Birds chirping. Loudly. Every morning. I forgot the sound. It is nice to wake to. The chirping is common here in the north country in the summer. In the winter, nothing. They have all gone south.
I spent time with an old friend and former employee yesterday. Bob.
We visted in the afternoon. Had dinner together last night.
I had not seen Bob since I retired 4 years ago.
He showed up in the afternoon with a sandwich for me. Wrapped in aluminum foil. Still warm. Fried eggs and peppers on thick white Italian bread. From a little hole in the wall sandwich shop named Rosa’s here in Utica. I had already had lunch. But ate the sandwich anyhow. My diet is being absolutely destroyed this trip!
Bob and I had a pleasant time talking about days gone by.
I first met Bob when I was a young lawyer. Very young. Twenty five. Just out of law school. Working for an older lawyer.
Bob owned a dog. Ollie. Ollie bit a baby that was visiting someone else in the building where he lived. Pretty badly. Thirty two bite mark scars on the little girl’s face after healing. This was 1961. The art of plastic surgery back then was not what it is today.
Bob had no insurance.
He and his parents hired the older lawyer I worked for to represent Bob when he was sued by the little girl and her parents. I was assigned the trial. My older lawyer employer told me it was a loser. That was why it was assigned to me. The dog had bit three other people previously in three seperate attacks. A good case to bite my teeth on, he thought.
New York law at the time was known as the one bite rule. An owner was liable if the the dog bit one person previous to the case you were involved in. The one bite put the owner on notice of the dangerous propensities of the animal.
Such was my first civil case to defend. A loser.
I could not accept that I was going to lose. Such was the nature of the beast. Me.
I visited the 3 previous people who had been atttacked by Bob’s dog. I found out none had reported the bites to Bob. Bob confirmed that no one ever told him about the attacks. Interesting. The notice of his dog’s dangerous propensities had never been conveyed to Bob.
I defended the case on the lack of notice. After a 3 day trial, the jury returned a verdict for Bob. The jury said he was not responsible.
I won my first civil trial. Bob was not liable.
Ollie never knew. Bob had the dog put away after the attack on the little girl.
I saw Bob off and on over the years. We lived in the same small town. There was no relationship. We were just two people who knew each other and would say hello.
Bob married Jeanette.
They worked hard. Never quite made it. Owned a restaurant in Old Forge for several years. It failed. They were forced into bankruptcy. Lost their home to foreclosure.
Bob futzed around. One odd job after another. Just making enough money. Sometimes not enough.
I ran into Bob about 14 years ago. Asked how he was doing. Terribly, he said. He was out of work. Things were tough.
I gave Bob a job in my law firm. Always room for one more employee.
Bob became the firm’s gopher. A glorified one! It was he who called himself the gopher. He ran errands. We had offices in Utica, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Saratoga Springs at the time. He drove to them for various reasons. He went to the courthouse to file papers, went to Rosa’s to get me lunch, did some data entry. He had his own small office. If any odd ball thing had to be done, it was…..call Bob!
We all came to depend on him.
In the meantime, Bob remained gainfully employed with the law firm, taking home a pay check every week, had hospitilization and a pension plan. He even bought a new house.
Yesterday was the first time in 4 years that we saw each other.
Bob retired two years ago. After 12 years with the firm.
He is now 73. He has aged a bit. Lost a lot of weight. Has a hip problem that slows him down. And his wife Jeanette of 51 years died 4 months ago.
How sad! He is still grieving. I grieved with him yesterday.
He is ok money wise. Just sold his house at a handsome profit. The same little house he bought while working for me. He has his pension from the firm and Social Security. He has found a nice apartment in an excellent complex in Utica.
He and Jeanette were blessed with two loving daughters. He has grandchildren. Hopefully time will heal his wounds over the loss of Jeanette.
I told him to get himself down to Key West to visit. That would fix him up!
It was good to spend some time with an old client who had become an old friend.
Enjoy your day!