Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bear with me

So some quick mental calculation using my trusty calculator indicates that I have been a lawyer longer than I've been anything else... no, wait, that's incorrect, I think maybe I was a student for slightly longer, or maybe the same amount of time, depending on the result of 6+4+2+4. Anyway, whatever.

My point is, I haven't actually done much else since I graduated from school. I was a librarian for a month, a rather lazy but over-made-up and over-perfumed temp receptionist at Parfums Yves Saint Laurent for 1.5 months, a rather indifferent seller of bicycles and wedding packages for another month and then finally an administration clerk at a MNC for 2 months until I fell asleep at my desk and the boss walked by. Also, a math teacher at CJC for a month (will everyone please stop laughing, I can hear you). But nothing else particularly interesting.

Until last weekend, when I got the once in a lifetime opportunity to dress up in a bear costume (a proper bear costume!!) and walk around a mall. My initial position was bear-walker - the person that walks around with the bear to guide them around the mall and to make sure that when the little kids push the bear over with their rough play, that the bear is able to stand up again. Also, to smile and give out balloons.

Because I am such a sociable person and I do enjoy smiling at large groups of complete strangers, I went through the solicitors' ethics guidelines to see if there was anything there at all which could possibly make it illegal for me to be a bear-walker. And there it was - a solicitor is not permitted to do anything that would bring shame or embarrassment to the legal profession. Therefore, as I would be giving out balloons in public, a client may walk by and recognise me, thereby bringing shame to the legal profession, in some way or the other. I'm sure that there would be some shame. Certainly if I told my mother what I was going to do this weekend, she would feel ashamed to be my mother. So there's the shame for you.

Anyway, to get to the point, there was an extremely short bear traversing the length and breadth of a certain shopping mall last weekend and waving to all and sundry. At some point, the bear decided to spice up the action and started breakdancing interspersed with vague wu-shu hand movements to entertain the crowds of small children which were pulling the bear's tail and bopping the bear with their balloons. The bear's husband in the meantime handed out balloons and filled up the charm-gaps in the bear's routine.

I was quite surprised to discover that I had a really great time in the bear suit. I mean, I was quite the celebrity about town. Everywhere I walked, people would smile, wave, children would scream and (sometimes) not cry. People wanted to take photographs with me, and I didn't even have to smile!!! Some adults even wanted to shake hands with the bear, and to peer into the bear head to see who was inside. I was finally persuaded to take the bear suit off, and I've not been quite so popular since.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

They could be on the lam

Just about 2 months ago, another business similar to ours moved in next door. They literally appeared overnight, with very little baggage, and opened for business immediately. We were impressed with their speed and efficiency.

Within a month, their reception started filling up with people who just seemed to be sitting around and waiting for long periods of time. I couldn't help noticing because they have a floor-to-ceiling glass panel separating their office from the common corridor. Very patient clients, it seemed, that they had.

Until one of them came charging through our door the other day with criminal allegations against their firm. I guess you could read the situation in a few ways:

(1) if this carries on, that firm might, unwittingly, become a very good source of client referrals for us;

(2) I hope they pick their victims carefully, since at some point, someone will be sending a hit-man; and

(3) I hope, at that point, the directions given to the hit-man would be sufficiently clear so that he turns left, not right, after entering the common corridor.

Yesterday, they were closed for business and the entire office was empty and dark as the Landlord had taken it upon himself to administer some self-help remedies under the terms of their lease agreement. I looked at the padlocks and chains on the door (2 sets! 2 different sets!) and the pile of uncollected mail on the other side of the door and immediately felt better about my practice.

Today they are open again - I guess the rent got paid - and we are bracing ourselves for the onslaught of another bunch of their angry clients. In the meantime, we have taken a leaf from the book of the Amish, and have shunned them, which is probably the best that we can do under these circumstances. If they have stolen money from a client and cannot pay it back, then God only knows what will happen next.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Arcade Mania

This entry is for The Son, so that when he grows up, he will remember that he owes me big time.

I took half a day off today, and in the usual way, refused to plan how I was going to spend it until the morning itself. At about 10.30am, I realised half of the half-day leave was already over, and we had only managed to watch Tigger and Pooh and play Cow Jumps Over The Moon with The Son. In order to make up for the lacklustre entertainment for the first half of the morning, we (The Longsuffering Maid and I) bundled The Son into a taxi and took him to Parkway Parade for a little bit of arcade fun.

You know it's a kickass arcade when, as you enter, you see another child being physically carried out of the premises by his mother and maid, in tears, kicking and biting his mother's hand. "That will be us in an hour's time", I said, mainly to myself.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I bought a S$20 stored value card and blew it in 45 minutes on every conceivable game that The Son could think of. He wanted to try everything, even the games of chance (that ended badly). At one point, he was trying to wrestle the gun out of another little boy's hand inside the Jurassic Park game-jeep, and almost got into a fight. Sigh.

Me, I couldn't stop yawning. I yawn just thinking about it now. It just drains me.

And then when we finally ran out of stored value on the card, he tried to pull the card out of my pocket to swipe yet another machine. We bundled him out in tears. Screaming, kicking, whining and then screaming again tears. While riding the escalator down, he unleashed a torrent of toddler wrath that was surprisingly eloquent, actually, considering the circumstances.

"You (point) and you (point) have hurt my feelings! You are being mean to me! Please say sorry. Say sorry! There are so many games here! I want to go back! I don't want to go home!"

"Enough. I'm going to count to one. ONE! Now you better stop, otherwise I'm going to give you a spanking right here right in front of everyone."

Thursday, September 04, 2008

This one hit all the high notes

I've just finished reading "Waiter Rant" by A. Waiter, which is a really fun read, and I think it just highlights the fact that no matter what you do, what industry you're in, and what career you've chosen, the baseline statistics will always be the same.

Up to 99% of your clients will be great to work with.

Then there's the 1%.

I had a meeting scheduled right in the middle of lunch hour today, which is fine, because it doesn't happen very often. It was a first time meeting a prospective client who was also a cold call. Also, fine.

The guy turns up half an hour early for the meeting, which basically means I have to stop eating or trying to eat, and just hustle down to the meeting so he is not kept waiting.

He is wearing a singlet (a singlet) and khaki pants, and holding what I can only describe as an ancient Hello Kitty notebook, in which to take down any precious information he might be able to glean from our very first meeting. Judging by its size and appearance, he may have acquired this notebook about 10 years ago during a holiday in Lilliput.

He is a movie producer. He is in the process of producing a movie with a budget just shy of US$100 million. We asked him, is that not a little bit on the high side.

No, he replied. Because this movie is a blockbuster.

We discussed the work required at some length, and I can summarise it very quickly for you by simply saying that he wanted us to do "everything". And by everything, I mean every agreement with every individual actor, investor, director, co-producer, cameraman, key-gripper and assistant that would have any part to play at all in the movie, as well as the document offer. Which, when one is producing a blockbuster, can amount to a huge pile of paper.

We quoted him what I thought would be an eminently reasonable price for the work. He responded by asking if we would consider accepting movie tickets and credits in lieu of fees. And by "credits", I mean the words that flash on the screen long after the movie theatre (if it was even occupied in the first place) has been vacated by the patrons of that movie. He seemed a little bit put off when we suggested that we might need to consider the proposal at length before reverting, rather than punching the air and screaming the affirmative while taking the name of the Lord in vain.

Then he departed, leaving behind the smell of perspiration and a lasting memory of his chest hair, which is now burned into my brain.

I just don't get it. Has this man never eaten at a restaurant before? When you have finished your meal at a restaurant, do you turn to the manager and suggest that the restaurant accepts something else in lieu of cash, like movie tickets and credits? I don't think the manager would even pause to consider it - they would just whip out their mobile phone and call the fuzz. Similarly, has he never bought property before? Would he offer to pay the seller and the estate agent with movie tickets and credits?

If he couldn't even do this in a restaurant without getting arrested, what makes him think he can do this in a lawyer's office? Do we look like frigging movie ticket vendors? Is that how he expects us to earn our money off this file, by selling off the movie tickets to raise the cash?

I think we should accept, I said to my boss, just to see his reaction.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

This Half Life

I think the Government's initiatives to get more women to have children are well-meaning, but possibly no one can completely resolve the issue of time.

When women work a full day, then unless their children only sleep in the afternoon and the women themselves stop sleeping, you only have the following timeslots for the children.

Assuming 1 child only, and that the woman takes a taxi or car to work and only works 1 hour of overtime every day.

7.30am - 8.30am
7.30pm - 10.30pm

That's 4 hours a day.

If you have 2 children, that's 2 hours a day, and so it progressively gets less and less with each successive child.

I know all the arguments about quality time and everything. But they don't mean a thing.

I miss my son.

Monday, September 01, 2008

We Can Read!!!

I'm so happy. Some people have figured out how to read!! I forgot to record when he started to walk, but here's a great opportunity to redeem myself. Anyway. HE CAN READ!!!!

Words That Some People Can Read By Themselves

No (but of course)

In other news, we have anecdotal evidence that 90% of all children are fully aware that they are also referred to by their parents as "some people". As in, "some people need to take their bath" will result in running and crying, or "some people were naughty in school today, guess what they did" will immediately result in eavesdropping.

Happy happy happy.