Friday, March 15, 2013

How the World Works

It works like this.  The land line in my office rings about twice a year.  One of them was Wednesday afternoon.  Assuming it to be a wrong number I for some reason nonetheless picked it up and received a greeting from a chap who was actually looking for me.  He was a reporter type, from a respectable newspaper.   Covering a big-dollar bankruptcy case, he had stumbled on a device that offended his sense of decency and  good order (I guess he found my name from the law school web page).  They can't do that, can they?--he asked, in a tone of grievance. Well, yes, actually, the chances are pretty good that I can. I know he was disappointed but it was all very civil and professional and we parted friends. 

Next morning while doing the breakfast surf, I idly popped over to Google and searched my name together with the name of his newspaper and the single word "bankruptcy."  Bam, there I was third or fourth item, right after the ad for cheapo bankruptcy services.  And there was the story and there was a quote that I recognized--except--uh oh.  I had said "if X, then Y" (subjunctive).  Somehow he'd left off the "if;"  it came out "X, then Y," in a resounding declarative.

Oh what the hell.  What do I care about a one liner in a newspaper read by nobody that I know. But precisely because it was easy, I popped over to the original story and sure enough, there's a comment trailer.  So I posted a quick two sentences gently suggesting that I had been misunderstood.

Next comes the part that would be old stuff to the grandchildren, but for which I was not prepared.  My next stop was my daily look-in at Facebook where--hey, wait, here is the story and my comment.  

Say, what? I admit I was a bit irritated.   Not that there was anything inherently wrong with all this--after all, there was the correction, front and center.  I suppose just irritated that the commissars in the Facebook politburo had alienated my work product quite so high-handedly.

I killed off the comment and defaulted back to my Email screen.  And hey--here's a message from the reporter saying sorry, he'd missed the "if"--and that he would tell his editor.   Half an hour later he sent another email saying the web story had been corrected (I never troubled to notice whether there is/was a dead tree version).

Two hours later, here's another email--this one from our law school director of self-promotion, itemizing all those of us whose names had appeared in public that week (full disclosure, I self-promotingly had sent him an email about the story, although I bet he would have picked it up in some kind of search engine anyway).  And another half an hour, here's another email, this from the dean congratulating me for getting my name in the news (without, I guess, any mention of underage barnyard animals).

How the world works.  Such is the glamorous life of the busy law professor.

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