Posts Tagged ‘Humor Columns & Humorous Essays’

Plumber vs. Lawyer (Humor Column)

Saturday, June 9th, 2018

People think lawyers have a built-in edge – an advantage which helps them cope with, and even avoid, life’s little difficulties.

Take plumbing, for example. To most people, a lawyer is an easy match for even the craftiest plumber. And if something does go wrong, so what? At least lawyers can visit legal vengeance, without going broke paying the price of justice.

Consequently, if a lawyer is victimized by a plumber, and is foolish enough to admit it, she shouldn’t expect anything resembling sympathy. Scorn is more like it, with a bit of barely hidden pleasure thrown in.

Her listeners may chuckle at her misadventures, and possibly pretend to sympathize. But what are they really doing? They’re crossing her off their list of lawyers. After all, any attorney who can’t hold her own against a plumber, can’t be much of a lawyer, right? Well not necessarily, but more on that later.

As you may have guessed by now, I’m one of those lawyers who have suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous plumbing bills. I’ve also made the mistake of telling non-lawyers about my woes. Here’s their reaction:

“What’s your problem? You could always sue the guy.”
“You of all people should have known better.Why didn’t you get it in writing?”
“Why didn’t you check him out first?”

Now that’s what I call sympathy!

These are all good questions, of course. At least in theory. But what happens in the real world when you try to take a lawyerly approach to plumbing transactions? It doesn’t work – that’s what happens.

Sure, you can solicit references and letters of recommendation. You can call the Better Business Bureau and check the local courthouse to see who has lost the most lawsuits. These are all good ideas – I recommend them highly.

Unless of course your living room cushions are acting as flotation devices.

But if time is of the essence, and it almost always is when it comes to plumbing, you go directly to Step Two. You leave messages on every plumber’s answering machine within a 30 mile radius. Then you wait for the phone to ring.

How do you pick your plumber? It’s simple. The first one to call back, show up and actually agree to do the job some time this century, is clearly your man.

Price? References? Qualifications? Get real! If a warm body with some tools walks through that door, grab him. Even if he does demand your first born and your left arm as part of his fee.

Now that you’ve found someone who isn’t booked up until the year 2000, then what? Being a trained professional, you ask for a written estimate, right? Naturally he’ll be glad to give you one, once he’s had a chance to check out the problem.

Well that certainly sounds reasonable. Except for one thing. In order to check out the problem he has to find the problem, right? Somehow, this always involves drilling several pre-estimate holes through your plaster kitchen ceiling.

You now have an unusable bathroom and a ravaged kitchen, and you’re still awaiting that estimate. But that’s okay. He’ll be glad to recommend a plasterer.

Hours go by, and your plumber is still narrowing down the problem. You watch him, and try to decide whether he knows what he’s doing. This is quite amusing because you wouldn’t recognize a wrench if you tripped over it.

You can’t postpone going to the office any longer. So you give up awaiting the elusive estimate and leave this complete stranger alone in your house with all your worldly possessions.

Rational? No. Lawyerlike? Certainly not. But it’s either that, or become a plumber’s apprentice, and frankly, you’re not qualified.

Now that I’ve told my plumbing tale in public, I’ll surely never get another legal client. But that’s okay. It’s probably time to think about going into another line of work.

I’m not certain what I want to do, but I understand that plumbers are rather well paid. And I’m getting pretty handy with a plunger.


(This column was published in Hysteria Magazine, way back when I was a baby humor columnist.)

How To Visit An Art Museum (Humor Column)

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

May 18th is International Museum Day, a holiday founded by ICOM (International Council of Museums) in 1977. So I figured this was as good a time as any for me to post my How To Visit An Art Museum

By Madeleine Begun Kane

There are many good reasons to visit an art museum. Impressing a date. Vying for a slot in the cultural elite. Some people actually go because they appreciate art. If you’re a novice art fan, this is how it’s done:

1. Your virgin museum visit should take place while you’re out of town. That way, your displays of ignorance will be witnessed only by strangers.

2. When you’re a safe distance from home, ask a concierge, cabby, or vagrant to suggest a show. It doesn’t matter whom you ask. At any given time, the entire population of any given city is racing to see some highly hyped, limited-engagement exhibit which is over tomorrow. This is the show everyone will recommend.

3. Arrive at the museum blissfully unaware that the show’s been sold out for months. Do so by car. In order to save time, drop your spouse off to buy tickets. Spend an hour touring the parking lot. Worry about what your mate will do to you when and if you ever see her again.

4. Coax your car into a quasi-legal spot. Sprint towards a distant building which presumably houses art. Remind yourself, once again, to join a gym.

5. Encounter an unruly mob of art aficionados awaiting admission. Hear rumors that the exhibit is sold out. Ascertain rumors are true. Curse out museum. Curse out vagrant. Wonder how you’ll ever locate diminutive spouse in horde of lanky art lovers. Wonder whether finding her is such a good idea.

6. Encounter a couple arguing about whether to leave. One mate insists this is no way to see art. (You’re inclined to agree.) The other gripes about the wasted admission cost. Save their marriage by purchasing tickets.

7. Wend your way through throngs in quest of spouse. Miraculously find her commiserating with sisterhood of women who lost mates to parking lot abyss. Proudly display tickets just as spouse proudly displays hers.

8. Talk about selling extra tickets. Argue that you should have checked with each other before buying tickets. Talk about selling all four tickets and abandoning art for a mall.

9. Notice that one pair of tickets is for one o’clock show and the other isn’t good until four. Decide that since it’s nearly one now, you’ll worry about unloading second set later.

10. Find out the museum is two hours behind schedule; you won’t make it beyond lobby before three. Ask yourselves, yet again, why exactly you came.

11. Wait on line. Learn it’s the wrong line. Fight way onto another line which will presumably get you into exhibit you no longer want to see.

12. Wait another half-hour in sweltering firetrap. Ask spouse to save your place on line while you contend with the coat-check. Dispose of jackets. Ask guard what kind of lunatic runs the museum.

13. Reclaim spot in front of spouse. Ignore belligerent patrons, badgering you to go to the end of the line.

14. Gain entry into crammed room that ostensibly holds priceless works of art. Strain neck in vain attempt to view paintings. Get a random glimpse of what may or may not be an Impressionistic work. Watch height-impaired spouse try to crawl her way to the front. Rescue her from enraged mob.

15. Overhear artsy noises about the exhibit. Comments like “Pointillism is a lot like connect the dots.” After an hour of this, gratefully spy an exit sign — the only mounted object in plain view.

16. Consider using the museum restrooms until you see the lines. Embark on parking lot trek, praying your car hasn’t been ticketed or towed.

When you return home, you’ll want to impress family and friends with your new found erudition. So don’t leave the museum without lots of literature. Then be sure to study the brochures and reviews intently … so you can describe every painting you failed to see.

Office Party Follies

Monday, November 6th, 2006

There are few “fun” activities quite so vexing as the Office Christmas Party; that obligatory gathering of bosses and subordinates, cronies and rivals, back-stabbers and back-stabbees. Plus a horde of husbands and wives who spend the entire night planning their escape.

Every year you fantasize about sending an RSVP marked “Thanks, but no thanks.” Then you return to reality and break the news to your spouse. “It’ll be different this time,” you lie. “It’ll be fun.”

“I’ll go to yours, if you’ll go to mine,” your mate responds. “And you have to promise to behave.”

This brings us to the art of gaffe avoidance. After all, who isn’t but one faux pas from the unemployment line? Dodging the pitfalls of office party protocol can be a daunting challenge. But with the help of this agreement, you’ll survive yet another function with your job intact.

AGREEMENT entered into on ____________, by Husband and Wife (collectively referred to as “Couple”).

WHEREAS, Couple’s employers suffer from the delusion that Office Christmas Parties are good for morale;

WHEREAS, Couple, being sane individuals, would prefer to stay home; and

WHEREAS, although Couple can’t prove a connection, everyone who skipped last year’s bash is now unemployed; … ” (Office Party Follies is continued here.)