Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Midweek Musings

Good evening,

The news last night of the passing of my father's last surviving sibling caused me to feel a bit guilty. I had not seen my aunt Irene for six or seven years, and I don't recall speaking to her in that time. I toyed with the idea of going to the funeral, but the arrangements coincide with some client responsibilities that I do not think can wait.

I sat over coffee after court this morning, in a funny little restaurant that I did not previously know existed. My stopping there occurred entirely by chance. I had spent 45 minutes looking for the Liberty Department of Revenue License office, only to learn that my Property Tax Receipt had an error that prevented me from renewing my plates. Disgruntled, hungry, caffeine-deprived, I tried to make my way to the Starbucks on Route 152 but went the wrong way. Instead, I found myself west of the highway, gazing at my choices: one to the right, one to the left. I have no idea why I picked the latter, but there I was, with a bad cup of coffee, a soggy biscuit, and a runny egg.

I called my office and let my receptionist know that she could refrain from canceling my Thursday appointments, and scrolled through my e-mail messages. I pushed the egg around my plate and stared into the cooling coffee. After a few minutes of pretending to eat, I heard a voice on my right ask if everything was okay, and looked up, expecting to see my waitress.

Instead, a man hovered over me. I felt my brow tighten, wondering what he wanted, as I assured him that I was fine, all was well, I did not need anything. He smiled. "You probably don't remember me," he said. "You helped me out in a little matter over in Clay County about ten years ago, and I've never forgotten you."

I glanced at his name tag, but it bore only his first name which afforded me no clue to trigger the lost memory. I studied his face, but could not remember him or his case. He told me his surname, and that he has never missed a weekend with his child. "You were really great back then," he told me. "I appreciated everything you did for me. I've been on the straight ever since. A lot has happened. I've grown. I take care of my kid, and it's wonderful." I smiled, and nodded, and strained to recall what I might have done to cause him to look at me with such dazzling gratitude, this tall young man who seemed strong, confident and calm. I thanked him for remembering me, told him that I was really glad things had gone well for him, and returned his smile.

I finished my breakfast, and left, standing just a bit taller, no longer worried about the lines at the tax office.

Later, I looked on Case.Net, and sure enough, I had done a paternity action for him in 2000. Since the docket items are not visible due to privacy laws covering paternity cases, I couldn't tell how contentious the matter had been. His file probably had been crammed in one of many document boxes lost in a storage room flood. I can't event browse its contents to refresh my recollection of his case. I don't suppose I will ever know.

But if you get breakfast in Liberty one day, and a kind young man with a radiant smile asks if he can help you, leave him a big tip. He's got a kid to support.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.