Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Call in the Life of Law

So I realized I have this funny work-related story that I'm pretty sure I can safely tell without getting in trouble. A lot of my family and a couple of friends already know this, because it was just too classic not to share. So here's the scoop.

Up until recently I was practicing as debtors' counsel in the bankruptcy field. As part of my job, I would answer calls from first-time callers. These are people who are interested either in filing for bankruptcy, or asking questions about the process, or are price shopping for fees, etc. A lot of people, in an effort to get additional information about bankruptcy without actually having to meet with me, would tell me all or part of their story - that part of their recent past that had put them in the position that they need to file for bankruptcy relief. But one caller I will never forget. (Please keep in mind that I feel I can safely tell you this because this woman never became a client of mine and never disclosed any sort of information that I could possibly identify her with.) The conversation went something like this:

Me: "This is Janci, how can I help you?"

Caller: "I'm a victim of identity theft, and I would like to file for bankruptcy." (Note on this: this is not an altogether uncommon reason for filing bankruptcy. These days it is actually too common a problem, so this did not strike me as odd at all.)

Me: "Alright, so someone who stole your identity incurred enough debt that it is just easier to file for bankruptcy, right?"

Caller: "Yes, they stole it while I was out of the country, and I think it would just be easier to file and get on with restarting my life now that I'm back."

Me: "Oh, you've been out of the country? For how long?" (Note: at this point I am analyzing possible issues in my head with the new bankruptcy code, since exemptions of property available to the debtor are based upon where the debtor lived within a certain number of days prior to the filing of the case. I'll try not to get too technical on this stuff, just so you understand my motives in the line of questions.)

Caller: "For the last five years."

Me: "And where did you live during that time?"

Caller: "Well, I was abducted by aliens five years ago."

Me: (Stunned silence. I am waiting for the punchline....)

Caller: "Hello?"

Me: "I'm sorry, did you say you were abducted by aliens?"

Caller: "Yes, five years ago."

Me: "And someone stole your identity while you were gone?"

Caller: "Yes, a member of congress."

Me: (Additional stunned silence) "A member of congress?"

Caller: "Yes. Congress is in communication with the aliens, and knew I had been abducted. So while I was gone the certain member of Congress stole my identity and charged up all of this debt that I can't afford to pay. Would you like to know which member?"

Me: "No, I don't think that is necessary." (Still waiting for the punchline.)

Caller: "So what do I do to get started?"

Me: (another long pause) "Let's see..." (pause) "You know, I'm not sure bankruptcy is for you." (Note: all I can think at this point is that I don't have the time nor the sanity to deal with this nut as a client.)

Caller: "You don't? Why not?"

Me: "Well, I think there may be other options for you. If I were you I would call the D.A. and see what I needed to do to press charges against the aliens for kidnapping, and against the congress-person for the crime of identity theft. Then I think I would contact a civil attorney to find out what needed to be done to sue the congress-person for the damages caused by the identity theft." (Note: Yes, I am aware that I am evil, and that civil attorneys and D.A.s have just as little time to deal with crap like this as I do, but there was NO WAY I was setting this woman up with an appointment.)

Caller: (Like the thought had never even crossed her mind ) "Oh my gosh, that's a great idea! I think I'll do that. Thank you so much for your time."

I swear you cannot make this stuff up. And if they say lawyers are crazy, it's only because we have clients like these. One of my friends, a fellow crazy attorney, said I should have set up the appointment because he would have loved to sit in on it!


Emilee said...

I have represented my fair share of crazies. I have represented the Secretary of the Treasury who was wanted by the Mafia and the son of the owner of the prison (as well as many other prominent buildings in the Valley) who could prove his lineage if I called the government and got his birth certificate.

jen said...

I have to say I have heard this one a few times before, but I still laugh at it! he he he!!!! Thanks J!!!