I’m spending a few days in Arizona with my BFF from high school. We found ourselves exploring her allergy to pepper. Yes, to pepper. Oh, and to garlic. And now, it seems, to rosemary. It’s gotten so that, if we go out to eat, she tells the server, “no seasoning of any kind.” Even then, she once ordered a salad, no dressing, “seriously, no dressing at all.” It arrived with little black dots all over it. At first, she thought they had simply not washed the Romaine well enough. But one bite convinced her that the chef simply could not bring himself to send something out from his kitchen with nothing done to it. So when she had said, “no dressing,” he felt that pepper would, at least, make it prettier.
So now it’s “no seasoning of any kind.”
Arizona is very dry, and my lips are chapped. As a result, as it turns out, I have become very sensitive to my go-to-spices, pepper and lemon juice, among other things. (I love Montreal Steak Seasoning, which is mostly pepper, so much that I usually travel with a small jar of it.)
Sylvie was bemoaning the fact that, even though we, as a culture, have become more aware and sensitive to those of us who suffer from allergies, people just don’t “get it,” her allergy. It is unusual, after all.
So I told her the story I had never shared with her about my friend Cindy’s car. When I was a baby lawyer, my legal assistant was a friend of mine. After all, when you’re working at Big Law, you have no time ever to socialize outside the office, so you find friends at work.
Beach. Boardwalk. Blinded.
One Sunday, the first summer since I’d graduated law school, Cindy and I decided to go to Rehoboth Beach. Cindy was the one who could afford a car. I was the one paying back student loans. So she drove.
I was excited to go; I was 23 years old; it was the first hot weekend of the year and the weather was perfect for both a drive and a day at the beach and on the boardwalk. I had packed both a picnic lunch and what we used to call “an ice chest” full of cold drinks. And I had a pretty new bathing suit to show off and a beach bag loaded with sunscreen, towels, a beach blanket, snacks, and other necessities.
After we loaded up the car, I fell into the passenger seat, exhausted. Cindy fired up the engine, we drove half a block and . . . my eyes snapped shut. I could not open them. It was the weirdest sensation; I remember it vividly. Cindy made suggestions but I can’t even remember what they were. The muscles had clamped my eyelids together and I couldn’t figure out what to do about it. I couldn’t smell anything odd. I hadn’t put on any makeup or the sunscreen yet. How can you solve a problem when you don’t even know what it is?
Nothing occurred to me until, “Well, let’s open the window and see if that helps.” I had to feel for the window crank. Once I opened it, though, and angled my face into the fresh air, sure enough, I could open my eyes.
What was the problem? Was I allergic to something? We never found out. Cindy had her car serviced soon after but the mechanic had never heard of such a thing and didn’t find anything wrong.
Stress Is A Blindfold
I was reminded of this odd story by a strange happenstance today. One of my favorite clients complained that we had sent an email to opposing counsel without his approval and that the attached draft agreement had highlighted a clause that he had asked us to unbold. “I ask that you keep future versions tighter and confirm them with me before they are sent as this is getting out of hand.”
We were a bit taken aback. My assistant nervously reported, “The agreement I sent did not highlight that provision, and Tom reviewed and approved that version before I sent it.”
So I told my assistant to set the record straight. “Tom, see your 3/31 email, attached, approving my draft email and the proposed agreement, which did not highlight the provision you question. See my subsequent email to opposing counsel, also attached here.”
Tom reacted quick as a rattlesnake. “I am not looking for back and forth on this. I don’t expect to review and revise every word in the agreement when you send out a “final” version. Let’s move forward. Please be more careful.”
I told Clayton to let it go. “He’s stressed. Stress is a blindfold. He isn’t able to see straight right now. He may sometime, but not right now. So let it go.”
Stress is a problem you may not be able to discern right now. Once it goes away, you may realize that it was stress that caused the problem, but, even if not, if you find the solution, grab it. You don’t have to identify the problem to find the solution.
Everyone, myself included, has stressful moments in life. It can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel and, as your attorney, I will help you to take your blindfold off. If you’re interested in retaining my help, reach out to us at Open Palm Law.
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Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, two of which she served as a professor of law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen Award, an honor bestowed in the United States Supreme Court upon those who have provided exceptional leadership in the American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.