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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 42,667

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THIS is how you negotiate with bare knuckles:

Indulge me, please. This is a true, personal story.

In 1989, I was stymied insofar as my life, my job. I had been working in my father's doctor's office for nearly 15 years as a file clerk where I also developed x-rays and took electrocardiograms. I knew I was smart and could do more.

So I decided to apply to law school. I attained acceptable scores for my LSATS. I was accepted into a nearby law school.

And I was poor enough to be eligible for a scholarship. But my father explicitly told me not to get the scholarship, that he'd pay for my three years' tuition. (I would continue to pay for my rent, my necessities, my vehicle, etc.) Back in the day, each year was $11,000.

So, three weeks before law school orientation, just when I was getting ready to leave the doctor's office, this happened: another employee was creating controversy because she spent a majority of her time at the office on the phone, arranging for her son's bar mitzvah. And words were spoken and the office split into two camps, pro and con. I wanted to stay out of it, but I did sympathize with those who complained that this woman was getting paid for services not rendered while others picked up her work.

My father inadvertently got involved as this woman had a nurse as her "protector". And this protector told my father that if his medical partner fired this worker, she'd quit and nobody would be available to process insurance and Medicare billing. My father panicked and wasn't thinking rationally.

Instead of settling this internally, he went after me. I was the reason his medical practice was about to fall apart. (I know, I know. He could have let both go and hired two new employees. But that's LOGIC.)

That could have been the end of it, but it wasn't.

My father demanded (not invited, not insisted) that I meet him for dinner one Friday after work. Just him. I tried to get out of it because I kind of knew there was going to be a showdown -- publicly. And I wanted no part of it.

But with the tuition not having been paid yet, I showed up at the restaurant. Dad was in one of the foulest moods I had ever seen. Everything seemed to piss him off. Example: He ordered broiled shrimp with lime sauce and then bitched about it being "Fairy Food".

Finally, he got around to the primary purpose of hauling my ass to dinner. Mind you, I was 32 years old, not a kid. He started out with a narrative about this debacle with the lazy/idle worker (with whom he had an inexplicable dedication). She was crushed that all the office was against her (except for her "protector" ) and was ready to quit. But the "protector" was ready to follow her out the door. And because both were certain to leave (bluffing), he'd be forced to unexpectedly retire early. And that meant almost immediately. (Bluffing again) And that meant he wouldn't have the revenue to pay for my law school . . . . .

Having the requisite skills of extrapolation, I figured out quickly that he was threatening me financially. I had relied on him to pay and had not applied for a scholarship. And plus, I had no employment. He knew that. And he threw this at me at a public restaurant where raw emotions could not be readily displayed.

He sat there, smug, with "How'd you like THEM apples?" hanging in the air.

Reminder: This was MY FATHER. My father!!

And this was all bullshit. And on the surface, it looked that all my work to get into law school was for naught. Gone.

Thinking quickly, assessing correctly, I responded. I took a deliberate sip of red wine, swallowed slowly, kept my eyes locked on him, and leaned back in my chair. And I simply stated, "Well, I guess that's entirely up to you . . . . "

My punch landed on his chin. He looked stunned. He was hoping for histrionics and a good scene where I'd break into tears and beg for the money. He didn't get it. All he could do was sputter, "Damned right . . . . "

Having shot his wad, there was no reason to stay much longer. I excused myself, left the restaurant, got in my car, drove home -- and promptly downed two consecutive shots of bourbon.

Epilogue: I told my mother what happened and she was shocked. I waited in silence. About three days before my orientation was about to start, my father called me and told me to pick up his check for tuition.

It was all a bluff.

My takeaway is that this was a horrible thing to do, but what happened was entirely up to me. I could have caved, but I didn't. And let's say he DID NOT give me the tuition money. I was ready to find another job and apply for a scholarship and re-apply to law school. My father would not determine my future.

And my father tried and succeeded with a similar MO when he died: He owned 50% of a house/property of which I owned the other 50%. Instead of leaving me his half, he "gave" me a "life estate" with the future ownership going to four (yes, four!) charities.

I'm about to sell this house. The four charities get half of the sales proceeds. Up to now, I have solely carried the expenses, which have been massive.

My point: You don't negotiate with people who essentially want to harm you. You hold your position. You can try to talk to them, but don't expect anything meaningful.

Sometimes you have to trust your integrity.

This "town hall" with Kaitlan Collins, and subsequent "critique" by Anderson Cooper reminds me of my first years as a practicing attorney.

I was good at "traffic law," like speeding, red lights, careless driving, etc. I got hired by a city firm that sent their attorneys all over the region to various municipal courts for traffic violations. Guaranteed work, good exposure with prosecutors and judges, more experience.

One case "smelled" and the information packet seemed rather useless if I was going to cut a deal (plea bargain) with the prosecutor, the cop, and the court. I asked for the client's violation history with the DMV, several times actually. I was refused and told I didn't need it. I knew better from personal experience and yet, I went to court.

I met my client for the first time and my radar went up. I asked him when was the last time he got a ticket(s) and what was it for. He swore no tickets/convictions except for a minor situation six months ago.

So, we go up before the judge. The prosecutor didn't want to discuss merging any of the three tickets and perhaps downgrading the third. I'm telling the judge that my client didn't have any violations save for that one he revealed to me. The prosecutor asked for a quick adjournment and called me over. He showed me a three-page traffic rap sheet for my client. It went back five years and was just awful. I would have known about this had my employer given me the requested history and my client had lied to me. I was now on the record having lied to the Court. Not my fault, but still, not good.

Needless to say, my client and I didn't do well in court that day.

I immediately drove back to "the office," where I literally yelled at my employer and told him that he put me in a dangerous situation of lying to the Court, That he made me look like a fool, that I couldn't show my face in that courtroom for at least a decade, and that I quit.

My point: Maybe Christopher Licht made the singular or combined jobs of Kaitlin Collins and/or Anderson Cooper a pure horror a few nights ago. In any case, both their credibility and professionalism as journalists are now in question. I can't believe each one performed that badly by their own initiative.

They both likely have binding contracts. If I were either, I would have run with my contract to my attorney to find an "out clause" that would have allowed him/her/them to quit CNN for the sake of integrity, protection of their reputations, if not for the sake of the tradition of journalism.

I quit, never looked back, and gone forward with representing clients who can't afford Justice.

It can be done.

I'm a teacher.

I've taught pre-K to high school as a regular teacher and as a substitute teacher. Including special needs children of all ages.

What parents of the children I teach should know (but ignore) or are willfully ignorant about:

1. I pay attention to your children where you don't. And that includes bad behavior. I correct them and/or give them praise.
2. I have to teach them self-control, decorum, societal rules, etiquette, how to be polite and respectful because you don't.
3. I encourage them to try, even if we both know they'll fail the first few times they try. I am their advocate.
4. I give them courtesy when they don't deserve it.
5. I am concerned about the adults they'll become.
6. I want them to succeed.
7. I am 25 different teachers to a single classroom.
8. I know my job isn't easy, but I believe my presence is moving society forward.
9. I want a child who doesn't speak English to be as successful at the end of their academic careers as those who are fluent. And vice versa: I want all children to speak, read, write, and understand Spanish easily.
10. I want children to catch me making mistakes and calling me on them.
11. I want children to accept their mistakes and use them as building blocks for learning.
12. I want children who have the ability to fulfill their dreams. My job is to help them.
13. I mediate disputes among them as classmates and teach them fairness and listening to each other.

and 14. You can't get just anyone to do my job. It takes years of experience, patience, and belief in John Dewey, Piaget, Froebel, and other educational philosophers.

Two girls were born on this date in 1948.

They grew up just three miles apart in suburban New Jersey: one in Bergen County and the other in Passaic County.

One became the most popular senior in her high school. Captain of the cheerleading squad. Star of the HS plays. Glee Club. Straight A's. Went on to Indiana University Bloomington. Jane Pauley knew her. So did Kevin Kline.

The other became a chorus conductor at age 14. Studied piano since 7. Graduated from Mannes. Has had a career in professional music for more than half a century. Well known, respected, and admired. Music Director of a church.

The first girl is Angela Atwood, nee DeAngelis. You know her as one of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), the group that kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst in 1974. She had divorced her husband, Gary, and moved out to California with Bill and Emily Harris. She became radicalized as she volunteered to teach prison inmates how to read. She was the one who spent an inordinate amount of time, trying to radicalize Hearst. She would die with her "comrades" in a police shootout and fire three months after they kidnapped Hearst.

The second girl is my friend.

Both started out with so much promise for success in their lives. Almost identical socioeconomic environments. Same l'air du temps. Same culture until early adulthood.

Atwood is buried about 5 miles from where I live, not far from where she grew up, at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, the same cemetery as Fr. Mychal Judge, of 9-11. On one side of an obelisk is her nickname, "Angel". The only local person who will talk about Angela Atwood is a quiet middle-aged librarian who went to school with her.

One girl became diverted from her dreams and died young. The other girl is celebrating her 75th birthday right now.
Posted by no_hypocrisy | Mon Feb 6, 2023, 08:16 PM (2 replies)

What I miss around this time of year

The "office party" the doctors had for the staff.

We had a small office with three doctors and about 10 staff. I was lucky to be one of them b/c my father was one of the doctors and I worked at the office on and off for about 18 years.

We got dressed up and usually went to The Tuxedo Club, just over the border of NJ/NY.

No longer employer/employees, but rather comrades. Open bar! Fancy hot hors d'oeuvres on trays brought by waiters. Gourmet dishes for the Meal.

Lots of kidding, laughter. Exchange of gifts. (You blindly selected a name from a bag and bought a present.)

Most of the folks who attended have died and I miss them. I've never experienced anything like our office parties since then.

Posted by no_hypocrisy | Sun Dec 4, 2022, 06:31 AM (7 replies)

How to handle RW NJ's in your family

My brother was getting married. He waited until the last minute to tell our parents that he had converted to Sufiism (mystical Islam).

Our father had a fit at the rehearsal dinner and tried to turn the family against our brother. Mom was resentful. Our sister went along with our father b/c she was afraid of him.

I didn't have a problem b/c it was none of my business except when it came to attacking my brother.

Here is the dialogue between me and my father:

Dad: Did you see what your brother is wearing?
Me: Yeah, it's a necklace with an amulet.
Dad: What language is that?
Me: Arabic.
Dad: Do you know what it says?
Me: Yeah. It says "Allah".
Dad: (ill-disguised slow burn). And did you see that photograph in the foyer?
Me: Yeah.
Dad: Do you know what it is?
Me: Yeah, it's Mecca at night during the Haj.
Dad: Don't you think it's terrible?
Me: No, I don't.
Dad: Why not?
Me: Because you only have to go to the Haj once in your life. If you had to go every year, it would be "terrible".

New Topic
Dad: Don't you understand why I'm so upset?
Me: No. (I didn't want to get into it with our father . . . . )
Dad: What would you think of me if I joined the American Nazi Party?
Me: (thoughtfully) Gee Dad, I don't think they take Jews . . . . .
Dad: Never mind. What would you think of me if I joined the Ku Klux Klan?
Me: Three things: One, I'll always be your daughter. Two (big sigh . . . . ) You'll always be my father. And Three (get ready for it) Don't come looking for me to help you burn a cross.

And with that, Dad moved to the other side of the table.

Epilogue: My brother is married 22 years now. Dad is dead and to show that he loved us all the same, he disinherited all of us.

These were the comic books my father made me throw out in 1969

because he believed Readers' Digest or whatever about how comic books led to juvenile delinquency:

Archie comics
Dennis the Menace

No violence. Throwbacks to the Fifties. Superheroes. White bread.

My father never looked at what I was reading but just saw comic books and knew my mind was being polluted.

And no, I have not forgiven him for making me throw them away. I paid for them. They belonged to me.

Postscript: Dad struck again in 1972. He made me throw out the sheet music for Don MacLean's "American Pie." But this time, I waited for him to go to bed and retrieved it from the garbage. I still have it.

I'm glad for Tiffany Trump.

Hear me out please.

She has finally escaped the familial bonds of her biological father, Donald J. Trump. Until her wedding, Tiffany has been dependent and under the control of her father for financial survival. All she had to do was to follow his rules, his whims, his demands -- like her siblings. From the moment she was conceived. She knew better than to challenge and to cross her father. He would have cut her off without blinking.

I don't know if she married for love or money or both. But she married someone her father can't threaten because of his wealth. She is safe.

Why do I care? Because I was raised in a similar situation. When my sister married, I knew she was safe. Me, I stayed single and did continuous battle with our father who had plans for me. I defied each demand and suffered as a result. I was freed when he died. Sure, I was disinherited, but I was still free.

So, Tiffany, make the most of your life. You've earned it.

Some workers don't "get it".

I've been musing about my late father.

His ultimate and last career was a medical doctor. Nothing wrong with that. (My best guess is that he decided to find a vocation where he could always be the boss and would avoid the risk of termination by another. Small business owner as well as physician.)

And he was fair to his employees at his medical office (office manager, x-ray tech, lab tech, nurses, patient assistants).

But he exuded an attitude of privilege that reflected his general disdain for employees. Specifically I mean that he had no sympathy for unions, for strikes, for collective bargaining, organizing. To him, it was akin to socialism, even communism (if he even understood the difference).

My father was a worker twice, perhaps three times, in his life before medical school. He was a chemist at a cement factory. He was an usher in a movie theater (where he say "Gone With The Wind" about 40 times). If you count the Army, that's three times. (As to the latter, he decided that being a grunt Private was not for him and hastened promotions to get out of that status.)

Having the experience of holding a job vicariously to the whim of one's employer, not making enough money to survive, making one's life dependent on one's employment, I can't understand how a person can turn his/her back on his/her experience and resent when one's former peers request then demand better working conditions, more security, more money for a decent lifestyle.

I can understand how Bush Jr., TFG, Trump Jr., Ivanka, Eric, etc. have their extraordinary sense of privilege. They were born into it and know no other way of life.

But my father, I just don't get it.

A good day in court yesterday

I represented a client pro bono (free). His wife kidnapped his three children and concealed them from him for almost nine months.

She sued for emergent temporary custody, claiming falsely domestic violence and alcohol abuse on his part. And got a protective order against him.

Yesterday we went to court. Armed with a police report from June. His wife was arrested for being heavily intoxicated in a public park while their children played. Endangerment of the welfare of a child.

Let's say, the wife was more agreeable to dropping the application for emergent temporary full custody, barring my client from his kids for at least two years. And dropping the protective order.

And my client got immediate access to his three minor children after court.

There's a realistic joint custody order in place.

While we can't give him back the almost nine months without his children, my client got justice yesterday.
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