Thursday, July 01, 2010

Interludes in an elevator

If you think that title sounds a bit racy, and you're hoping for some sizzling, purple prose... prepare to be disappointed. It seems to me that I did push the stop button once in an elevator, or maybe it was the young lady who was in the elevator with me -- but that was a long, long, long time ago. Maybe I even made that up from something I saw on TV, like the Bill Murray character in Scrooged. But even if it was only my imagination, I seem to recall that nothing much really happened anyway.

And nothing much really happened in the crowded elevator this morning in the Daley Center. It's just that I was looking at my fellow travelers, and almost all were looking at their smart phones. Now I can't tell, at a distance at least, an Apple from a Rutabaga, or a Heart of Palm, or an Android. You'd think an Apple would look different from an Android, from the names at least, but form follows function.

The elevator is dimly lit, dimmer certainly than the screens of the phones that light up the lawyers' faces on the way up to court, each intent on sending or receiving some last message before entering the courtroom. The devices must be turned off then, or at least put on truly silent mode, because judges get pretty steamed when a phone goes off. The man closest to me seemed to be checking a calendar. It was colorful; I could tell that much at my distance without my glasses.

Why have we allowed ourselves to be tethered to these devices? I don't have a smart phone; mine is still basically a phone. It can be rigged to check email and I tried that once, but found it annoying. There's too much email. I wouldn't mind a smarter phone, but I think I'd need better eyes and smaller fingers in order to get any serious use out of it.

My business in court this morning was quickly concluded and I found myself back in the elevator descending to the lobby. Some young male lawyers were chatting -- actual conversation instead of phone-gazing! -- but it was, after all, a special occasion. One of their number is about to become a father. He was lamenting that the baby is due this weekend which, in the collective opinion of the group, was a shame because it would intrude on his ability to drink. At least until after the baby comes. One of the party suggested that he should just drink anyway; that's what cabs are for. Should his wife go into labor, he can always tell her he'll be right along as soon as he finishes this round. The doors opened before the conversation ended but it appeared -- thankfully, I suspect, for the new father's future happiness -- that this suggestion had been rejected.

My co-counsel sent the appellate brief on which I was working to the court last night. The next brief will be teased out of three document boxes that are now in my office. Thirty volumes of appellate record -- and the case never went to trial. It was decided on a motion to dismiss. Soon I will know why so many trees died in the ascertainment of that order.


Jean-Luc Picard said...

Tree saving doesn't seem a strong point.

Dave said...

100% E-filing is coming, we'll both live to see it.