Yesterday will forever be known as the legal equivalent of a David Brent day and such days should never happen to an innocent trainee solicitor.
Let me set the scene.
Around 10.30am CountryBumpkin asked me to get something from the chemist for her. At exactly 10.35am, I was handed a folded pink post-it-note and I was told not to look at it until I got to the chemist.
Whilst the end result of a pregnancy is a lovely bouncing baby, the process (as I am reluctantly learning) does throw up a number of unpleasant consequences.
Anyway, I happily obliged, as (1) this request appeared to form an integral part of my training contract, (2) it was a chance to get out of the office and (3) I could most probably grab a cheeky latte on the way back.
At the chemist, I opened the note and discovered that I had to ask for some haemorrhoid cream. The horror! Seriously, the horror! I mean, how could the progression of my training contract and indeed my future career as a lawyer come to this?
“I wonder if I could possibly and if it’s not too much trouble, have some haemorrhoid cream,” I asked the pharmacist, in a teeny tiny tentative whisper.
“What, you want some herbal, what,” the pharmacist replied.
“No, not herbal…..haemorrhoid cream,” I snapped.
“Ah, haemorrhoid cream, hold on, let me check,” at which point the pharmacist turned to the assistant-to-the-pharmacist and shouted, “Nora, have we got any bum boil cream in the back. There’s nothing on the shelves.”
And, again, let me set the scene.
Instead of walking into one of those popular and modern chemist chains, you know, the sort of chemist that you’ll find on every high street, I took a chance on a little independent outfit. And, seriously, it was like stepping back in time to the early 1980’s, I kid you not, with the female and pharmaceutical equivalents of Arkwright and Granville behind the counter – both staring, judging and standing between me and the rest of my life.
And, yes, it was out there. The utterly humiliated city bird at the front of queue (yes, that’s me) wishes to purchase some bum boil cream.
Joy, oh, fricken joy!
Thankfully, Nora the pharmaceutical explorer located the above-mentioned unmentionable product swiftly. I then handed over some cash and exited stage left.
When I returned to the office I was met by a frantic StressHead. He was in one of his caffeine-fuelled flaps and he instructed me to take a compromise agreement into meeting room 1 for his client (the in-house lawyer of some large confectionary/gum company) to sign, as he needed a minute to check some point or other with the other side.
Anyway and after discreetly passing the above-mentioned unmentionable item to CountryBumpkin, I collected the compromise agreement, introduced myself to the client (let’s call him GumBall) and settled down for some good old-fashioned chargeable time.
Just before GumBall put his limited edition Mont Blanc fountain pen to paper, however, he asked me if I knew anything about the gum market.
“Not really”, I said, “but I love gum.”
“Oh and what’s a boilerplate clause, when it’s at home,” GumBall pressed.
Stupidly excited by a real client asking me a real question and still in shock from the whole bum boil incident, I said….
“Well, a gum boil clause is when…..I mean, a bum boil….I mean a boilerplate clause is a collection of….
O.M.G. I have done a James Naughtie.
Fortunately, however, and as I rambled on (trying with all of my might to regain some sense of legal dignity) GumBall saw the funny side and valiantly fought back an explosion of laughter, as StressHead re-entered the room.
Suspicious glances were fleetingly exchanged all round, but nothing more was said and GumBall proceeded to sign the agreement.
And as GumBall stood up to leave, he handed me a packet of his company’s new gum – a little gift, if you will, for “keeping him entertained.” His words, not mine. “Excellent work Ms Minx, excellent work.” And again, these are GumBall’s words, not mine.
Oh and StressHead was less than pleased to witness a trainee receiving such positive client feedback. Seriously, it was as if the receipt of such feedback had the potential to completely derail all of StressHead’s carefully laid partnership plans.
Oh and for future reference, I am neither to willingly receive any gifts from clients (it was a pack of gum FFS) or to do/say absolutely anything that will entertain a client more than StressHead.
Finally, and after GumBall was out of earshot, StressHead asked me what I said that was so entertaining. Thinking on my feet, I confessed I had no words. Other than to say…
“Gum’s the word, boss. Gum’s the word.”
* Boilerplate clauses are standard clauses that you find at the end of contracts. They include (but are not limited to) confidentiality, dispute resolution, entire agreement, governing law and jurisdiction, notice, severability, termination and waiver.