As I grow older, late is increasingly early.
I used to be able to work all night, in college and for some years after. At first I was fueled by cigarettes and coffee; later, after kids started to arrive, only by coffee. Now, I can't drink so much coffee either. So, on Monday, after working all weekend, late -- really, really late -- was 1:00am.
But one thing hasn't changed. After I really push the envelope to finish something, staying up as late as my body will let me, I function fine the next day. Maybe it's because I'm running on fumes or adrenaline -- but I get through the day somehow.
But the next day -- the day after the day after the night before -- that's when I crash and burn.
I'm a smoldering ruin right about now. And I have May timesheets to complete. I'll be lucky to stay awake all morning.
But before I get to those, let me tell you about yesterday.
(No matter how tired I am, I can always stall.)
I knew yesterday was going to be a washout in terms of billing. Writing the brief is a billable task. Getting the people who hired you to write it to read and approve it is not. And yesterday morning I still had to prepare the Appendix to the Brief -- including copies of all the documents that needed to be included. In Illinois, that must include the Notice of Appeal and a copy of the orders appealed from. But there's usually a few other documents that one wants the court to find without having to call for the record. Selecting a dozen or so particularly important pages from a 3,000 page record is (I would argue) something of an art. When these are selected, they have to be numbered. I'd selected them long before finishing the brief. But I hadn't numbered them... or inserted the page references in the text of the brief.
In Illinois, the Appendix must also include an Index to the Record. I put that after the pages I want the court to see, so I never know how the Index will be numbered. The lawyers who hired me for this brief had a clerk who was perfectly willing to insert the page numbers if I'd explain how to do it -- but it was easier for me to just do it and be done. I was able to hand off the task of getting the brief copied, bound and filed to the other firm, however.
At least I think they filed yesterday.
I didn't hear anything after I dropped it off....
(Part of being over-tired is that one gets paranoid.)
I also had an Amended Complaint that had to be filed in one of my declaratory cases. I'd gotten leave to do that on Friday, but I asked the judge if I could defer the actual filing to yesterday and he said 'no problem.' Although the pleading was prepared, the voluminous exhibits had to be copied and then hole-punched so the final documents could be assembled. Not a billable task -- but just the sort of thing that one can do after a late night while waiting for another client's approval to file an appellate brief.
All of this would have gone much faster if the computer had been working -- don't worry: I won't launch into that rant again -- so I was running somewhat behind schedule at lunchtime when Long Suffering Spouse called.
Did I mention yesterday was Tuesday? Tuesday, lately, is when I drive to work and leave early. I drive to work to pick up the recycling that the cleaning people bring in for me -- if I let it go much longer than a week I can't walk to my desk without turning sideways. I leave early on Tuesdays to pick up my wife from school. We have two cars -- but I have two children still at home. For Long Suffering Spouse or I to use a car takes practically an Act of Congress. Lately traffic has been terrible in the middle of the afternoons on the outbound Kennedy and, no matter when I leave, my wife winds up walking home. We don't live far. But I still have to leave early... and sit in traffic... because Younger Daughter needs the family van to get to her job which starts at 4:00pm. And the other car? That's almost exclusively in the custody of Youngest Son, who drives from baseball to football to baseball, to travel baseball, back to football -- it's not football practice in the summer, but there are lots of "camps."
We don't see much of Youngest Son these days. His mother and I have taken to leaving him notes: We put these by his car keys figuring he'll at least have a chance of looking at them this way. Sometimes he tells us when he needs gas.
So there was enough going on yesterday -- consider all the foregoing to be prefatory, if you will -- when Long Suffering Spouse told me that Oldest Son had texted her.
"He wants to know if someone will be home at noon," she said. "That's when he and Abby are getting in."
Younger Daughter would be home, I replied, "but I don't want her driving them into the City if that's what he's getting at."
Oldest Son and his wife have taken an apartment in a very nice, very congested area of the City, very near downtown. Younger Daughter has no experience driving in heavy city traffic. Long Suffering Spouse considered the wisdom of my statement and was, presumably, on the point of overruling me when she announced, "Hold on, I got another text. I don't know how to look at it without hanging up, so I'll call you back."
A moment later the phone rang. It was Long Suffering Spouse. She seemed happier. "They missed their connecting flight," she said. "Now they won't get getting in until around 2:30."
It's not that Long Suffering Spouse wants to see her son suffer in an airport in some strange city; it's just that she wanted him to get a ride home from someone in the family.
"We'll see," I said, knowing full well that I still had all these things to finish that I'd mentioned earlier. At this point, I'd made copies of my Amended Complaint, but hadn't done the Notice of Filing or the Alias Summons or the cover letter or the mailing labels. I needed new return address labels too. And I was still awaiting client approval on the appellate brief.
But things fell into place fairly well. My computer was working by this time. There were printer jams, of course, because the equipment knew time was of the essence and it was the printer's turn to bollix things up. Still, not ten minutes after 2:00pm, I was in line at the Daley Center waiting to get my Alias Summons sealed. I texted my wife: Maybe I can get out of here by 2:30, I wrote. I copied Oldest Son on the text, too.
Oldest Son texted 15 minutes later. "We just landed," he wrote.
I called back. I'd been first in line when I sent my optimistic text. I still was. One of the people in line was a pro se... who had to be walked through every step in whatever he was doing. The other was a clerk for a high volume filer. The Circuit Court Clerk has a limit on how many cases you can open at a time without making an appointment. Whatever the limit is at presently, this young man was right at same.
So I waited. And I still had to place the summons for service with the Sheriff's office. And the Clerk won't accept no-fee filings over the counter any more. You have to get in a different line for a self-serve machine. In theory that saves time for the other people in the fee line. Yesterday, I wasn't interested in theory.
"I'm afraid you'll just have to take a cab," I told my son. "I probably still won't be out of here even by the time you get your luggage."
"If our luggage was even put on the plane," he said.
"There's that, yes," I said.
Well, we can skip over the exact questions that Oldest Son asked about the availability of the other vehicle. Youngest Son was at home at this moment, in between baseball practice and football camp, but he had to be back at school (as far as we knew) by 5:00. And Younger Daughter had to be at work at 4:00 and she's a good half hour away from her place of employment. I could do the math. I could see this was impossible -- not if we were to get everyone else where they were supposed to be when they were supposed to be there. But I'm also not stupid. This close to 2:30 I realized my wife would be almost through with school. This is the last week of school. Surely she wouldn't have to stay late today. So I mentioned this to Oldest Son and asked him to get his luggage and call back.
Long Suffering Spouse really wanted to drive the new couple home from the airport. I knew that at lunchtime. And so she did -- even though she had to stay later at school giving make-up tests to people who were absent last week. And my wife actually got to use the other car! Younger Daughter was 32 minutes late for work (I eventually picked her up, after fighting through traffic); Youngest Son was 15 minutes late for football practice (and 45 minutes late for the offense meeting that had preceded the official practice that he'd failed to tell us about). I was in the van for over two hours. The recycling still is.
And today is the day after the day after the night before and I have timesheets to finish....