Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Filling in the blankety blank blanks

If there's one task at which most lawyers seem not to excel, it's filling in forms.

Oh, we make forms for others to fill, and tax lawyers must somehow learn this skill, but when we try to fill a form out ourselves, it seems always to be a problem. It's always a problem for me.

For one thing, there's never a box marked, "It depends." How is a lawyer supposed to answer any question without the option of saying, "It depends"?

Case in point: Today I went to add our new car to our insurance policy. I mentioned somewhere here in passing that Middle Son had totaled one of our cars in July; we replaced it last month, I think, or was it in August? Well, that's part of the problem: You have 30 days to add a new car to your insurance policy in Illinois; unless you do, the grace period expires and it's no longer insured.

So being a Curmudgeon of middling technical skills but burgeoning technical ambitions, I decided to enter the information on line. I found the insurance agent's website after only a couple of searches and remembered both my log-in and password.

Hold your applause, please; it's all downhill from here: There was a form to complete.

Some questions I could answer -- but most of these had already been filled in by the computer upon my successful completion of the log-in. I did have the VIN handy. (Don't say "VIN Number." Everyone does, but it's redundant. "VIN Number" would be "Vehicle Identification Number Number" and that sounds silly.)

But then the form asks questions about my deductible. Well, I'm at the office; the policy is at home. Do you think I remember these things? And then whether I want/already have towing coverage? With passwords and log-ins rattling around in my brain, it's a wonder I remember where the car is parked, much less picayune details about the existing policy.

And then came the clinchers: Does the vehicle have anti-lock brakes? Pardon me, but do I look like a mechanic? This is the car in which Younger Daughter is taking her driving practice (and taking me along for the ride). Believe me, I know the car has brakes. But who knows what kind? Who cares? (At least as long as the car stops....)

And then, "does the vehicle have an anti-theft device?" Well, the doors lock. And the ignition operates with a key. These aren't merely challenges for the bored vehicle owner; they clearly serve to deter would be joy-riders. And there's a blinking red light that turns on when the car is turned off that scared me half to death when I first noticed it that has something to do with what sort of key is needed to start the car. (I looked it up at the time -- but when I was satisfied that it was not a portent of imminent mechanical doom, I immediately began to lose grasp of the details.) So maybe that's an anti-theft device and maybe it's not. That's when I started looking for the "it depends" option.

I looked in vain.

And that's when I started looking for the fax number. I can still write a letter. Someone else can fill in the blankety blank blanks.


Jean-Luc Picard said...

What awful questions; are we all car mechanics?

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

hey get a secretary to do all that stuff for you! yeah, that's it, a secretary. they like doing that personal stuff for attorneys. she'll also probably want to pick up your dry cleaning and buy your wife's birthday card for you. trust me, it'll be great. (i did it for years and years, yeah it was loads of fun. sometimes he had so many shirts at the laundry i had to make two trips. it was in palm beach and parking is a big problem so i had to walk to the cleaners. oh yeah, and i had to do it while i was out for lunch - since i was out anyway. but i digress.)

oh, and on secretary's day, please don't forget to tell her to order herself some flowers. thanks.


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

oh i forgot, you would never do that, thanks for being a nice guy! bee

Dr. A said...

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cmhl said...

first rule of order--- don't ask "but what if...." questions, and every yes or no question is answered with "it depends.."

perhaps you should have delegated to the long-suffering one? I know I am much better that this type of thing than my spouse..