I just returned from my first out-of-D.C. ethics presentation in more than two years. This, and the necessary preparation for it is why Ethics Alarms has been uncharacteristically devoid of new content for about 24 hours, though the commentariat, as usual, have admirably kept the ethics fires burning.
Before I make some ethics-related observations on features of the trip and the engagement, this: Are there really people out there who are primed to complain that references to Desi Arnaz’s famous catch phrase (as Ricky Riccardo on “I Love Lucy”), “Lucy, you have some ‘splainin’ to do!” are markers of bigotry and racism? They can bite me, because these are the individuals who fit Jacques Brel’s description of “them” is his famous quote, cited before here: “If you leave it up to them, they’ll crochet the world the color of goose shit.”
- In the middle of yesterday, for no discernible reason, my knee suddenly swelled up to twice its usually size and mad it painful to walk, sit, drive or sleep. Nobody could tell during my seminar, where I paced for three hours like nervous jaguar as usual, because I’m a theater guy, and once doesn’t allow little things like illness or pain affect a performance. I’m also my father’s son, and Dad walked, hiked and generally refused to allow the fact that he had a permanently ruined foot (via hand grenade) painfully stuffed into custom made shoes affect his active post-WWII life. he did this for 50 years. I had to do it for three lousy hours.
- The hotel where I had to drive to late, late last night was one with an address nowhere near the street it was supposedly “on,” and GPS and Google directions managed to ignore that fact. The place’s raised sign wasn’t even visible from the street unless a driver had the mysterious premonition that he had to look behind him and up despite being told that he could take the street “straight to your destination.” Saying that my destination was “on” that street, as its address indicated, when it was behind two layers of commercial structures and over 100 yards from the thoroughfare would be like someone living on the cul de sac next to the one where my home resides telling a visitor that they live at my address. I have lost too many hours of my life to such misrepresented addresses. I told the guy at registration that at very least the hotel should a have warning about the problem on its website, especially after he said, when I described my difficulty locating the place, “Oh, yes, guests complain about that all the time!” Oh???? Then why the hell don’t you do something about it?
- My seminar had about ten lawyers present and the rest tuning in via web or Zoom. I began my presentation by praising the hardy souls who I could interact with face-to-face (I gave each off them a free hour of ethics consultation over the next year in gratitude, a$390 value) while telling the rest that remote ethics training for lawyers is about as useful as remote schooling for children, and that as professionals, they needed to be serious about ethics, meaning that they should make the effort to participate in trainings directly. I was told that some of the online participants took umbrage at this.
Guess what my response was…
- None of the lawyers at my seminar were masked; all of the hotel staff were. Typically, I had to ask the hotel personnel to repeat themselves because they appear to be unaware that having a thick piece of cloth over one’s mouth impedes communication. This is “mask incompetence.”
- For the third straight time reaching back years, the hotel was late with my requested wake-up call. This used to never happen. I believe it is part of the increasing service rot infecting American life. “Quiet quitting,” perhaps?