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The Lawsuit

True story: A thief was climbing on top of someone's home, staking it out for a heist. Suddenly, the roof collapsed, dropping the man twenty feet to the floor below and breaking one of his legs. His lawsuit against the homeowner was settled out of court.

Who needs fiction when the truth is this fantastic? Any time people stub their toe these days, a lawsuit follows. Sometimes they win; sometimes they lose. Mostly, the lawyers just smile. At some point, however, we have to take responsibility for ourselves as we walk down the street. If we fall into a 3-foot ditch in our neighbor's yard, then we have a "failure to open our eyes" problem, not a lawsuit.

As it stands, we try to protect ourselves by insuring everything. To step outside your house, you need walking insurance. After all, you might distract a driver into skidding off the road and into a bush where a dog is leaving a duker and where said dog suffers shock-related bowel problems that last the rest of his life and for which you, in turn, are responsible. We've got liability insurance, fire insurance, earthquake insurance, renter's, homeowner's, pet, dental, whole life, annual renewal, disability, pension, worker's comp, HMOs, PPOs... we have to insure our 18 because the dealer has an ace.

They even have insurance against being sued.

At the mall last week, I asked a man what he did for a living.

"I sue people," he said.

"Oh, so you're a lawyer?"

"No," he replied. "I just sue people."

Imagine owning a restaurant. Today's restaurateur must wake up in a cold sweat at night from the possibilities. Here comes little Jimmy, carrying his tray of carbs, when suddenly he trips on a stool and sprains his wrist. His mom sues the restaurant owner for building such an evil stool, she sues Nike for making the shoes that allowed the boy to trip in the first place, she sues the tray maker for its unbalanced plastic, and she sues God for not watching over the situation. She'll see them ALL in court.

I've had all I can take of the lawsuit. I don't want to hear another story about who sued whom for how much. And don't even think about calling me to jury duty. I've got more important things to do. Like picking my blackheads. I would rather live in anarchy than participate in the madness. If I make a mistake and cause you harm, please shoot me at high noon in town square.

Perhaps the problem is that there are too many lawyers and not enough tragedy to go around. It stems from when these attorneys were young and their parents told them that they could be whatever they wanted when they grew up -- a doctor or a lawyer. All these years later, we have so many doctors and lawyers that we have to create grievances to sustain them. How much money is doled out each year to "mental hardship," something we all experience every time we merge onto the freeway?

To heck with this writing game. I'm just going to walk alongside well-insured companies, hoping for a sign to fall on my head or a hole to open up beneath me so that I can show them some real creative hardship. I've got disorders that will make Tourette Syndrome look like a Buddhist meditation and which will bear my name when it's all over.

And, at long last, I shall lay claim to my birthright as a hapless American victim.


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