she became the kind of lawyer inconsistent
with the lofty goals that drove her to
endure three years in the mental gymnasium of law school.
Ben would have to somehow confront
her with her own weapon of choice—the
Socratic Method. Ben recalled from freshman philosophy that Socrates had once
used questioning to pull the innate understanding of the Pythagorean Theorem
from an uneducated slave.
Like a kid playing with a loaded gun,
Ben prepped himself on the Socratic
Method and asked Kate to meet him at
their old college hang-out, McDonalds, a place where he and old
Kate used to discuss how they would improve all the societal problems at their doorstep.
“Kate, are you making the world a better place because you went
to law school?” he began.
“Of course, Sweetie. I support the rule of law that grants you all
your rights and freedoms, and all the contracts, copyrights, and safe
labor regulations, that keeps the markets filled with products, includ-
ing the video games you can’t live without. Lawyers are the grease
that keeps the wheels of that machine turning.”
Kate was much more battle-tested in the Socratic Method than
Ben realized. If Kate had been Socrates, the slave would be doing
double integrals by now.
Kate’s eyes shifted for a moment, confirming she was multi-task-ing again, reminding Ben that he was worth about 63 percent of her
time at any given moment (not bad, he thought, since his were nonbillable hours).
One of the customers was making such a fuss that Ben couldn’t
finish his argument. An irate middle-aged man noticed that the “ 2”
on the “ 2.99” had fallen off the menu board, and demanded a Big
Mac value meal for only 99 cents. Kate turned to Ben and looked
excited, forgetting everything he had just said.
“This all revolves around whether the “ 2” falling off the sign con-
stitutes a valid offer to sell at the lower price,” she said excitedly.
“That man cannot really believe McDonalds would sell a Big Mac
combo for just 99 cents without specifically advertising it as a sale,
and even then, everybody knows the combo meal never sells for 99
cents, only the Big Mac itself. Under every facet of contract law, he
doesn’t stand a chance,” she said, purposely raising her voice just
loud enough for everyone to hear. “He’s just trying to take advan-
tage of a simple mistake.”
The man turned to say something, but before Kate could deliver
her Perry Mason blow on behalf of corporate America, the manager
in a blue paper hat ran over like a UN peacekeeper, intent on recon-
ciliation at any cost. He chastised the clerk for being so stupid,
stepped up to the cash register, took the man’s dollar, and handed
him the Big Mac set, plus one penny.
Ben saw the manager take two dollars
out of his own pocket and put it in the cash
register, reminding the boy that the customer is always right. The manager added
that next time he accidentally knocked a
number off the menu board, it would not
be the manager’s money in the register.
The boy looked relieved that the “ 6” from
another McMeal had not fallen off instead.
“Eat this, lady,” the man said as he left
the restaurant, proudly coveting the bag
containing his hard-won prize.
Kate sat dumbfounded for a moment,
as if her legal programming had been
overloaded, as if Hamburger Diplomacy had violated the sacred rule
of law. Ben was afraid she would lash out at the man (or as she was
learning now, at least appeal the decision long enough to make victory seem moot; Ben supposed this meant, at least long enough for
his food to get cold). But something seemed to have changed in her.
“Sometimes, I wish I could strike people like that out of my life
forever,” she finally said. “Too bad I only get three strikes.”
“You’d need far more than that, I’m afraid,” Ben said. “But this
guy is harmless enough.”
“Not if you put him on a jury,” she replied, “like the one that
ruled against me on a case I just lost.”
“The legal person case?”
“Yeah, 12 harmless jurors, like Mr. McMac,” she replied, “and
they all looked at me like I was crazy. The court ruled that no rea-
sonable person would believe my client wasn’t directly involved.”
“That’s what I said,” Ben exclaimed, feeling vindicated, until he
saw the look on Kate’s face, realizing Kate still had two more strikes.
“What I mean is, I think I could like this Reasonable Person.”
“It’s just a standard, not a person, Silly,” she said with smile.
“Your so-called hero has not the courage of Achilles, the wisdom of
Ulysses or the strength of Hercules, as we say in law.”
“But he still defeated Legal Person,” Ben added, recalling from
the book, that the court would always look to do the right thing.
“He doesn’t wear a cape, but I see your point,” she said. “I suppose I lost touch with the hoi polloi, though still an acquired taste.”
Ben didn’t know what hoi polloi meant, but he figured it wasn’t
a new flavor of ice cream. (Later, he looked the word up and saw that
lawyers even had their own word for commoners.)
“If ever there was a reasonable person, it would be you,” she said,
laughing at herself like before. “Thanks for bringing me back.”
And with that, Ben imagined Legal Person fading away as quick-
ly as he had appeared. But in the wake of his departure, Ben felt his
awesome power, leaving him with a final message; he glanced down
at his paper McDonalds coffee cup and saw words appearing at the
bottom that he had never noticed before, speaking to him like an
Oracle in the legalese he was growing accustomed to: “Contents
extremely hot. Enjoy with caution.”
2015 CREATIVE AR TS COMPE TI TION
Legal Person Ben Goshi
Ben would have to
confront her with
her own weapon