It was time to return to brave the cold and return to work. For some inexplicable reason, my email box was filled with offers from 'electronic scooter' companies, all of which I disregarded. As long as my heels were not too high, I would manage to walk. Kelly had returned after a three day absence, and it appeared that all was well and we had a 'full house'. However, by midday, it was obvious that Kelly needed to go back home, and by closing time, I perceived that we would not see her for the rest of the week.
Getting back in the saddle was reasonably easy, as my workload in my absence was less than I had anticipated. However, that was not to last, and on Tuesday I received some papers that had to be signed by the judge, at 'Uncontested Docket Call'. I am sure I have mentioned before, about the legal procedure in Texas, in as much that if we cannot deliver a paper personally to the defendant, the attorney presents a motion to the judge, and he signs an order to say that we can deliver it by an alternative method. In this particular case, we needed to send it by first class mail. The paperwork was delivered, from the lawyer, to our office via a courier, so I knew it was considered urgent, but it was too late to take it for signature. Kelly was still unfit for work on Wednesday, but the weather had turned very cold, and Dana did not want me to leave the office during the day.
By Thursday, the cold snap hovered around for a couple of hours in the early morning, but by lunch time, it was very pleasant. Kelly, as predicted, was going to take the rest of the week off, to recover, and I knew that delaying the inevitable for another day would probably result in anxiety dreams. As also mentioned, when I have been 'under the weather', my confidence levels drop and I become the shy, introvert child that I once was. Yes, I was once a shy introvert child! Samantha offered to drive me to the Courthouse, and we left at about a quarter past one. Uncontested docket call is between 1:30 and 2pm. Dressed appropriately, with one of my newly knitted creations around my neck, I entered the building and placed my items on the conveyor belt. Of course, I buzzed, but a quick run down with the wand proved I was not a threat, and I continued along to check the notice board. I could not see where the proceedings were taking place, and went to the information desk, where a nice young lady informed me that it was on the fifth floor. The lift doors closed as I approached, and I decided that it would probably be a good idea to get some exercise, and climb the five flights of stairs. By the time I had reached the third floor, I was finding it slightly hard to breathe, but battled on up, somewhat slower. I almost fell into the courtroom, and had to sit for a couple of minutes to regain control of my lungs. The man whom I had collapsed next to, was not impressed. He viewed me from the corner of his eye, and out of the corner of mine, I could see him nudge the lady next to him, who was totally transfixed on the judge, who was questioning a gentleman as to why, if he wanted to divorce the lady standing next to him, did he object to her changing her name to the one she possessed before the marriage. A rather loud 'shhh', came from my neighbour's associate, which appeared to un-nerve him more than my inability to breathe.
Once I had composed myself, I approached a gentleman, whom I assumed was an attorney, and asked if it was appropriate for me to cross the floor to hand my papers to the clerk. He said it was, and I waited for the judge to explain why he thought Mr. Divorce-case could not have everything his own way, and during the ensuing sulk by the said gentleman, I tiptoed around the edge of the room, and handed my papers to the man sitting next to the judge. Eventually, the gavel hit the desk, and the couple legally went their separate ways, with their separate names. It was time for the next case. The irreconcilable differences of the next couple were brought forward by the wife; the husband had signed a waiver, and was happy for his ex-missus to call herself whatever she pleased. This brought yet another nudge from the lady sitting next to the terrified man, next to whom I had originally collapsed. After twenty minutes, I was engrossed in the battle of the interfering paternal mother-in-law, and had almost forgotten the purpose of my visit, when the clerk walked towards the audience, and called out the name that was on my paperwork. It would appear that I was in the wrong courtroom! This was the family court. I would have to go down to the second floor. Darn!!! Reluctantly, but with relief showing on the face of the man next to whom I had originally collapsed, I left the courtroom, and ran down the stairs as I realised my window of opportunity was now very small.
My entrance into the less crowded courtroom was just as dramatic, as the large wooden door, that I had left to slowly close by itself, crashed into place. I signalled to the clerk, who obviously had my attention, and she waived for me to approach the desk. The judge's view, fortunately, was blocked by two attorneys and a young girl, who had apparently been the victim of a vehicular accident. She was claiming compensation for the emotional trauma that she may encounter in later years, although (sceptical as I may seem) the only possible traumatic experience she was experiencing was the response to her text messages, which she was sharing with a friend. The medical staff were satisfied that she sustained no long lasting injuries, and although they could not completely rule out any complications, (which they are obliged to do to save them from appearing in front of a judge at a later date,) they were satisfied that she was good to go! I concurred! The large amount that she was going to receive in compensation would have made me feel much better for a long time! The cases were not quite as interesting as the gruesome in-law, but they had their moments. I sat patiently as a young man was called to the podium. Far be it for me to make judgement, (well, maybe just a little one) but if I had to make a court appearance, in front of a robed gentleman, whom one calls, 'Your Honour', to request that my driving license be reinstated, having been suspended, and re-suspended for traffic violations that exceed the national average, I would probably not wear a ripped t-shirt and trousers held together by chains, and pins. At the very least, I would have brushed my hair! Fortunately, I was not the one pleaded for my license, and even more fortunate, for the young man, I was not the judge. His Honour was very, very fair; and I would imagine that is why he was sitting in the high chair rather than me, as I would have thrown the book at the youngster, and told him to come back once he had found somewhere to take a bath. As it would appear that someone was willing to take a chance on the youth, if he had the ability to drive, the judge was lenient, reinstating his license, and did not mention his lack of hygienic prowess. Presumably, his current employees do not have the sense of smell that I inherited from my mother. (She can smell body odour at 200 yards!)
The courtroom emptied, and I remained, with an observer. Looking around the room, the judge motioned for me to approach the bench. I removed my hat, at I thought it appropriate, left my bag on the floor, as I thought it would be safe, and ventured forward. 'Are you the youngest attorney?', he asked as he looked over the paperwork. 'Um, no, well, um', I stammered, half wishing I had not brushed my hair, nor showered, as it may have put me in better stead. 'They always send the newbies'. I replied that I worked for the process server in the case. 'So, you are not an attorney'. This is where my coherence returned, but my brilliance did not. What I meant to say was, 'Perhaps in a different life', but the word life was replaced with line, and the sentence did not make sense. I repeated, 'life....perhaps in a different life', I said. My face must have said what I was thinking; why did I say that? He stopped writing, looked at me, and shook his head. 'They always send the newbies', he repeated, and handed back the signed paperwork. 'Thank you sir...judge...your honour. Thank you....'. I repeated until he waved me away. Once again, I did not know whether to be flattered that he thought I was the youngest person in the firm, or insulted that he thought I was the old woman whom they wanted to get out of the office! I chose to stick to the former, as I left the room, once again forgetting the door slammed when left unattended, and went to get the rest of my paperwork filed with the appropriate clerks. I skipped down the stairs, walked as fast as my legs, and lungs, would allow, and fell into the car, wheezing, 'You wont believe what happened to me!'
Samantha made me relay the whole experience to Dana when I returned to the office, and I was glad that I could still make someone laugh! It will probably be a long time before I have to repeat the afternoon's events, as I hope Kelly will be well enough to return to work after our long weekend. Despite my interest in the Texas legal system, I think I will continue to delay my wishing to practise law, and proceed with my ability to practice knitting. I would far rather present a long cardigan, than a long lawsuit, no matter how colourful! Perhaps I can crochet my way into.....