As regular readers know, I’m not on a physical vacation, but I needed some time to take a break from original material. Here’s another post from the past --you can read ahead if you like, but where’s the fun in that?
- Feb. 26th, 2007 at 9:29 AM
I had a closing last week where I represented a couple, newly married and seemingly quite compatible. Across from us sat a divorcing couple, separated by both their attorney and what seemed like a long road of acrimony and heartache. I didn’t envy my colleague trying to conduct a real estate transaction while his clients sniped and snarled, but I could certainly relate.
Twenty-some years ago, before I learned to never represent just one side of a divorced couple in a real estate transaction, I was retained by an apparently bright and calm woman named Janice. Everything proceeded smoothly throughout the transaction, until Janice and I sat down at the closing table, with Mr. Janice (sorry, I forget his first name) directly across from her.
The average closing takes about 90 minutes from start to finish, and that’s just about what this one took. For the entire 90 minutes, without pause for breath or a sip of water, Janice glared at Mr. Janice and repeated the following words sotto voce: “I hope you die.”
On and on and on: “I hope you die. I hope you die. I hope you die.” I was stressed to my core and the other persons at the table were equally unnerved.
“Janice, I know this must be stressful. We can find you another room to sit in”, I said. “I hope you die” she told Mr. J.
“Janice, this is not productive. Do you want to step outside for a while and calm down?”, I pleaded. “I hope you die. I hope you die. I hope you die” came from her lips while she shook her head to indicate ‘no’.
She heard all my explanations about the documents, nodded or shook her head in response to questions, and signed everything I put in front of her. But she never, ever, stopped saying “I hope you die”.
I couldn’t grab my fee check and gather up my file and brief case any faster, and was the first one out the closing room door. I waited for her, and when I caught her alone…