The Runaround

Drawing a deep breath, pen poised perfectly on paper in order to execute some highly-anticipated and voracious note taking, I posed the question to the voice on the other end of the line: “… OK, but what type of law does this situation fall under?”

Voice on the other end of the line: “I don’t know.”

Me: “Well, would it be probate?”

Voice on the other end of the line: “I’m not sure. Maybe. That sounds about right.”

“Maybe. Sounds about right.” I say to myself, repeating her and considering another way to extract the necessary information from this person — my closest link to anything remotely resembling assistance in the matter.

Hmmmm… I don’t really want to venture into these unchartered judiciary waters with the paper-thin supply of confidence that comes pre-packaged in a phrase like “Maybe. Sounds about right” but what other choice do I have? 

Me: “Since you aren’t sure what type of legal matter this actually IS… Where do you suggest I start?”

Voice on the other end of the line: “Visit your county courthouse first thing Monday morning and ask them where to begin.”

Me (inside my own head): “I thought I was beginning with YOU. Someone I believed to be well-equipped in this arena. But whatever.”

Me (actually speaking): “OK. I’ll do that. Thank you.”

Bright and early on Monday we arrived in the courthouse lobby. The nice officer standing guard at the door will know where to direct us.” I said to Lee, my fellow voyager. And he most certainly did direct us to the sixth floor of an adjacent building.

After bounding down the stairs—pleased to have at least a scrap of direction on our legal quest—and crossing the busy intersection, we managed to weave our way through an obstacle course of revolving doors and metal detectors to the elevator that would surely deliver us to the sixth and proper floor.

Upon arrival on the sixth floor and a simple inquiry directly regarding the matter at hand, we were swiftly directed to the fourth floor. The fourth floor houses the County Law Library and—or so we were told—any and all of the necessary forms for the remainder of our journey.

Feeling a teensy bit wary of the whole Nobody-Knows-What-the-Hell-They’re-Doing thing, we got back into the elevator and rode it to the fourth floor. Surely the Law Library would hold the preciously-guarded secrets of the mysteries surrounding our increasingly-tricky trek.

After signing the Law Library Guest Book on the fourth floor, a friendly librarian asked how she could be of assistance. For what would be the third time in explaining exactly what it was we were in search of, the librarian declared that the place we most certainly needed to be was… on the fifth floor.

It was precisely at that moment that I burst into a fit of laughter as though suffering from some form of tourettes. And I’m certain that the poor, innocent librarian-turned-target-of-my-mental-breakdown suspected as much.

I explained my odd and inappropriate behavior to her by recounting ALL of the places we had traveled to on our adventure of odyssean proportions. But sixth floor, fourth floor, fifth floor, across the street, across town, across state lines, across the border… it no longer mattered.

Dizzy and reeling from countless elevator rides and red tape… I was fairly certain that if we ever located and retrieved the proper paperwork appropriate for our legal situation… neither one of us would know how to pick up a pen, much less spell our own names.

We did eventually procure the information we’d been searching for with such great gusto. And when we did—after flipping through a jillion jargon-packed pages—we swiftly stuffed it into a folder and have not spoken of it since.


20 thoughts on “The Runaround

  1. JT says:

    Joanna, I can so relate to this! I get caught in this often in voice mail/ answering service hell. I call the Dr. to make an appointment for a blood pressure check absolutely certain that by the time I am done making an appointment I will need BP medication to make it through the rest of the day!

    • Too funny about the BP check! Yes, you would need meds just to recover from those phone calls. I know excactly what you mean. I have been toiling in the “system” a lot lately with everything that is going on and it WILL drive a person crazy.

  2. Donald Miller says:

    It’s a journey we have all taken more than once, but the pleasure lay in reading the telling of the tale.

    I also liked your fit of laughter rather than (the other possible response). You’d love the scene in Akira Kurasawa’s movie “To Live.” The Japanese version of what happened to you.

  3. This is just laugh out loud funny. You KNEW this would be great material for your blog! Love your doscriptions of the whole nightmare. Esp. the end when you said you and Lee have not refered to it yet since the day of the actual adventure.

  4. You can look to the State Bar in the State you live in. The State Attorney General’s Office may be able to offer assistance too. It is frustrating when you feel like you are being sent in circles.

  5. kalisisrising says:

    I’m not sure this will make you feel any better, but never fear, your state is not alone. After FIVE very long years dealing within the Family Court System here, I feel so badly for the newbies, wandering around, hopelessly lost. My first few years, I would try to help them find their way, but anymore, it seems a right of passage – when I do offer to help, I’m mostly told off. To each their own, I guess.

  6. Donald Miller says:

    WARNING: Fan Mail

    This is the reason I’m a fan. It’s also the reason why I consider myself fortunate to have you as an online friend.

    I placed perhaps a too critical comment on JT’s latest article. Yet, to be fair to myself, I look forward to those (all-too-rare) occasions when someone will state why one of my essays isn’t as good as it could be and (perhaps) how I can make it better.

    There are good writers on WordPress, although you are the only one, besides Storytelling Nomad, I consider excellent. I’m happy that your work is on the magazine. And it’s for two reasons. One is that it makes the magazine far better than it would be without your work. The other reason is that it shows everyone HOW to write. So far your essays aren’t getting the attention they deserve, at all. But they’ve only been on for a few days, so I’m hoping that will change. I’ll try to make them more front and center in the next issue.

    So, I’ve said it and I believe it to be an honest assessment of your work. Your writing is a real breath of fresh air. You write about the events that occur in your life with style, charm, grace, and wit. Your writing is honest and it’s very well crafted. All-too-often — and I mean this with regard to my own writing and not just other people’s — people don’t write with this kind of integrity. One flaw I find in my own work is that at times I try too hard to impress people.

    There seems to be a fine line in essay writing where one hopes to gain the reader’s attention and to make them confident in one’s appraisal of something – or at least that one is confident in one’s own opinion – and overselling the piece, with the awkward side-effect of coming across as a Know It All. I haven’t quite found that balance, yet. But I will, some day.

    The breath of fresh air that you uniquely bring is that you don’t have an agenda other than writing well and sharing your experiences with other people. I often read quite a bit of material where the writer is telling me what to think and do. There also seems to be a combat between the atheists and the religious, with both parties displaying their most annoying traits. Coming across so much of that, as I do, and thereby reading it, is suffocating.

    Thanks for the oxygen. : )

    • Wow. Thank you Donald! I am not sure I am deserving of such praise but thank you all the same. Your comment is extremely humbling. I love what I do (in writing) and I wish there were a way that I could do it 100% of the time. But until then I will keep doing what I can and I’m so glad that you enjoy it as much as you do. It is also an honor to be a part of the online magazine. 🙂

      • Donald Miller says:

        I was hoping that I wouldn’t embarrass you with that. I’m glad you received it the way I meant it. I placed that reply of mine on a page of the site called, On Writing Well.

        I know my writing needs improving. I can clearly see my weak points. The nice thing about you and your writing is that people can learn from you simply by following — or trying to — your example.

        So, okay. I won’t be prattling on about it. Thanks for being a part of the magazine. And don’t hesitate to suggest anything you might think will improve it. I’m always on the lookout for good ideas. In fact, I reworked the front page a bit. I also decided that I wouldn’t make it on an exact schedule. I think that will encourage people to read and respond to the articles.

  7. Donald Miller says:

    I just reposted this, and I managed to find that Akira Kurasawa clip on YouTube I told you about — the Japanese version of the runaround.

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