Isaiah 3:13 13 The LORD takes his place in court; he rises to judge the people.
Disclaimer – you might just get more information here than you want. When a court reporter shows up for a deposition, they usually don’t have a clue what they are going to hear. Sometimes we know we’re taking an expert or the plaintiff, but it’s usually a mystery assignment. So the day I show up and know the deponent, it starts off a little uncomfortable. I used to hate being the court reporter in divorce court, as you’d sometimes know the people or see them later in the store, and you knew WAY MORE than you wanted to about what went on behind their closed doors.
And this deposition begins normally, asking the plaintiff what she had done that day. The suit was against a department store, so I figured it was about a slip and fall or perhaps a wrongful shoplifting accusation or something like that. So the attorney begins asking the witness to tell her story of what she’d done that day before she went to the store, and we go down that path. He then segues into, “So at some point while at the store, did you need to use the restroom?” Yes, she did. So she and her companions go into the restroom, and it was then that the questions began to get weird – I mean, really way out there. “So which stall did you choose to go into?” “Why did you choose that particular stall?” “Did you have purchases that you took into the stall?” “Did you take your purse?” “Did they have a hook on the door for you to hang your purse, or did you have to hold it on your lap while using the restroom?” “If you held it on your lap, was it on the right or left side?” “Was it mainly resting on your knees then?” “Was your purse large or small?” “How much did it weigh?”
I’m beginning to really wonder about this. I mean, where could this possibly be leading? What possible scenario of a case would need to know whether this woman hung her purse on the door or not or what side of her lap/legs it was sitting? It continues. “Did you actually use the restroom?” “Did you sit on the toilet, or did you kind of squat over the commode?” “Did you lean on the side of the stall to balance yourself if you didn’t sit down?” “Did they have those little paper things that you can lay on the toilet seat?” “Did you use it?” I’m trying not to be bug-eyed, but this attorney is one of the most smooth, suave guys I have ever known, and I just cannot imagine where he’s going with this. I truly am wondering if the next question was going to be, “So did you need to use number one or number two?” Thank God, we didn’t get to that, but we did continue on down the line of, “And when you were finished, did you wipe?” I mean, truly, this actually happened! This is making no sense to me whatsoever.
The witness then says, “Yes, I was getting ready to wipe, but I hadn’t reached for the toilet paper yet, and that’s when it happened.” FINALLY we get to what in the world we are there for! She goes on to describe that as she sat on the toilet, the toilet paper dispenser on the right-hand wall jumped off the wall and flew across the stall, landing on her left foot. Yup, she didn’t touch it – it just flew off and went a foot or so to the left rather than falling straight down. And she ended up not really realizing she was hurt until two weeks later when she got an x-ray of her foot and it had a hairline fracture and realized it must have been from this department store incident.
I had told my mom and sister the story, and now every time we are together in a large bathroom, each of us in a stall, I’ll usually say, “Watch out for the toilet paper!” We’ll all die laughing, and when we come out, the other people in the bathroom are usually keeping their heads down like, “Don’t even look at those idiots – what in the world!” It has gotten funnier over the years, I must say. And you’re wondering how in the world I’m going to twist this around into something spiritual…
As I remembered these questions and the absolute randomness of them, the crazy nature of the subject matter, discussing things that SHOULD NOT BE discussed, it made me think that there is some day that we will all answer for the things we do in secret. In the Bible, Jesus would even say that if you had a thought in your mind of lust toward another, you were committing adultery in your heart. This is proof that God not only knows what we do, but what we think, and surely what we do in secret. I was embarrassed for my acquaintance, I was embarrassed to hear these details of whether she sat or squatted or leaned against the wall of the stall to use the restroom, but how awful is it going to be some day when we have to answer for even the thoughts that go through our mind? Thank you, Lord, for the forgiveness and peace you offer – that there is no fear of what might come out on judgment day, because it’s all been forgiven and forgotten!
Was with a friend yesterday who kept tripping on her flip-flop, and it reminded me of some of the “are you kidding me” trials I’ve reported. The trial we called “The Flip-Flop case” involved a man who had gone to the U-Haul store in Charleston on a rainy day, wearing flip-flops, and he tripped walking toward the counter and injured his knee, I think, pretty badly. U-Haul’s defense was that if you are wearing flip-flops, you can’t complain when you slip and fall.
I have to tell you, when they were doing their opening statements, I was thinking the same thing. Those things are dangerous, even when it’s not raining! So we spend a WEEK learning about the slippability of flip-flops. Did you know that some flip-flops have, say, a slippability rating of 10, where others only have a rating of 3 or 4? We learned about the rubber composition and how the grooves in the bottom are made, or if they have no grooves, what that does instead. I mean, court reporters learn a lot of things as we do our jobs, but this is one I could have done without. Long, slippy story short, the jury didn’t take a long time to side with U-Haul – if you wear flip-flops and slip and fall, don’t go suing anyone!
The even more stupid case was one that Judge Ranson did as one of her very first cases. I remember being so excited to do our first trial together, and I was writing realtime for her, as the first realtime courtroom in Kanawha County – I mean, we were in the big-time! Well, this case belonged in the little-time….this guy had bought a sander from Black & Decker and had gotten it kind of gunked up, so while the sander is running, he takes it and knocks it against his leg to try to undo the muck that had accumulated. And of course, it being a sander, it sanded right through his jeans and took a small hunk out of his leg. So he sues because there wasn’t a warning that said, “Don’t touch your body with this sander while running!” It reminded me of the time my grandmother wanted to iron a wrinkle out of her dress and didn’t want to have to set up the ironing board, so she just gave the dress a little swipe with the iron – and you got it! Leg also took a swipe and she got burned. I wish I could remember the lawyers who had taken these cases, but I can’t – I’m sure those lawyers lost their rear end in costs and fees and wish they’d never agreed to take those cases.
And these “are you kidding me” stories remind me of the old Indian legend that is told about a young boy who hiked a tall rugged mountain, capped with dazzling snow. When he reached the top, he stood on the rim of the world. He could see forever, and his heart swelled with pride. Then he heard a rustle at his feet, and looking down, he saw a snake. Before he could move, the snake spoke.
“I am about to die,” said the snake. “It’s too cold for me up here, and I’m freezing. There’s no food, and I’m starving. Put me under your shirt and take me down to the valley.” “No,” said the youth. “I am forewarned. I know your kind. You are a rattlesnake. If I pick you up, you will bite, and your bite will kill me.” “Not so,” said the snake. “I will treat you differently. If you do this for me, you will be special. I will not harm you.”
At last the youth tucked the snake under his shirt and carried it down to the valley. There he laid it gently on the grass, when suddenly the snake coiled and leapt, biting him on the leg. “But you promised…” cried out the youth in pain. “You knew what I was when you picked me up,” the snake said as it slithered away. The boy knew the danger of touching the snake, yet he gave in to the temptation. The devil is so subtle in his temptations that sometimes it can seem harmless, but the results are painful.
Next time an “are you kidding me” situation comes along, resist the temptation!
My name is Teresa Evans. I am a wife to Tom, a retired Circuit Judge, and I am a court reporter by trade, a mother by God's grace and a lover of Jesus Christ. I've grown up in a family blessed with many miracles, and have received multiple miracles myself.