Humorous Client Misconceptions

Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

20140407 Humorous Client MisconceptionsClients get confused sometimes and we are all aware of how that can lead to misunderstandings. However, many of their misconceptions are quite humorous and I have compiled several of these for today’s post. Hopefully this will offer you a little break from your daily grind while you read some of their “ideas” about their cases. If you are a new lawyer, perhaps this information can help you head off some misunderstandings in the future.

First, some misconceptions about domestic relations matters:

1. I don’t need to negotiate with my spouse. The Domestic Relations Court will resolve my case and my problems.

2. Joint custody or shared parenting automatically means we will split time with the children on a 50/50 basis.

3. Since the divorce wasn’t my idea, I shouldn’t have to endure changes to my lifestyle, like selling the house, getting a job or experiencing a lower standard of living.

4. Wives don’t have to pay spousal support to husbands.

5. The divorce won’t happen if I refuse to sign any papers. Read more «Humorous Client Misconceptions»

Texas Hoof-in-Mouth Disease

Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

I have long suffered from Texas Hoof-in-Mouth Disease. Susceptibility to the illness is a genetic trait passed down from generation to generation in my family. Some people may confuse our illness with the cattle disease, but I am speaking of a more virulent strain of the common foot-in-mouth disease.

Texas Hoof-in-Mouth Disease has caused me such pain and embarrassment in the United States that I simply will not describe all of its horrors. However, I don’t mind giving you an example of its tragic effect on another family member.

My mother’s manifestation of the disease sometimes resembles the symptoms of Turret’s Syndrome, causing words to come flying out of her mouth before she has a chance to consider them. For example, once when she looked at the protruding belly of a woman at church, the disease caused the words “I thought you had that baby already!” to leap out of her mouth. Just before walking off, the woman responded, “I did.” Read more «Texas Hoof-in-Mouth Disease»

Store Humor and Gratitude in Your Disaster Recovery Kit

Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

Hurricanes, tornados, mudslides, firestorms, floods, ice storms, blizzards, riots – there are many different kinds of disasters that can affect a law firm. Savvy lawyers create a disaster preparedness plan before trouble strikes, and then do their best to cope with the ultimate results. There are two things you might not think to include in your disaster survival kit, however – humor and gratitude.

Gratitude as a Survival Tool

I began writing this during the 12th day without electricity following Hurricane Ike, which knocked out electric service to 90% of Houston. Even though personally I was fortunate to sustain only a minimum of damage, trying to live and conduct business without electricity (and therefore air conditioning, refrigeration, lights, microwaves, stoves, computers, Internet, email and sometimes telephones) creates challenges that fray the nerves. When I found myself feeling irritable, I knew that I was starting to engage in a futile internal battle with “what is.” That’s when turning to gratitude saved the day for me.

Read more «Store Humor and Gratitude in Your Disaster Recovery Kit»

Joys of Lingering in France

Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

When daydreaming of France, people may think of the stars and glitter of the Cannes Film Festival, the haute couture of Parisian designers, famous architectural innovations and landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the perfectly executed haute cuisine of expensive French restaurants, the centuries of cultural history on display at the Louvre, the opulence of Versailles, or the blasà nudity on the beaches of the French Riviera. Many such attractions draw millions to visit France every year.

I like those things, but what makes France a joy for me are the smaller things that I encounter in daily living here. I like turning on to my street, cresting a hill, and suddenly confronting a stunning view of the valley dotted with pink, coral and white houses with tile roofs, followed by more mountains and the Mediterranean Sea in the distance.

I like the delight of savoring truly fresh bread that I pick up every day at one of the five bakeries within a mile of our house. If my teenage son is with me, I order extra. He devours most of a baguette, breaking it off in warm chunks, in the five minutes before we get home. Baguettes are the 18-inch long tube-shaped rolls that Americans call AFrench bread, despite the fact that there are so many different types of fresh bread in France. We have all wondered out loud how we will survive without fresh bread every day when we get back to Houston. How can we go back to the tasteless, uniform, pre-sliced stuff in a plastic bag?

I like the numerous sidewalk cafes and the way people linger about in coffee shops and cafes. I bask in the sunshine and sip something while watching the world drift by, whether in July or November. I have never felt rushed by a waiter, even if I finished eating half an hour ago, or haven=t ordered but one cup of coffee, long since gone. One is so welcome to linger that it is inevitably necessary to flag the waiter down to get a check.

I like warm goat cheese. I never knew that, and would not have guessed it. I love it melted on toasted bread and served on a green leafy salad, a dish called Chevre Chaud (Ahot goat).

I like the colorful fruit and vegetable stands, visible from the street. In the summertime, most of the produce is locally grown, vine-ripened, just picked, and very flavorful.

I like the numerous small family-run shops, where most of the shopkeepers take time to chat with customers. Even as a foreigner I don’t feel anonymous. I almost expect to bump into Ozzie and Harriet or Beaver Cleaver reincarnated and speaking French.

I like making the acquaintance of people from all over Europe, most of whom speak some English and tell interesting stories about why they are living here now. Many of them still have businesses in other countries, but choose to live in La Belle France.

I like watching the human scenery on the beach, on a crowded boulevard or in the market. The great majority of French women of all ages have trim figures, and many, regardless of age, wear skin-tight clothing and very short skirts to prove it. At the grocery store I am amazed to find 65-year-old women in spandex body suits and high heels. Aristocratically dressed women in designer suits, topped off with the ever present artistically tied scarf, also adorn the aisles. The teenager in tight white pants so see-through that I can tell she is wearing a brown thong underneath bounces by. I wonder at the four-inch heels worn by mature women and the four-inch platform jogging shoes worn by teenagers. I say thanks for the American women who rebel against uncomfortable shoes.

I like watching old men playing pÃctanque or boules, the French version of bocci ball. A man in his seventies, wearing a beret, holds up before him a stainless steel ball the size of an orange. He crouches a little, eyes the opponent’s ball resting too close to the target, and lets loose with a great arcing toss, which narrowly misses the overhead court lights. Miraculously, his ball plops down directly on top of the offending opponent’s ball, sending it shooting out of range. The old man cavorts just a little before relinquishing the shooting line to his opponent.

I like the round points that substitute for intersections here. It is not necessary to stop unless a car bears down from the left. Once in the round point, if I question which way to turn, I can just keep circling until I figure it out. Round points, however, do take some getting used to.

I like the way so many homes have window boxes of blooming flowers, especially in the perched villages. I like the boulevard esplanades and the circles in the center of the round points that are transformed into miniature parks filled with colorful flowers year round.

I like seeing teenage girls walking arm in arm. And teenagers (boys and girls) walking with their arms locked with their mothers. My American teenager hasn’t picked up that habit.

I like the fact that from my home I can drive only a few minutes to visit separate museums with enough original works to be dedicated to only one world famous artist, such as Picasso, Matisse, and Chagall.

Perhaps what I like best is the French attitude about life. Having made a decision to slow down my life, and to make conscious choices about how to go forward, I am in the perfect place for me at this time. The French aversion to schedules that don’t personally benefit them requires one to relax, let go, and slow down…or go mad. In the French culture it remains important to take time to savor the morsels of life (as long as you aren’t behind the wheel of an automobile). I have wondered why little shops (always on the cusp between survival and ruin) shut down for two or three hours at lunch time, losing the opportunity to take my money. On reflection, I realize that the owners act in accordance with their priorities, and money does not top the list. Life does.

1998 Debra Bruce

This article was originally published by the Orlando Sentinel in 1998.

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