I’ve been enjoying all the news coverage on Steven Slater, the now infamous Jet Blue flight attendant who flipped out and stormed off the job in a very dramatic fashion.
I would love to do that.
It’s easy to understand how a person could get so frustrated with their job that they do something like that, particularly a flight attendant who has to deal with annoying passengers all day long. Like anyone else, I get frustrated with my job, too. My frustration isn’t limited to any particular group of people – it could be my co-workers, clients, opposing counsel, court reporter, whoever drafted the rules of civil procedure, or a Judge. Nevertheless, I’ve often fantasized about what it might be like to do something ridiculous a la Slater.
As a lawyer, you have to hold back a lot in the name of professionalism. You can’t tell a client you think they are full of shit. You can’t tell the Judge you think they are an idiot. You can’t tell opposing counsel to fuck off. Everything is much more professional. It gets hilarious at times, the wording that goes into a brief or motion. What the lawyer wants to say is “Judge, you seriously are buying this argument? Come on, it doesn’t even make sense!” but they have to instead say “Defendants’ argument is implausible.” You want to say “Judge, I’m really sorry my client is a fucking idiot who lied to me. He’s the inventor, so I took his word for it that he understood the technology, when clearly that was not the case. Please don’t sanction me.” But you have to say “Plaintiff’s understanding of Defendants’ technology was clarified during the discovery process, when Plaintiff gained access to Defendants’ confidential technical documentation.” And sometimes on a motion for reconsideration, all you want to write is four words “Judge, are you high?”
It is what it is.