Many years ago I briefly worked as a case manager for a legal referral service in Allentown, Pennsylvania. My job was to listen to people's legal troubles and align them with an affordable attorney.
One day, I got a call from a client -- let's call him Phil -- who had been trying, with no luck, to find an attorney with experience with "monkey cases." And he wasn't talking about Clarence Darrow and the Scopes Monkey Trial.
Here's more or less how the conversation went:
Me: You want a lawyer with monkey experience?
Me: Um. Let's start from the beginning.
Phil: It's about my pet baboon.
Phil: Yes, baboon. His name is Ricky.
Me: Got it, Ricky's a baboon.
Me: Say, where do you buy a baboon in Allentown?
Phil: I bought him in Texas. At a monkey show. He was on sale, and baboons are pretty cheap anyway, because they're hard to train.
Me. Go on.
Phil: So Ricky's a good monkey. The neighborhood kids love him -- he does backflips in my front yard. He's pretty well-behaved as long as you don't touch his stuff.
Me: Got it. Don't touch the baboon's stuff.
Phil: So me and my buddies were drinking beer watching the game. Ricky had a beer or two --
Me: The baboon was drinking?
Phil: Yeah but just a beer or two, anyway, my friend Hubcap decided to take Ricky's toy basketball, and I said Hubcap -- you know he hates it when you touch his stuff, so back off. But Hubcap was pretty drunk and wanted to play with Ricky so he tried to grab the ball and all hell broke loose.
Me: What happened?
Phil: Ricky went berserk and jumped on Hubcap and bit him in the ass -- really sunk his fangs right in there and wouldn't let go. Have you ever seen a baboon's fangs?
Me: Um, pictures --
Phil: They're huge and sharp and you don't want them chomping into you, and I jumped in and somehow pried Ricky away and shooed him into his cage. My buddies and I insisted that we get Hubcap to the ER right quick, because he was bleeding pretty bad, but Hubcap said nah, just gimme a towel, I'll be fine. He was pretty soused at that point, so probably not feeling the pain.
Me: Yikes, is he okay?
Phil: No, he's not okay. Nobody's okay. He went home, slept it off, and his butt got infected real bad. He finally went to the hospital and they had to amputate his butt.
Me: Wait what, amputate his --
Phil: Butt. But just one cheek, so. Now he's suing me for the hospital bill and emotional distress and says Animal Control is going to put Ricky down, and I told him not to mess with Ricky and I offered to take him to the hospital and he refused and now I've lost a friend and I'm going to lose my baboon and my money and I need a lawyer. Can you help?
Once I was convinced this was not a prank call from my man Tannenbaum, I felt so bad for this fellow. At that stage of my life, I hadn't experienced a lot of loss, so I could only imagine the trifecta of losing a monkey, a friend, and serious coin in one fell swoop. And his friend -- no one expects to lose half their butt to a discount monkey. And who can blame the baboon -- he just wanted to be left alone.
It took me awhile to find a lawyer who would help (or at least not hang up on me), but I eventually did. I have no idea what happened to Phil, Ricky, and Hubcap. I would like to think Hubcap called off the lawsuit, that his insurance paid for the best prosthetic butt cheek ever, that Phil and Ricky made amends, and that Ricky is still entertaining the neighborhood kids and is maybe a bit better about sharing his things. Win, win, win. Win.
But that's probably not what happened. I sure do wish I had known about mediation back then. Also, I love the name Hubcap.