Sunday, June 23, 2013

Living the Dream: A Play in One Act

Curtain opens, revealing the interior of a small underground snack shop. KATY leans across the checkout counter, eyes closed, nodding her head to unheard music.

Several customers in business attire, including LAWYER and LAWYER’s FRIEND, wander through the aisles. Eventually, LAWYER and FRIEND, in the midst of a heated discussion, approach the checkout counter with arms full of chocolate bars, birthday cards, 20 oz. Coca-Colas, and small bags of artificially flavored potato chips.

KATY rises to check out the customers.

KATY:             Good afternoo-

LAWYER:      (continuing his animated discussion with FRIEND, ignoring KATY) I am not shitting you! If they keep this up, I will walk away from it all!

FRIEND:        No!

LAWYER:      Yes! Yessir! I will… I will… (He looks up at KATY at last)  Why, I will trade places with the cashier girl here!

(FRIEND laughs heartily.)

(KATY rolls her eyes, smiles, and continues adding up LAWYER’s purchase.)

LAWYER:      Tell you what: Let’s go tell them right now. This cashier girl can go and take my place as partner at the firm, and I will come down here and sit behind this counter all day!  

FRIEND:        (laughs convulsively, slapping at leg and gasping for breath) Oh, I can see it now! “Stewart, I’d like you to meet my replacement. We found her in tunnel snack shop!”

(KATY bags LAWYER’s purchase. LAWYER and FRIEND continue laughing.)

LAWYER:      In a heartbeat, bubba! In. A. Heartbeat.

(Still laughing, LAWYER swipes his credit card)

(KATY pulls a ring of keys out of her pocket, drops them on the counter.)
KATY:             (raising her voice above the laughter.) Okay!

(Laughter stops. LAWYER and FRIEND turn to look at KATY.)

LAWYER:      Excuse me?

KATY:            Okay. Let’s trade. Here are my shop keys. I usually try and be here to open the gate by 5:45 at the latest, and-

LAWYER:      (chuckling.) That’s cute. But I’m not sure how you’d make it at my law firm, dear.

KATY:             (with blank expression.) That’s okay. I’m a fast learner, and I did pretty well in law school.

(LAWYER and FRIEND burst out laughing again.)

FRIEND:        See? The cashier girl IS qualified!

LAWYER:      (glancing around the snack shop.) YOU went to law school?

KATY:             Yes.

LAWYER:      And what is the first case you studied at this law school in, say, your Constitutional Law class?

KATY:             Marbury vs. Madison. Same as everybody does, I think.

LAWYER:      And the most important case in Civil Procedure is...?

KATY:      Erie Railroad vs. Tompkins, which basically says there’s no such thing as general federal law, so any federal court that has a case involving residents of two different states under diversity jurisdiction must apply state law as it has been determined by the highest state court that has ruled on it.

(LAWYER and FRIEND stop laughing.)

LAWYER:      United States vs. Lopez…

KATY:             Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, said the Gun Free Schools Act was unconstitutional because there was no proof that the guns in question had ever traveled in nor affected state commerce. It therefore became the first law in generations to be knocked down by the Court for being outside of Congress’ powers under the Commerce Clause.

LAWYER:      You went to law school.

KATY:             I went to law school.

LAWYER:      You’re waiting for your bar results.

KATY:             I have no plans to sit for the bar exam.

LAWYER:      But WHY, my dear? Why would you do that? Why in the hell would somebody go to school for all of those years just to sit down here listening to their iPod all day?

KATY:             I’m just staying one step ahead of you. Why should I take the bar if I’m just going to want to work down here in a few years anyway? I’m living YOUR dream, buddy!

(LAWYER and FRIEND silently pick up their bag and EXIT.)

KATY:             (calling after them.) What? Did you change your mind? (She shakes the ring of keys.) It’s up to you, but I’m going to need to train you in how to rotate out the perishables if you decide later you want to trade up after all…

KATY shrugs. She puts her earbuds back in her ears. She leans across the counter again and resumes moving her head to the unheard music.



  1. That had to feel pretty good. I had to look up Erie Railroad vs. Tompkins, just to know what was going on, but looking it up made your triumph all the better. It's good to be confident enough to know what you want and don't want. It confuses those who are just chasing the dollar. Thank you for this.

    1. If someone is going to insult the person selling them their morning coffee, they deserve what they get, you know?

      I choose to be there (mostly because I like helping out the woman who owns the shop), but most other people are trying to earn a living however they can.

  2. Being as how I am our own legal counsel, I can tell you that you're wrong about Erie Railroad vs. Tompkins. I believe what you're talking about is actually Reading Railroad vs. Top Hat, in which the Reading Railroad sued the defendant, Mr. Top Hat, because of his ownership of all railroads on the game board, thus creating a "Monopoly." The case was resolved when Mr. Top Hat went to jail, did not pass Go, and did not collect $200.

    I may be a bit off, though. It's been about 10 years since I thought about failing the bar exam, but then just went to the bar instead.

    1. I think I'd kind of like to see the Top Hat guy fight Mr. Peanut. Cage match. No holds barred.

      My money is on Mr. Peanut, but that's only because I've got inside information about Mr. Top Hat's peanut allergy.

  3. Many super moons ago, My home/transit base was just a stones throw from NASA. I stay at hotel where a bunch of NASA employees like to come for their after work drinks. One would think that these guys where brainiacs. However, this was not the case, they were a couple cans short of a six pack... My point is "Don't judge a book by it's job title"

    Being "smart" and having a "demanding" job is a slippery karma type downward slope. Sometimes you just need to pause and smell some puppy farts

    Just maybe thats what Edward Snowden needed ...

    1. People do different things with their lives, and that's great! I mean, if someone wants to spend their days screaming down on the floor of the stock exchange or make millions a year, they should go for it.

      But some of us WANT to do other things, and things that might not earn as much money. It really doesn't mean we're less intelligent or less worthy of anything, you know?

      My life is pretty damn cool.

    2. OK, I have linked this concept to your blog

    3. In the old days, that would have gotten you traffic. These days, I just do my thing. I'm a simple gal who says a lot of words to nobody in particular!

  4. I have had this observation and theory for a long time, that the human potential is astronomically more than what are being realized. Because the opportunities for realizing this human potential is extremely limited. I call this the T-O Imbalance, as in Talent-Opportunity Imbalance.

    The Chinese had a proverb for a long, long time, "crouching tiger hidden dragon", also the name of the famous movie from a decade ago. Talent widely exists in people, yet very little is seen, because most of them would never get their chance to shine.

    Although America is said to be the land of opportunities, but the truth is, the T-O Imbalance is alive and well in this country as well. And I have yet to figure out if there is a way to reduce T-O Imbalance, artificially or naturally. Any suggestion?

    1. Potential can express itself in many other ways than simply money, or simply jobs that are economicall valued by the majority.

      I agree that our opportunities aren't the same. i agree that people don't always get what theyd eserve.

      But I also think that there a million ways to have a wonderful and fulfilling life, and jerks like this guy - who seem to think that he's more worthy than the person selling him coffee in the morning - might be a little screwed up.

      I wonder if he knows?

  5. Katy. I think you may be my daughter. Sanctomonious assholes are my specialty, as it seems the people who attempt to stand on their perceived inferiors are the worst among us. Aditionally, people who define themselves by their work are mostly ill-defined.

    Fuck Walmart!

    1. Thanks, Mooner!

      I try not to pick on people. I try not to get into disagreements at all. When I can't help myself, I try to be Bugs Bunny. Bugs Bunny never starts the fight. Bugs Bunny ends fights.

  6. I wanted to comment on this when I read it, this morning (my time), but my cellphone won't even show me the comment box on your page (yet it does on some other people's pages).

    Anyway, I wanted to say, good for you. I felt my face stretching in a fierce grin.

    1. Hi, Bill.

      Yeah, I can't get into comments this morning using the Google Chrome browser at all - I have to get in using Explorer! I'm a little pissed off about it.

      There's a lot of bad stuff that people do, but discrimination/mistreatment of people based on (perceived) economic status is pretty much acceptable, it seems. People seem to honestly believe that people with a lot of money are somehow... better. I'm not going to romanticize the poor, but intelligence and decency seem largely unrelated to education and economic status, in my experience.

  7. Well done. Lawyers can be such assholes.

    Speaking of lawyers...I'm feeling awfully inadequate right now. There's no way I would have remembered those cases, let alone what they stand for. Though to be fair, being a lawyer tends to cause you to forget anything useful/interesting you learned in law school.

    1. Haha... There are only a few of "important" law school cases I remember well by name, and I learned them relatively recently. I'm pretty good with remembering Con Law cases. A lot of the other stuff, not so much.

      I'll withhold judgment on lawyers until the Supremes' end-of-term cases are released this week.

  8. Living the dream.

    Hey. It works....

    1. There are a lot of cool ways to live. I'm going to keep trying different stuff...

  9. That's funny.
    Not to plagiarize mooner's comment, if you were my daughter, I would have forced you (Indian way- guilt talk, tiger parenting, spanking etc., etc,,) to take those law exams. You literally are a brainiac. And when moron roam around as lawyers and charge me 260per hour Why wouldn't sensible intelligent idiots like you help people like me who need some lawyer with grey matter?
    But honestly I would like a book, movie from you atleast a column in times, post,tribune etc., you are an excellent writer, has any publisher approached you? You should sell your life story, it is unique and interesting and inspirational.

    And I do lurk around once in a while in your blog and leave comments but my iPad 4 and your blogger template - bad bad combo, it eats my comments I guess.

    Seriously think about your bar exams or your book, don't waste Katy. And of course I would suggest catalog model thing for you too if you weren't smart, that's for dumb gals right?

    1. You're about the fifth person who has mentioned that the Blogger Dynamic Views template won't let you post comments. I think that might be a critical mass requiring me to downgrade my template back to some thing people can use.

      I don't know what I want to do with my life. It seems pretty unlikely that I'll ever figure it out, but I generally do okay.

  10. I love this. The assumption is anyone in a service job is an ignorant, uneducated nobody who is too stupid to know they are being made fun of. Nice job putting them in their places. I would wear my grad school ring when working catering jobs just to see if anyone noticed. No one ever did. I was mostly invisible with the exception of a gig serving the President of UNT, the academic provost and her minions, which surprised me given the rarefied air they breathe.

    1. Absolutely. I mean, I guess I should feel honored he didn't just spell out the big words so as to keep me from understanding.

      I don't think people mean to be jerks. But, like with your ring situation, they just don't really SEE the rest of us.

  11. You are near perfect. After reading this, I want to bake you a cake and make you a badass mixtape.

    1. Hi, Heather.

      After reading your comment, I think you have excellent instincts, and if making me a cake a a mix tape would make you happy, you should definitely go with your instincts!


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