I am in the business of providing a service, which is protecting men’s rights as fathers and husbands. The humanity factor is crucial in what I do. I have to understand my clients, their wants, needs and motivations so that I may represent them well in court. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and sometimes it’s a painful thing.
Because I am dealing with people’s lives, and frequently the most important relationship in their lives — that with their children — I have to be especially attuned to their real wants. In the fog of war they can lose track of what is most important to them.
I bring to my cases the insight and understanding of nuance, of hidden meanings and motivations. People don’t mean to hide things. It’s the nature of language and thought as an imprecise mechanism. It’s why I’m frequently a therapist as well as a lawyer. I have to uncover the truth of what is driving people so that I can explain to the court.
Language is not precise, and frequently several words can mean similar enough concepts that we use to communicate but with gaps or misunderstandings in place. I’ll use a recent experience at Vidiots as an example.
I love Vidiots. It’s an awesome experience to walk in and realize that there are literally thousands of movies that are available for me to rent and view that I cannot rent anywhere else.
When I walk in to Vidiots, some days it has the wonderful musty smell of an old library, the kind my college had in the basement where the books from the 1600s were kept. (Yes my college was that old!) I used to enjoy going to the lower basement because it felt like I was time traveling in the stacks of old leather-bound books that detailed life and thought over the past 250 years.
The musty smell of yesteryear transports me to a nicer time, a time before instant everything, the threat of nuclear war, and the downgrading of manners and grace. Vidiots lets me go there with the rental of classic silent movies and suddenly I’m living in 1920 America when film was just starting to become a force.
Other times as I wander the stacks I find a movie that I would not have thought of, and I’m so glad that I can just pick it up. There was a time when I was a documentary junkie, and the collection of offbeat documentaries that Vidiots offers has allowed me to learn about everything from the fog of war, to the latest conspiracy theory on our government’s role in 9/11.
I would not have watched either of those movies if I had not picked up the case and read the covers. That is the benefit of tangibility. It is that real connection with things, events and life that is the humanity factor I’ve been writing about. Connection is what adds to our understanding of the world around us, it is what allows humans to understand each other.
The way our minds make connections is why we have reached the top of the food chain. This past weekend I wanted to rent a movie that was supposed to be in the philosophy section of the stacks. One version of the movie was there, but not the version I wanted. Every movie cover at Vidiots has a yellow tag and is coded to what section it belongs in, so the one I wanted would have a tag that reads PHI for philosophy.
The philosophy section is next to spirituality, and the movie that I wanted was a type of movie that could easily be put into that category. Of course, when I searched spirituality, I found the movie I wanted, and it was tagged PHI. Someone made an error — it happens when humans are involved.
While I was searching for my movie, there were three people who were also looking for a movie to watch together. They commented on one where a man decided to try and live by Biblical laws for a year. All four of us had a brief laugh at how impossible that would be. It was a moment of connection, a coming together in a way that doesn’t happen when you use an online service to get your movies.
The interaction between people is what makes life enjoyable. It’s the process that makes the experience. The process isn’t executed with robotic perfection since humans make errors. Luckily we understand that errors happen and in what ways those errors are likely to happen, which helps us fix them.
Video rentals is a service business, just like mine, and even something as basic as finding the movie I want has the imperfect element of humanity in it that makes the experience more enjoyable.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.