I recently spent the day driving to and from a far-away deposition. Opposing counsel is truly a horrible person, a living caricature of an abusive, harassing, overbearing, prideful, ignorant lawyer.
Fortunately, I made the trip with my daughter, who as a person and an attorney is pretty much the polar opposite of this particular lawyer. It didn’t take us long on the return drive before we were in stitches over his mistakes, his ignorance of the law, his sallow face, his sagging jaw, his badly dyed hair, his uncontrollable foot twitch, and the misery that he experiences each day he wakes up and has to live in his skin.
But the most amazing part of the day was the chit chat. For hours on end we sat in the car and played tennis, me lobbing a topic, her batting it gently back until the volley eventually petered out and one of us would throw up another ball. It made me realize that the art of the long talk, although often found on bike rides, is a vanishing breed in face-to-face interactions.
Whether it’s because people gather around a TV screen, or because they are multi-tasking, constantly checking their Instabooktwit, or because they simply don’t know how to converse, the oldest human activity of chewing the fat doesn’t seem very common anymore. I recall a friend telling me about living in Algeria, when he would drop by a friend’s house and out would come the samovar, and then the snacks, and then eventually dinner, and then strong coffee, and before he knew it the day was done.
The entire time would be slowly burned through in conversation, with various other friends and family members dropping by, having a cup of tea or a bite, joining in the conversation, then leaving.
What was accomplished in all of those visits? “Nothing and everything,” he had concluded.
I got home yesterday very tired, satisfied at the day’s work, satisfied even more at having covered the waterfront. Just like a conversational, easy-paced ride on the bike.
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