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Do you feel, what with all the snow and all, you’re spending too much time in your Lay-Z-Boy burning up the remote, looking for something to watch that is only a tad less offensive or tedious than the other 399 cable offerings. I remember back before cable we only had three or four worthless choices, but in these enlightened times there are now hundreds of programs that aren't worth watching. That's progress.
While channel surfing recently I came across a new lawyer ad, where a young insurance assistant is driving the grizzled old insurance man around sizing up accident cases and the Mr. Potter character looks toward a house and says: What’s his situation. The young assistant says something like, “Well, his kids are hungry, they don’t have any shoes, his wife’s left him and he can’t work.
“Can’t work, huh? Good. Start low,” says Mr. Potter.
The young driver says, It’s too late because the poor sap has already called Maine’s most famous one-eight-hundred lawyer. The old guy then gives us a priceless look of shock and disappointment.
Why are there so many lawyer ads the air waves? And why are the message always the same?
Fact is, if you've been injured or harmed, looked at sideways or anyways and feel you've been seriously wronged or damaged or you’re just slightly peeved or annoyed at someone and you can punch a phone pad, you might strike it rich in a nearby courtroom by suing somebody for something – or anything.
Why not you? If you think long enough and hard enough I'm sure you can remember someone or some shady corporate entity that crossed your path and did you wrong, some slight that some slick, fast-talking television lawyer could embellish a bit and work up into a full-blown multi-million dollar legal payoff.
I once heard of a case where someone had used a regular electric drill on his buddy who was suffering from a toothache. OK, yes, there was alcohol involved, if you must know.
Anyway, the guy drills on his buddy's tooth and having no clue as to what he was doing he caused some serious damage to his buddy's mouth.
Enter a lawyer who was glad to take the case. Before he was finished he strutted up and down in front of the jury box saying, "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client here was only trying to help a friend in need of emergency dental work when he started drilling away with his handy electric drill. Now, you may ask if my client had any training in the field of dentistry and the answer is: 'No, he didn't.' But have you ever tried to get a hold of a dentist on a weekend?
"Some cynics may ask why my client used a carpenter's electric drill. Why wouldn't he? It said on the package that the drill had 1,001 uses. Why would my client think that emergency dentistry was not one of them?
Did the drill manufacturer bother to put a label on his product to warn innocent people like my client that it was NOT intended for use in dental procedures? No, sir, he did not."
When he was through and all the dust had settled the jury found the man innocent as a lamb and then found against the manufacturer just for good measure. The man and his buddy walked away with a $300,000 judgment, a third of which went to the lawyer, of course. They each got $100,000 but 40 percent of their share went to pay state and federal taxes.
So for a Saturday afternoon's drinking and drilling and a few days in court these two scholars netted $60,000 each.
That's why if you pick up an electric drill in your nearby hardware store now, you'll now see a prominent label attached that reads: WARNING: Not intended for use as a dental drill. It should probably also add: WARNING: Do not use if you and your buddy have been drinking since before breakfast.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly
throughout New England. John’s e-mail address is mainestoryteller@yahoo.com.
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