By request, a tale from a previous life

This is a more fully edited version of a tale I told elsewhere about one day in the life of my previous job.  To set the scene, in order to have a successful plaintiff’s personal injury firm, you have to wade through a whole lot of possible calls.  You have to be willing to go and visit clients, no matter where they might be, just on the off  chance that there’s gonna be some gold in the story.  Who knows-  the home visit you take might be the multi-million dollar case that lets you retire.  More than likely, it isn’t, but there is that one chance that keeps you going.  That means you visit people after hours, you visit them far away, and yes, you visit them on Saturdays.

This particular Saturday started at the crack of dawn, on the road to rural northern Michigan for a new client meeting. I was up past where the cell phones work.  This is way up there, near Alpena, out in the woods.  Out past civilization, past where there’s any stores.  You’re in the middle of old CCC land-  scrub pine, and sand dune. Got to the client’s house, which was off the grid. Wood stove, multiple out-buildings of various and sundry purpose, in various states of disrepair- this was Carcosa North.  There’s a deer feeding stand in the middle of the yard, and I would bet anything that they just pick off deer from their front porch.

Before getting out of my car, I check my cell phone.  Nada.  No service.  It’s a brick.  Well, it’s been a good run.

I go to the client’s door, and enter the house. There’s a nice couch, a nice TV, and a giant fucking gun safe, in the living room.  Seriously, you could put a couple of bodies in there.  Also.  Many dead deer heads looking down at me. I particularly like the two deer heads which bracketed a copy of the Serenity Prayer. “God give me the serenity to kill many, many deer, and mount their lifeless heads on the wall to stare down at people creepily, amen.”

Client interaction relatively normal, but then she says “you know, the Holy Spirit talked to me in the middle of the night, and told me to call [redacted] firm.”   The fact that I didn’t burst out into laughter at that time speaks well of my poker face. Also, the sheer terror when someone says that the Holy Spirit spoke to them, and you realize you are DEEP IN THE FUCKING WOODS, without cell phone coverage.  Without a way to call for help.  There’s nothing quite like the realization that these people are going to gut you, and turn you into sausage, and no one will ever find your body.  This is a bracing realization before noon on your average Saturday.

They were guilty of white people festive spelling.  To wit: son, Nolan. Spelled? Knolan. Just, no.

But, that wasn’t the horrifying client visit. That came next.

I leave the (moderately) far north, and head to Saginaw. (I say moderately, because in reality, I’m only about 1/2 of the way to the top of the state.  There’s a lot more weird up there to go)

Find the house, knock on the door, go in. The house is chock full of junk, and I’m directed to go around the corner, where my client is apparently resting. I can’t see her.

I turn the corner, and see her.
She’s one of the larger human beings I’ve ever seen. Now I’m not one to cast aspersions about how much someone weighs, but her size was just, well, shocking. She’s sitting in a La-Z-Boy recliner, wearing sweatpants, with her legs spread wide apart, her left leg on the arm of the chair.  She’s completely engulfed this recliner.  She’s sitting 4 feet, tops, from a bigscreen TV, the shades to the whole house are drawn (remember this point), and she directs me to sit on the other recliner, across a small stool, serving as an end table for her pills, coffee, etc.  I take a seat on the recliner. (only at the edge).

In the other room, what turns out to be her boyfriend is silently cataloging all of the top songs of the past 50 years which are available on Youtube. He’s not listening to them, he’s just looking them up on Youtube, and putting them in his notebook, for later.  I can’t imagine what later will be like.

The client tells me she’s allergic to sunlight. Well, then. Then, to make it worse, the boyfriend lights up a menthol cigar, and the whole house smells even worse than it did before.

I start talking to her about the case, and then there’s a knock at the door. Who is it? It’s her home health nurse, there to change the dressing on her wound. So, picture this: lady, stool, me. The nurse sits on the stool, rolls up the client’s pantleg, and proceeds to remove the wound vac, and the dressing over the suppurating leg wound. There is NO WHERE for me to look while this process is ongoing. NOWHERE. NO-WHERE. The wound is way closer to me than I would want any wound to be.

What’s a wound vac, you ask?  It’s a machine that has been designed to pump fluids out of an open wound, to facilitate healing.  Ponder that on the tree of woe.

All I can say to myself in my head is “please don’t smell, please, please, please don’t smell.”

The nurse seems to be drawing the process out- I can’t leave, I can’t finish my conversation, I can only make small talk while a parade of horribles is going on, right under my very nose. I’m trying to stay professional, and focused, but in my head I’m running around, screaming.

Somehow I don’t throw up, and I complete the visit.  The nurse leaves, I finish interviewing the client.  The boyfriend continues work cataloging the 50 greatest songs on YouTube, for later.  I go back to my car, take off my coat, and sweater, and open all the windows, and stop for a soda to wash the taste out of my mouth, while preparing for the hour and a half drive back to the office.

And that was an average Saturday.



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