One of the privileges of working in Hartford is that someone in charge paid attention to Julius Caesar, who said, “Give the people bread and circuses.” By circuses, I do not refer to the limitless entertainment afforded by my fellow lawyers. I mean that on Fridays at noon, if one is inclined, it is possible to walk to State Street, acquire a nicely greasy lunch, and hear live rock ‘n’ roll.
On a recent Friday noon, I wandered down there. I stayed for two songs. I checked out the sound equipment: Crown amps, a good sign. The band had a chick singer. The drummer was solid. They used Shure SM-58 microphones, another sign of excellent professional judgment. For a moment, I felt nostalgic for the old life. There I was, a gray-haired ex-hippie pretending to be a suit, and wishing, just transiently, that I were on the terrace, belting out numbers to the largely indifferent crowd. I missed it.
In the interests of a reality check I began comparing the professions for their relative virtues and detriments. Here are my conclusions.
The band: Late nights.
The law: Early mornings and late nights.
The band: Working Thanksgiving, Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Purim, Yom Kippur, Columbus Day, Hanukkah, Flag Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Hallowe’en and New Year’s Eve. Working every weekend, both days.
The law: Working Purim, Flag Day, Columbus Day, Martin Luther King Day; some weekends, both days.
Risks attendant to the profession
The band: Electrocution, fires, homicide, motor vehicle accidents, broken bones resulting from dropped pianos or amplifiers; herniated discs, abdominal hernias, emotional distress, stage fright, drug and alcohol dependence and/or overdose; laryngitis, deafness, marital discord, freezing to death in unheated apartments or Volkswagen buses; falls from the stage or loading dock. Pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases; being stalked by deranged fans.
The law: Homicide, suicide, emotional distress, motor vehicle accidents, assault, laryngitis, boredom, blindness or visual disturbances; drug, alcohol, computer solitaire or video game dependence or addiction; marital discord, freezing to death in offices with defective air conditioning systems; amputation of extremities with hole punches or slammed file drawers; puncture wounds from staples and letter openers; terminal egomania, carpal tunnel syndrome.
The band: Annual salary commensurate with shelter residents and food stamp recipients. Insurance? Are you kidding?
The law: Annual salary consumed by student loans, dry cleaning, auto repair and replacing broken wheelie carts. Health insurance. Pension, if you last that long.
The band: Generic macaroni and cheese. McDonald’s. Deli platters. Once, on Thanksgiving at H.L. Wilfred’s in Hamden, a turkey. Diner food.
The law: Starbuck’s. Annie’s Organic macaroni and cheese. Dunkin’ Donuts and sushi. Occasional haute cuisine. Summer potlucks and Christmas parties. Cake for office celebrations. Bowls of chocolate in other lawyers’ offices. Jelly beans provided by secretaries. Cookies baked by spouses and dispatched to bolster morale and reduce caloric intake at home.
The band: Lack of anonymity; being recognized in the grocery store/at the gas station. Assault, battery and demands for autographs and hair samples by deranged fans. Being sought after and forced to explain why you did not play “Free Bird” then or ever.
The law: Having a new acquaintance regard you with the warmth ordinarily conferred upon stinging jellyfish, pythons or species rodentiae – until that person needs your help. Then, you can’t get off the phone.
The band: Captured on vinyl, magnetic, laser-friendly or digital media in or out of tune, while drunk, stoned, emotionally disturbed or suffering from a broken bone caused by a dropped piano.
The law: Captured on Westlaw as a winner…or a loser. Doomed to recognition for making good or bad law.
All in all, the professions are roughly equal. However, I am available to audition at any time.
Amy F. Goodusky, a former paralegal, rock ‘n’ roll singer and horseback riding instructor, is of counsel at O’Brien, Tanski & Young in Hartford.