Sunday, April 24, 2016

Vanquishing the Trolls

I love reading blogs, and listening to their audio counterpart, podcasts.  I have somewhere around thirty blogs of which I keep track, in all areas of interest.  As you might expect, one of those areas is the law.  I have a love/hate relationship with one of them:  Above the Law.  I like ATL.  It has some great columnists whose writing I enjoy greatly.  I love a lot of the subject matter of the columns.  I find a lot of it helpful, both substantively and just to feel less alone in some of the trials and tribulations of the practice of law.  I know, you're wondering about the "hate" part.  What I hate are the comments.  Most of the comments have nothing to do with the subject matter of the column, and everything to do with the bigotry, pettiness and general nastiness of the commentator.  For a long period of time, it felt like ATL had no interest in controlling the trolls who commented on their website.  I stopped reading the comments, but I knew they were there. It was depressing, it colored how I felt about ATL, and I felt as a matter of principle that I shouldn't patronize the blogs on the website.  Yet, the blogs were so good....  I was torn.  Then, ATL announced they were eliminating the comments sections of their website.  Hallelujah!  Enjoyment without guilt.

Our clients here in the Trenches suffer a very similar dilemma.  They hire us and other professionals to help guide them through a very difficult time in their lives.  They hired us because they thought our advice was good and relevant to their situation.  In general, they still feel that way.  What we tell them helps them move forward through the Trenches.  In the background, however, operate their friends and family.  Some of them are supportive personally, and supportive of the work of the professionals helping them.  Others, in the guise of being supportive, are anything but.  They second guess the professionals in the case and attack them personally.  They offer their own advice about what the client should do, and offer that the professional disagrees for reasons unrelated to their professions, and in fact for reasons completely unprofessional.  The client knows they shouldn't listen to those less than well meaning folks, but sometimes it's hard not to do so.  The client thinks, probably correctly, that those opinions would not be welcomed by their helping professionals, so they don't tell them.  It just poisons the well, and they start to second guess them.  Those of us in the Trenches, unlike ATL, can't eliminate the commentary from the sidelines.  We do, however, want to help our clients know whether they're being helped or undermined.  If we aren't told the commentary, we can't help our clients distinguish between helpful and harmful.  Reality testing is a large part of what we do with clients, so we hope they tell us.   Then they can take our advice with firm conviction.  Here in the Trenches.

Monday, April 18, 2016

More Senseless Loss

Finally, a new iPad and a keyboard.  I never post at the office, and without an up to date iPad or computer, I was unable to post at home.  I practically hugged the UPS guy when he delivered the keyboard.  There have been so many posts in my head, all spinning around, and no place to put them. I had grand ideas for the first new iPad post,.....then I read Facebook this morning.

As you know, I am the "grandma" for Son's wrestling team.  I go to all the matches, home and away (but only the finals of tournaments - I served my time when Son wrestled).  I know the kids, some better than others, and more so as the years have gone on.  Last night, one of Son's wrestlers who graduated last year was murdered.  Yes, I said murdered.  The police don't know why and no cause or altercation was apparent.   It doesn't matter; he's still dead.  I can't believe it.  Neither can Son.

As I was walking Puppy Boy this morning, I was thinking about the young people I have known and for whom I have cared who have died in the last four years:  Office T, my friend's daughter, and now this young man.  In my humble opinion, none of those deaths make sense.  I am sure their parents would give anything to have another day, minute or hour with their child.  I am sure they have so many things they want to say, so many hugs and kisses they want to give, and I know they would pay any price to just see their child alive again.  I am sure they regret the angry words said, the time spent away from their child, and the moments where they were just too busy with life.  It breaks my heart.

It especially breaks my heart when I see so many parents here in the Trenches fighting over things concerning their children that really aren't that important.  It seems callous to say, because I know so many of these seemingly unimportant things feel so urgent and important, but I wonder if these parents knew that today was the last day they would spend with their child, would they choose to spend it disagreeing over these things?  Would they really like their child's last memory of them to be that their parents were bickering over something that in the scheme of things, really didn't matter?  Would they want to know that they wasted minutes and hours of time they could have spent with their child arguing with the other parent.  I think that should be the barometer - is something important enough to fight over that if today were the last day of your child's life, you wouldn't regret having done it?  Food for thought.  Here in the Trenches.