November 27, 1998
Unless you're a caveman or Buddhist monk,
everyone these days seems to accumulate a lot of
I'm no exception.
Some things we keep because they're valuable.
Other things never get thrown out because they used
to be valuable, like old bank statements, and keys
to cars we don't own anymore.
A lot of things hang around the house "because
they'll be fine as soon as I get around to fixing
Me? I end up keeping a lot of useless junk
because they remind me of people and stories.
I spent last weekend clearing out my old law
office. I hadn't been there for more than three
months, and the lease was about to expire. I
couldn't put it off any longer.
As a divorce lawyer, you collect some
interesting things in ten years, and each one tells
There was a photocopy of the cheque from my very
first client. (I cashed the cheque - I'm not that
sentimental.) I defended a young woman who borrowed
a car without permission, ran a red and smashed
into a parked car. Oh yeah - she also didn't have
Not exactly the stuff Perry Mason built his
She was obviously guilty and we were both
prepared for the worst. Then the cop made up a
stupid lie to help get her convicted.
The judge was so upset at the cop she stopped
the trial and immediately found my client not
guilty. I was too stunned to know what to do.
Her clerk finally told me to go home - I'd won.
I learned a valuable lesson my first time in
court. Not everyone tells the truth. Sometimes not
even the good guys.
While packing I found an old brass key to a
grandfather clock in one desk drawer. A divorcing
couple were fighting over it. It was all they could
talk about. One of them had the clock and the
other had the key. Each was useless without the
After I finally convinced my client to give back
the key, his wife refused to take it. She didn't
want the fight to be over, because that was all she
He didn't want it back either, so I kept it in
my drawer to remind me that sometimes you're not
really fighting about the clock.
I had someone's wedding ring in my drawer for a
while. He threw it at me after court. I caught it
in mid-air like a magician doing a trick. About a
year later the owner called me and sheepishly asked
if I still had it. We were both happy to get it
back to its owner.
In my cash drawer I always kept an NSF cheque
someone wrote me. That's not unusual, except the
person who wrote it happened to be a priest. It
wasn't an honest mistake either.
The priest stiffed me.
What ever happened to: "In God we trust - all
others pay cash"?
As I cleaned out the last few things I also
found souvenirs from happier customers - cards,
notes. People who came through the process and were
better off at the other end.
And a little sign from a client that I kept on
It said "Miracles Performed Here."
If only it were true.