I tried to figure out an average of how many boxes of tissues the law firms I have worked at went through on any given month. It’s hard because we’re talking boxes and boxes here. Usually they’re picked up in those huge shrink-wrapped packages at the local Costco because otherwise it’s just too expensive. I don’t want to talk about tissues, here, though. What I want to do is try to analyze and categorize the kinds of crying and what they’re actually telling you.
Now in the beginning I admit that I was still a normal person and I felt concern whenever someone started bawling in my office. I would act really sympathetic and try to comfort them, maybe run and go get their family to help with a really earnest look of concern on my face. Then after another twenty or thirty times of this I kind of thought maybe I was getting used, you know? Like some of these people were just pushing for pity or trying to get me to do something.
I started trying to analyze what they were doing. I looked for all those markers the psychologists say to use, like do they blink too much? Supposedly that means they’re lying. Doth the lady protest too much? That’s been a giveaway since the 1600’s. Then after another 100 or so crying sessions – not me, you dummy, the clients – I started seeing the trends. It really got pretty obvious to me and I tried keeping notes. Who knows, maybe I thought that fifteen to twenty years later I would be telling you about those kinds of people. Hey, that kind of sounded like a prison sentence without parole.
Well, I should say right up front that I’ve seen so much of this crying stuff that I can’t even fake the consolation anymore. I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t think I can cry for myself, even if I wanted to. I just can’t. All these people have just drained any feeling of good tears and sadness out of me. I don’t think I’m alone here. Cops deal with this stuff all the time and we call them ‘hardened’ like it’s a good thing. Maybe it’s more of a defense mechanism, like cops and lawyers dodge so much of this stuff that we’re just not capable of feeling it anymore.
Before you even try to tell me, I know that women cry easier than men, and women fake the crying business all the time to get what they want. I hear the fake other stuff, too. But with that in mind, remember that this list is based on a huge sample of people from all walks of life. I’m taking the ‘women-cry-a-lot’ thing into consideration.
Crying because they realized they screwed up
I certainly agree that there are some people out there who cry on their lawyer’s shoulder because they realized they screwed up and are genuinely sorry. They may be sorry for themselves, or maybe for putting their family through all this mess. However, the whole thing has taught them a serious lesson. Their tears are real.
When you look in their eyes you can see that they learned from this whole thing. It’s struck home and they grew as a person a little bit. The tears are their way of getting it out so they can move on. For a few minutes I kind of thought Lindsey Lohan was doing this when she was first sentenced. But then she got arrested a bunch more times, stole that necklace, drove drunk, hit somebody, and then tried to cry AGAIN in court.
Crying because they realized they can manipulate people like you
Which brings me to my second kind of crier. These are not like the authentic ones, because you’re probably only going to meet one or two of those real criers in your entire life, if at all. Why is that, you ask? Because by the time you get to meet them they’ve gotten past the whole thing and the shock of getting arrested or sued. They’re done crying. They’re adults and they’re moving on to dealing with the aftermath and so they’re in your office to hire a lawyer.
If they’re crying on your shoulder at this point then they’re doing it to manipulate you like they do with their parents, brothers and sisters, neighbors, . . . well basically everybody in the world.
We have only ourselves to blame for this one, folks. Society taught them that if they cry, people in authority will run to their aid. It started with their kindergarten teachers, continued with middle school and their soccer coaches, then really got in full swing in high school when they realized they have real power. They learned during those years that if they failed a test or something they just go sob for a few minutes and they get to re-take it.
You, my friend, are just the next one in line to get the big teary eyes treatment. You’re going to fall for it the first couple of times, at least. You will fight really hard in some worthless hearing just to help them. Your protective instinct is going to get riled up and you’re not going to be able to help yourself. And then a week later the lawyer on the other side will hand you something like a follow-up police report or a newspaper clipping showing you that your client was lying up a storm and you got snookered.
Hopefully they will just laugh at you. You certainly don’t want the Judge calling a conference and asking you pointed questions about whether you ran a background check before making your argument in court. This could be a violation of the second rule of lawyering which is that if somebody is going to jail after the hearing, you’re supposed to make sure it’s your client and not you. They’re probably back in their favorite dirty biker bar telling everyone funny stories about the look on your face when they were lying to you about everything under the sun. I’ve never been in the joint but a weekend for contempt of court would really crimp your style with the secretaries back at the office.
Crying because they lost
These are the worst, even worse than the ones who lie to your face to manipulate you. I can’t stand the ones who follow me back to the office just to cry because they lost. Boo, hoo. These people remind me of Tammy Faye Bakker crying through all that thick makeup after she and her husband got caught and suddenly the gravy train was over.
The reason I can’t stand the losers who cry is because I’ve been telling them for months now that we have to get witnesses, do background checks, write up the timeline, etc. It never surprises me that we got surprised us in court with your former neighbors who testified about how bad you were. Oh, and all that jazz about the pictures they printed from your Facebook page weren’t a surprise to me either. You deleted them like I told you to after our first meeting but things you put out there on the internet don’t just disappear. You should have thought about the downside to posting topless pictures of you holding guns and drinking beer with your kids behind you on the sofa.
I can do good things but I can’t work magic. I tell every single client about the risks of losing right from the first time I meet them. I explain as many of the ways of losing that I can think of and I keep lots of notes about what I said. You see, I know that when you lose you’re going to follow me back to the office and want to cry and complain for a couple of hours. When you start getting mad and trying to turn your tears into the blame game, I’m going to pull out the file and go through the notes, line by line, showing you exactly how I thought things could go bad and what I told you to do to get prepared for it.
Besides, these criers don’t know when to quit. They just keep going and going about the same things until they turn on me. They haven’t processed the loss yet and it just goes around and around in their head. They go nuts for a couple of hours. Sometimes I kind of want to help them deal with it because I’ve had to go through losing a few here and there, too. The thing is that I just can’t have them crying up a storm in the waiting room. I try to stick them in a conference room but they keep wandering loose and trying to come in my office. I’m on the phone or trying to talk to another client and here comes weepy, one of the worst of the seven dwarves. I can’t drop everything going on in my office and take care of them, and staff has real work to do. Isn’t this what psychologists are for? Besides, the retainer ran out right before lunch on the third day of the trial and you now don’t have the money to pay me anymore. Stop dragging us down around here.
Crying because they don’t know what to do
Why do people think they can come in my office and cry about what to do? Shut up and think for a minute. Stop crying and try using your head. If you did it more often you probably wouldn’t be in my office. All that wailing and gnashing of teeth thing is interfering with your brain waves or something. It’s preventing me from thinking, too. You can’t talk to me about the details or let me think when you’re asking for yet another box of tissues. You’re just going on and on in some pseudo-hysterical way about how bad things are. Well stop it. This is wasting time and money. I don’t mind billing you but I do mind the drivel about what should you do, over and over.
Plus, you remind me of my ex-wife. She was absolutely stupid about crying when she couldn’t figure out what to do. Every time I tried to get her to think through the options with me it just set her off worse. I understand being upset and finding it tough to deal with things. But come on, people. Get it out of your system and start dealing with reality. I’m here to help and come up with solutions, not listen to you like some Freudian flack.
Crying because they want me to do free work
These criers don’t bother me. They infuriate me. I don’t have any paperweights or letter openers on my desk because I KNOW that sooner or later I would go postal on one of them. Do they really think that I’m such a sucker that I would go spend hours and days working for you for free just because you kept wiping your tears off my desk? I’ve heard so many hard luck stories that I just can’t be impressed. If I started working for free for every person who told me some sad story and cried a lot I would be broke and living on the street, probably just like them. I run a business, people. I’ve never tried it but my landlord probably won’t cut my rent just because I cry. They’re lawyers, too.
I think the problem here is that too many of us lawyers pick up on a personal crusade and the word gets out. Bums come out of the woodwork because they think that you will take cases for free just because you hate cops or hate big business, or hate something else. These criers fan your flames to get what they want, which is usually revenge. They’re like the manipulator criers but they’re just trying to get out of paying us a huge amount of money to hurt somebody else.
You see, for lawyers it’s like that old saying. In for a penny, in for a pound. Unless you get court permission to withdraw, you can’t. You start working on a case and you might be stuck seeing it through to the end. These criers know that and they’re trying suck you in. Every second you waste on their case is a second you could be earning five cents working for something else. What’s that? You think five cents per second doesn’t sound like much? Well for you math challenged people out there it comes out to $3 a minute. That $180 per hour, people. That guy pumping gas into your second-hand Lexus your parents gave you so you look fancy makes .0025 cents per second. Now that’s something to cry about.