Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Lifestyles of the Poor and Anonymous

Recently I came across some old handwritten journal entries of mine from a few years ago, written during the time when I was still practicing as debtor’s counsel. A couple of the stories I found are pretty interesting, (I think, anyway), and I thought they needed to be shared. So, in the next couple of posts, I will include them. (I really love when my blog posts write themselves!)

The first one will be much appreciated by anyone who meets with clients, or other members of the general public, in a one-on-one setting on a regular basis. For those of you who know about all the junk I keep in my desk drawers, this will at least explain the Lysol sanitizer, Clorox sanitizing wipes, room deodorizer, air freshener and anti-bacterial gel and wipes. So, from May, 2006, here you are:

I thought I’d seen and heard it all, until I spent an hour sitting in my office with a client who, during the entire appointment, proceeded to perform a series of self-grooming activities, all the while carrying on the conversation with his wife and myself as if he was sitting with his hands folded primly in his lap. He began with the cleaning of his ears with a car key, after which he repeatedly wiped the key across his pant leg to clean it off. All I could do was think of Jeff Foxworthy’s definition of a redneck, and be thankful he hadn’t chosen to pick up any of the documents on my desk and use them as a tissue to wipe off the key.

Once he put the car keys away, he began to pick his nose. Literally pick his nose. Not just the “I feel something sticking out” courtesy wipe, or even the “I have an itch inside and am trying to do everything to scratch it besides jamming a finger up there” rub. No, this man was buried to his knuckles. And afterwards, he chose to flick the contents to who-knows-where across my office. Several times I had to fight the nearly uncontrollable urge to duck, and even to crawl under my desk to avoid being hit.

Since he had now completely cleaned out his ears and nose, I figured he was finished. How wrong I was. He began biting the cuticles and dry skin around his fingernails, and spitting out whatever he bit off onto my office floor with that all too familiar “phlbt” sound that means he’s gaining distance with each spit. He wasn’t even quiet about it. I literally heard “phlbt” in between sentences about how a Chapter 13 would affect their children. (Of course, the idea that this man had children at all created images too awful for even my worst heebie-geebie nightmares. But that’s a whole other issue.)

Finally the appointment was winding down and I figured my glimpse into this man’s personal hygiene habits, and apparent lifestyle, was over. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to wrap it up before the car keys made their reappearance and assisted the man in cleaning the dirt (and probably other things I choose not to imagine) from beneath his fingernails. Understandably, I spent the majority of the appointment speaking directly to his wife in an attempt to keep from losing my lunch all over my formerly clean desk. Thankfully, we did get the appointment completed prior to his taking off his shoes and picking out any toe jams, or using the multi-purpose car keys to clean out from under his toenails, or doing who knows what else to clean the various crevices of his body he had not already attended to.

As you would assume, after the couple left the office, my secretary helped me clean and sterilize, as much as possible, every inch of my office that could be reached without employing the use of a ladder and a power washer.

Hmm. And nobody finds the fact that I got out of that practice while I had the chance the least bit surprising. I wonder why.

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