When the first ambulance showed up I thought we were in trouble. By the time the third one arrived I knew that we were being had.
My friends and I were on our way down to Panama City, Florida. People in Georgia think that if you live a good life you get to go to Panama City when you die. The time you spend in Alabama on the way down is sort of like purgatory. For us, it was a little worse than that.
We were in Phenix City, Alabama when we got in the wreck. The wreck was our fault but it wasn’t bad. It didn’t seem worthy of one ambulance, much less three.
After we hit the car in front of us it started to look like one of those cars at the circus with all of the clowns inside. People kept coming out on those real skinny stretchers that are reserved mostly for neck injuries at monster truck competitions.
My friend, the driver, told us that this wouldn’t be the last we would hear about this. I said something like, “Yeah, right. Whatever. Panama City, baby!”
A year later he told me the same thing. And that’s when I said something like, “Yeah, right. Whatever. When are we going back to Panama City?”
It turns out that my friend was right. Two years after our minor accident we were both standing in the hallway of a Phenix City courthouse waiting to tell our side of the story. My friend’s attorney must not have thought much of his chances with us on the stand so he was doing everything he could to keep the case from going to a trial. By that I mean that he offered the woman who we hit a very large settlement. Her husband wanted to take it. She wanted more money. She, it turns out, had the final say in that house. We were headed to trial.
But first we had to go eat lunch. Our lawyer took us to a barbecue restaurant. The barbecue was yellow. All barbecue in Alabama is yellow. I haven’t had pork since.
We got back and told our story on the witness stand and then endured an intense cross examination from an attorney with a name like Hard Hittin’ Harv Lomax, At Bat for You! He was the kind of attorney that liked having his picture on the back of phone books and the sides of buses.
When it was time for the closing arguments, our attorney was in top form. While he was speaking to the jury I was thinking that he was going to ask one or two of them to marry him.
“You know, there are some who say that the jury system in this country doesn’t work. They don’t have much faith in you. Well, I’m not one of those people. I know that you will make the right decision.”
While we were waiting outside for the jury to make the right decision, our attorney nervously smoked one cigarette after another.
“Boys, this is the worst part about being a lawyer. You do all of your work and the results are left in the hands of a bunch of idiots. The jury system is a complete failure. I hate it.”
So much for the wedding proposals.
It was time to go back into the courtroom. The much maligned jury had reached a decision.
The jury decided that the woman who we hit did deserve some money from my friend’s insurance company. But they decided that she deserved about 5% of that settlement that was offered to her while we were standing out in the hallway.
I think our lawyer had his faith restored in the jury system.
So if you’re ever in Alabama, don’t eat the barbecue. And if you happen to run into a distinguished looking, smooth talking attorney, just to be safe, don’t believe anything he tells you.
But if he offers you a deal, take it.