Dream of: 26 September 1997 "Irony"

I had gone to a lawyer's office in a neighboring county to seek some legal advice about the possibility that I would file a personal bankruptcy for myself.

I sat down in the waiting room for a short while before being let into the attorney's office. At first only two attorneys were in the office; but by the time we were all seated, two additional attorneys had entered, so finally four attorneys were sitting around, listening to what I had to say. They were all fairly young (probably in their late 30s).

At first I was a bit concerned about talking about such personal matters with so many people. One of the lawyers sensed my concern and told me he could give me documents showing that they were all lawyers. Somewhat relieved, I told them I assumed that everything was strictly confidential and nothing would go out of this room. They gave me their assurances.

I had many mental reservations about filing bankruptcy. I felt especially embarrassed at the prospect because I myself had been a bankruptcy attorney and had represented so many clients in bankruptcies. I still hadn't decided I would actually file bankruptcy. Basically I just wanted some advice about some of the questions I had about what would happen if I were to file bankruptcy.

I was worried I wouldn't be able to file because I had so much cash, over $150,000.00. Besides the cash, I owned my home free and clear of any mortgage, and of course I also had my personal property. Although the exact amount of my debt was unclear, I obviously had more than enough money to pay all my debts. So how could I avoid paying my debts, without losing any of my property?

Having handled so many bankruptcies myself, I was well aware that a bankruptcy debtor was allowed to keep a certain amount of property, which was called "exempt property." If property were classified under one of the exemptions, then no creditor would have any right to take any of the property. It was the exemptions which I wanted to talk to the attorneys about.

I first told the attorneys I realized I wasn't the typical bankruptcy debtor, because I already knew a great deal about bankruptcy law. I explained that I was well aware of the nature of exemptions. But I told them it was exactly on the point of exemptions that I needed advice. I began explaining the details of the property which I had, telling them about all the cash. I explained that I knew this was going to be a problem, that I didn't see how I could file bankruptcy and still keep all the cash. That was where I needed some creative advice.

I told them I wasn't concerned with morals, scruples, principles or ethics. To myself, I reflected that I had recently been thinking about those very terms, trying to distinguish subtleties of meaning among them. I continued to explain to the attorneys I was only concerned with what was legal, and what I could get away with. I was well aware of the wide breach between what was legal and what was moral.

One of the attorneys smiled to another attorney, as if to say that the attorneys sometimes joked among themselves about filing bankruptcy for themselves. Now here was an attorney in front of them who was actually seriously thinking of filing bankruptcy. However, it was soon clear that none of them took me seriously. As soon as they had heard how much money and property I had, they seemed to consider the whole matter as simply amusing that I would even think there was any possibility that I could actually file bankruptcy. Two of the attorneys quickly left the room, as if to say that wasting time on this matter was pointless. The remaining two attorneys also obviously thought there was little point in continuing. I felt embarrassed for having brought the whole thing up.

***

I was in the small front office of the Gay Street House. I had come to my senses and realized that the whole idea of my filing bankruptcy on myself was completely unworkable and that I would never put myself in bankruptcy. In fact, I now realized what I really needed to be doing was thinking of practicing law again.

Now, as I looked around the office in my father's House, I realized this would be an ideal place for me to practice law. The House was located right downtown. It was extremely large with plenty of converted office space. My father had always hoped I would someday return to Portsmouth and practice law. And I now realized that that was exactly what I should do.

Suddenly, however, I remembered something: my father had only recently signed a contract to sell his House. He had lived in the House for over 30 years, and only now had he finally decided to sell. And only now had I finally decided to return and practice law in the House. Now that it was too late. How ironic.

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