned. However, I knew that appeal was such a lengthy process. I would have to wait a long time to know the result of the appeal. Waiting was one of the worst things I disliked about practicing law. As long as the appeal was pending, the case would always be on my mind, always generating a certain amount of tension and angst within me. I just wished I could win the case right here and now and not have to go through an appeal. Perhaps it wasn't too late, and if I would pay closer attention, maybe I could still win.
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