I sometimes go to mediations. These are events where the plaintiff and his lawyers get in a room, and defendant and his attorneys get in another room, and a paid mediator shuttles back and forth trying to get the parties to agree on a settlement number. The plaintiff starts off demanding $25 billion, and the defense begins with an offer of one cent. So it takes all day as each party grudgingly, theatrically, histrionically, and with much gnashing of teeth and rending of rectums eventually gets to an agreed-upon sum.
Much testosterone is slathered on the floor, fake blood is spilled, supratrochlear veins are bulged to the max, and at the end both sides do a victory dance that includes much grumbling and grunts about how what they really wanted to do was “take this one to trial.”
Mediations are considered a great way to save the costs of going to trial, and more importantly, the risk of losing at trial, and often they result in complicated, contentious matters getting settled, but what they mostly do is convince me that the average lawyer is on a fast track to an early grave.
The lawyers in the mediations look horrible. All of them. I spend zero time fraternizing with lawyers unless they ride, and these day-long mediations reinforce how ill the profession is, even more ill than the society at large if such a thing were possible, and it is.
For starters, they are almost without exception overweight. They are so overweight that when one of them is merely chubby he or she looks svelte compared to the others. The men wear huge living room drapes that try to create a slimming effect on their sagging guts, and the women strap themselves into bras, girdles, under-hawsers, and under-winches that try to force the fat into shapes and locations other than where and what they are. Naturally, the cyclist at the mediation, by comparison, looks like the stick of a popsicle that has been licked for an hour by a three-year-old.
Next is the food. The mediation rooms are stocked with junk food. I actually love mediations because I get to eat junk food. Junk food is great! For about two minutes, that is. After that it leaves you with the feeling that you just licked up someone else’s spittle. The lawyers plow into those junk food baskets with extraordinary gusto. But the killer is the lunch. It’s a giant grease buffet with about twelve tinfoil baskets of grease in which little food items float, or lay dead, salad leaves with their backbones stripped from the six-hour grease bath, meat that is ten parts grease to one part pig, tortilla chips that are so wet with grease you can style your hair afterwards by running your fingers a couple of passes across your scalp.
Of course I love grease. The more the better. But in real life I don’t eat much of it because after the first gallon or so it doesn’t taste that great. Lawyers? Grease is, after a fat insurance policy, a lawyer’s best friend. They jostle in the buffet line like bison trying to get a tongue wet at the watering hole.
And no one moves all day. You just sit in a soft chair, get up every three hours to take a leak or go groan at your constipation, suck down some more bad coffee, run your tongue around the edge of the buffet tinfoil while no one’s looking, then plop back down in the chair until the mediator dashes in with an excited look.
“They’re up to a nickel!” she will say excitedly, but it’s been a hard day for her too, and her makeup is starting to clump up, her coif is sagging despite the quart of Redi-Mix Hair Stander-Upper she sprayed on before her two-hour commute in horrible LA traffic, and her freshly pressed pant suit is now starting to look like it got pressed by a steamroller on a construction site.
The plaintiffs burst a few more blood vessels at this outrageous lowball offer, utter oaths with the vehemence of a man who was just told that the only woman in world uglier than his mother was his wife, and heart rates surge to infinity … and beyond. These ups and downs in blood pressure can’t be good for you, especially when combined with the sitting and the grease infusions and the constipation.
After eight or nine hours of this play-acting-in-earnest, where in fact real money is on the table and there are real consequences to either succeeding or failing at the mediation, everyone throws their shit into huge file cases filled with paperwork that no one bothered to read, and they are either elated at having gotten a deal or are grimly ready to go home and put on the face harness to hopefully prevent grinding down whatever’s left of molars 1-12.
Then they sit on the freeway for two more fun hours, and wrap up the day seated at home in front of a bottle, watch whatever ball-stick-foot game they recorded on the tee-vee, eat the frozen food from TJ’s, and stagger off to bed.
Makes the cycling life look pretty danged sweet.