Years ago when we were so shy we could barely even talk to ourselves let alone to strangers we got a summer job calling up people to ask if they’d like to sign up for 6 weeks of ballroom dancing lessons.
Back then, the telephone was only for urgent matters. People had only one phone in the house, which they conveniently kept in the hallway by the front door to ensure that whenever it rang they had to get up from whatever they were doing to go answer it. They always answered breathlessly – was it good news or bad?
As soon as they figured out it was a sales call, the imprecations flew thick and fast. We’d never even heard some of those words before. After half an hour we were in tears. We got no sympathy from Mrs. Revolting the supervisor. Twirling her glasses on a chain, she’d holler, “Boom! ya hang up the phone. Bam! ya dial the next number!”
We didn’t last long in that job, but what great training for a future in appellate squawking where Boom! you lose an appeal and Bam! you slog on with the next one. You moan, “What’s the USE?” But then, what’s the alternative? Give up? Never! Here’s our latest debacle:
Trial testimony of Dr. Bag: “When the patient walked into the emergency room, he had a laceration to his leg about 3-4 inches long. He told me he and the defendant were arguing about whether A-Rod had ever played left field for the Penguins, when the defendant slashed him with a bottle opener. I cleaned out the wound, stitched him up and got his blood pressure back to normal. He went home the next day, walking, with Tylenol.”
DA on Summation: You heard what Dr. Bag said, Ladies and Gentlemen. How the victim was brought into the hospital more dead than alive, how he nearly bled to death after the defendant tried to hack off his leg with a machete. She told you the victim was at substantial risk of death. She told you.
DA’s brief on appeal: The victim hovered between life and death as he was rushed to the hospital, screaming in pain. His heart could have stopped at any moment. His leg nearly fell off. For hours it was touch and go, but the surgical team bravely labored through the night. At dawn the chief surgeon, mopping his brow, announced, “By George, it’s a miracle. He’s going to make it.”
Your reply brief: What unbelievable rubbish. That wasn’t the testimony at all.
Your oral argument: Ditto.
The Appellate Division’s decision 6 months later:
“Defendant insists that the finding of substantial risk of death was unsupported by the evidence because the doctor didn’t use that exact phrase. We disagree. The victim, screaming, “Don’t let me die! It’s my little girl’s birthday!” was rushed to the hospital, hovering between life and death, pursued by the machete-brandishing defendant. At one point the victim’s heart stopped and had to be replaced. At another point his leg fell off. A team of surgeons working around the clock for 72 hours managed to restore him to life, but the victim remained in agony for weeks. Contrary to the defendant’s stupid, time-wasting argument, there is no formal catechism that a doctor has to recite to establish substantial risk of death. Anything involving blood is clearly sufficient.”
We shudda stood at that job selling dance lessons.