Who else shouldn’t sue?

Wait. What does this say here?
That? That’s the usual clause.
That’s in every contract.
That just says, “If any of the parties…
“participating in this contract…
“are shown not to be in their right mind…
“the entire agreement
is automatically nullified.”
I don’t know.
It’s all right. That’s in every contract.
That’s what they call a sanity clause.
You can’t fool me.
There ain’t no Sanity Claus. — from A Night at the Opera

Going Postal. A very big, visibly angry worker from our local post office stomped into our office several times, insisting he had a case against the USPS for denying him worker’s comp and disability. I kept explaining we didn’t do worker’s comp cases. He came back several times, angrier and angrier, always just as big.

His disability was apparently a leg injury–he was limping really heavily, dare I say, theatrically? Apart from his menacing manner, I noticed that each time he barged in, his limp was on a different leg.

Occasionally, when I saw him on the street, he didn’t have any limp.

I asked Spanish John, our daily mailman, about Limping Guy. Spanish John (who once went out for Halloween costumed as a Gone-Postal Worker, wearing his uniform and carrying a bloody cleaver), said, “Oh yeah, him,” and looked queasy. He knew Limping Guy–they were based at the same post office–and told me that the USPS was afraid to fire Limping Guy, not because he might then have a real lawsuit against them but because they feared he’d actually Go Postal and make headlines over their dead bodies.

The dame in lipstick. All of us in the office knew this woman, another drop-in, was nuts as soon as we saw her fuschia lipstick applied far outside her actual lips. Lipstick Lady told us she needed to sue a big beauty product company because they had stolen her formula for perfume or something. Never mind I kept telling her we did civil rights law, not patent infringement, or whatever it was.

(Early on I discovered that using the term “civil rights” was an ineffective way of ducking crazy clients. Each of them would argue, “Okay, but they are my civil rights that are being abused.” Apparently “civil rights” are anything anybody thinks they are. So I perfected a new argument: “You want a lawyer who specializes in your problem. Same thing with doctors. If you have a heart condition, you wouldn’t go to a podiatrist, would you?” That tack worked, especially on those antic days when I changed “podiatrist” to “proctologist.”)

Lipstick Lady pulled out her thick “case documents” for our inspection. She had made them very pretty, the first letters of each sentence writ large and childlike in vari-colored markers, and each page decorated with spangles and glued-on ribbons and such.

Mysterious lights shining in the window. An elderly lady, soft spoken and very well dressed (disarming:as anyone who lives in New York City knows, crazy people usually dress oddly in many layers of cloth) came in without an appointment.

She told me a convoluted story about the daughter of a friend who had been murdered many years ago, murderer never found, and now, twenty years later, some unknown people were shining bright lights into the narrator’s windows at night.

She’d gone to the police but they didn’t seem to be interested. She lived in upper Manhattan, a couple of blocks from a huge psychiatric institute, and I yearned to suggest she pay them a visit. Instead, I urged her to buy some window blinds.


  • Don’t drop into lawyers’ offices without appointments.
  • Don’t drop in on a lawyer who does not specialize in your particular legal matter. Sometimes a civil right is just a cigar.
  • If you have a heart condition, go to a cardiologist.
  • Don’t misapply your makeup and please, please, don’t decorate whatever documentation you possess, especially not with spangles that drop off into the carpeting. They’re a bitch to vacuum up.
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