Saturday, June 23, 2012

Lunch on the Day of the Court Hearing

     We were told by Judge Jones to take a lunch recess in the middle of the Court Hearing.
     I had not had a true lunch break in twenty years.
     Wow!  It was really fun!  We went to Emilio's and ordered amarillos, tostones, black beans and rice.  I sat with my employees and the four lawyers who were either representing or about to represent me.
     Taking a lunch break is a magnificent idea.  It allows a person to draw a deep breath, move from morning to afternoon, speculate about life, plan activities after work, and generally act like a human being, not a workhorse.
     In Switzerland, where the work ethic is intense, it's considered cause for dismissal when an employee decides to "take lunch at my desk."  The diligent Swiss people mandate lunch breaks either because they know it improves work performance or simply because they are a civilized race.
     In general I eat a few handfuls of buckwheat granola, a bowl of grapefruit, or some stir-fried tofu and vegetables left over from my weekend cooking for "lunch"--usually while I'm looking up ICD-9 codes or writing the copious chart documentation necessitated by insurance carriers,  in between doing office visits and surgeries.  Most days there are no breaks in the schedule and I skip "lunch."  I know it's wrong.  I just can't relax over lunch when I hear someone hacking up infected sputum in the next room, or I know there's a patient with acute abdominal pain in the wings.  Sometimes little kids are running up and down the hallway, and I know their mother's patience is wearing thin:  she wants to finish their immunizations and well-child exams and get out the door.
     On a few occasions I have taken lunch at a restaurant with one of my lawyers while listening to variations of the stomach-wrenching explanation for why my case isn't moving along:  "There's-nothing-we-can-do."  It's not what I would call "doing lunch."
     Except for doctors and providers, all my employees are required to take lunch breaks.  I tell them they need to leave the office and let work roll out of their minds.
     On the day of the Hearing it was refreshing to leave the courtroom and walk around downtown Gainesville in the sunshine with the wind blowing through my hair.  Even though the Hearing wasn't going very well I felt I had a number of good people on my side.  All of them were confused, nevertheless they were backing me up.  At the restaurant we aligned three tables and were squeezed together like old friends.  The lawyers laughed and told stories, and we laughed along with them.
     Then I said I wanted to get up and sit with the prosecutors and FBI agents, who were seated at another table across the room.  We had all chosen the same restaurant!
     "Oh my God, no you don't!" said my four lawyers in unison.  "You can't do that!"
     "I won't talk about the case," I reassured them.  "I just want to tell them a little about Gainesville and this neat restaurant, and suggest that they check out the Hippodrome."
     They grabbed my sleeve and forced me back into my seat.  "You're crazy," they said in hushed voices, looking around in every direction.  It was as though a terrorist had just been set loose.  "Don't you know what they could do?  They could take everything you say and twist it around until they think they can prove that you've admitted your own guilt."
     "But I'm not guilty."
     "They don't know that.  And they don't care."
     This was an important point on the maturation curve for me from naive, faithful, law-abiding citizen to paranoid, affronted, closed-mouthed defendant.  When I walked back to Court with everyone else the sun didn't seem so warm.  It felt as though I had cement in my shoes, and I was glad I hadn't chosen to become a lawyer.

No comments:

Post a Comment