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Murphy's Law

This one is for the Tripwife! Oh, and NO POKER CONTENT. Sorry, boys and girls.

When I arrived at Court last Thursday, I was way ahead of schedule. Being the only associate admitted to practice in New Jersey meant that I had my own niche in the firm. If there was an insignificant NJ court appearance that did not warrant a partner, I was there, usually with a big grin on. I don't mind NJ Courts. Compared to New York, its all clothe napkins at dinner time and "How do you do?" to your fellow neighbor. New York is a box of tissues substituted for napkins and a "Get the fuck out of my way!"

This was my first time to Essex County, a name that conjured up a 2 hour car drive. In reality, Essex County actually contained Newark, NJ, an urban blight, and the Courthouse was right smack-dab in the middle of it all. Newark was also a short 25 minute train ride from the city, but to be careful, I left extra early. After all, I'd never been there before, not that anything was going to go wrong.

The train ride was smooth, and when I stepped out into the big bad streets of Newark, I immediately headed to the row of cabs. The first one was driven by a dark-skinned Nigerian. I eased into the back seat and told him my destination, "The courthouse, please." "dugiubuduguba," he responded. "Excuse me?" His words started to make the semblence of a conversation. "dugubuga Boulevard? dugabuga." "Um, yes, Martin Luther King Blvd side, please."

As we rolled out, I began to sweat in my suit. I reached for the window button, but nothing happened. "Excuse me, can you please unlock the window?" "dugabuga," he mumbled. I guess it meant that the windows were broken.

The sweat was pouring pretty heavily, but according to my mini-Yahoo map, I was more than halfway there. I looked at the cab meter and readied my money. The meter read...vacant. "Are you going to start the meter?" "dugabroken." Did anything work in this cab?

When we arrived, my Nigerian friend got me near the Courthouse. NEAR, not at, NEAR. Happy to exit the sweltering heat, I told him it was fine. I asked about the price. "Seven dollars." Money, apparently, is the same in any language. I did the math in my head. The sign outside the cab said $1.55, plus some amount around .50 or .40 for every 1/4 or 1/5 of a mile. I wasn't sure which. Whatever the case, my Yahoo map said we were going about 1 mile. But I wanted to get the fuck out of there. I handed him a twenty and didn't mention anything about his tip. He handed me back twelve. "Hold on, buddy. I want the full change." He spread his twenties for me to see. No more change. Is this ok? "You know you are fucking ripping me off." I slammed the door, exasperated, but ultimately accepting of the fact that the firm would be reimbursing me $8 for a $2.50 ride.

I was near the Courthouse, but not AT the Courthouse. I got on the phone and called my office. Randy, a secretary with more attitude than a pack of Garbage Pail Kids, picked up the line. She confirmed the address of the Court, 470 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., and gave me the room number for the Judge.

Now, this may raise some eyebrows in the blogo-room, but I'll just throw it out there: If you are on a street called Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., be careful. You are usually in a bad neighborhood. This was no exception. There were also about 5 municipal buildings, each about a city block long. None of them had clear signs. I was smack dab in the middle, and I decided that I'd spend my 15 minutes before the conference, perusing the area to figure out which one was 470. None had numbers. From my vantage, I could see that one building was some public records building. The first building in the lot seemed like a good place to start, so I trekked over. The signs outside talking about Justice seemed to suggest it was the Court building. I walked up the large steps to the front door. There was no handle. I walked around the building, passing 6 entrances that were not entrances. Finally, in the back, I saw a sign, "Old Court Building. New Court Building across the street."

Shit, I thought. Across the street meant nothing to me. Across the street were the four other nameless municipal buildings. But I was short on time, so I hit the pavement. By now, I had a nice coating of sweat on me. I passed the public records building and saw the next building over. It looked like just the place. Much like the Old Courthouse, though, the entrances were all non-entrances. Finally, I found the entrance.

The New Courthouse didn't look new from what I could see. I was apparently entering the building at basement level...the unfinished basement level. A court officer sat with his feet up and his hat low over the brim of his eyes. I rudely interrupted him by placing my bag on the metal detector conveyor belt. I entered the elevators and hit my destination floor. When the doors opened, I was in a short hallway. A very short hallway. My room, 400, was on one side of the hallway. The only other room, 401, was across the way.

As I confidently entered 400, I looked around. I was in an empty room, with a huge sign "Jury Room". This was not my location. Nervous, I entered 401. There were three court employees pretending to work. I asked one about my judge. "He's in the Old Courthouse." Shit. My watch told me I had 5 minutes. I took off running.

By the time I got to the Old Courthouse (again), I was exhausted and drenched. I made my way to the elevators...until I realized that I couldn't find them. There was noone around to ask. I bounded up a flight of stairs, a looooong flight of stairs. Apparently, courtrooms require 30 foot ceilings. Once on the second floor, I found a Court Officer entering the john. "Do you know where the elevators are?" He looked around confused. " wait, there. Yeah, I think there." His second guess was correct. I hit the button and waited patiently. Tired, wet, and patiently.

The Fourth floor looked right. There were a slew of attorneys waiting outside the room. I reached for the door and it openned. My watch told me that I was barely on time. Once inside, I went to the Court Clerk. She seemed a friendly sort. I'm always better with the ladies.

"I'm here for the L________ case." "Okay....I'm not seeing it here. Have a seat and I'll get back to you. We have a lot on today." I sat down and looked around. There were a half-dozen or more older attorneys chatting like they were old buddies. I sat alone, trying to compose myself and metally prepare for the judge.

"L______!" I heard my case called out. "Plaintiff!" I responded. No one else answered. "You can come here," the clerk called. Even without the other parties? Okay.

And then I was meeting the Judge.

"I'm surprised to see you here today." The judge stated matter-of-factly.
"Weren't we supposed to have a conference at 4?"
"Yes," he replied, "but a telephone conference."
My body deflated like a leaky balloon. "Maybe I should step outside and call you then, your honor." I tried to make light of the subject.
"Did you get the notice?" he handed me a sheet of paper.
"I suppose my office must have to think we had a conference. I was just told that I had to be here."
"Well, you were supposed to confirm it yesterday with the Court and the other parties."
I gave a blank stare.
"I'll put it over to next week. Follow the instructions, counselor."
"Yes sir. Thank you." I exited.

My first stop was the bathroom. I tossed my suit coat and tie into my bag. I splashed some water on my face.

My boss told me to cab it to the Court and back. He has a car though, and failed to realize that you couldn't just hail a cab in Newark. I didn't care anymore anyway. I started to walk.

To most people in my firm, the streets may have seemed dangerous. It was a low income neighborhood. To me, the breeze was blowing and I made my leisurely trek. My iPod kept me company.

Three hours wasted for nothing. I called into my office to find out how we had fucked up so bad. The Court never sent the notice. We had been told through another service about a Conference, without any details. Over the last week, I spent my time trying to get a new notice from the Court. I got it today, after the conference was ultimately waived by the defendants. It just goes to show, sometimes all the work in the world ain't worth shit unless you know where you are going and what you are doing.

posted by Jordan @ 10:59 AM,


At 5:43 PM, Blogger Iakaris aka I.A.K. said...

As soon as you mentioned you were on MLK I was nervous fer ya - in the words of Chris Rock "You on MLK?!? Run M*thaF*ckah Run!!!"

Sorry about the grim day. Is it wrong I found your secular hell amusing?

At 6:01 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

Iak, I submit my secular hell for your amusement. Someone might as well enjoy it. Plus, it was last week, so what little annoyance it made is gone.

I might've even gotten the MLK thing from Chris Rock. All I know is, whenever I see an MLK Blvd, it usually is a bad neighborhood.

At 7:40 AM, Blogger Pokerwolf said...

You are correct about MLK Blvd. The Chris Rock quote I know about it goes:

"If you're on MLK Boulevard, there's some VIOLENCE goin' down!"

Do not worry about your work problems, mi amigo, We'll right your ship on Saturday. See you then!

At 9:07 AM, Blogger Jordan said...

I can't say this enough. As annoying as that scenario was, I don't post it here to feel sorry for myself. I just think its funny.

At 10:54 AM, Blogger TripJax said...

That last sentence rings so damn true. TripWife will enjoy this one, albeit a miserable experience for you. If it helps, been there done that...just a little different scenario.

At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only thing that is missing from this is you playing three-card-monte to try to win the cab fare money back. For some reason I see you on the corner of MLK blvd doing this.


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