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Attorney’s Hours

We’re closing on the sale of our house August 20. Our agent asked us if we were going to the closing. This question surprised me – I thought we had to be there. We told him that if our presence wasn’t required, we had no urge to spend half a day at an attorney’s office signing paperwork.

This past Monday, the closing attorney called me to ask if we were coming to the closing. I told her the same thing I told our agent: if we don’t have to be there, we won’t go. So she asked when could we go by the office to sign the paperwork. I told her I needed to check with my wife, and I’d call her back.

I called the attorney back Tuesday morning. I told the receptionist on the phone who I was calling, and she asked who I was. I told her.

When the attorney answered the phone, I said, “I’m returning your call from yesterday.”

She asked who I was. Now, why did the receptionist ask for my name if not to give it to the person she’s connecting me with?

I told the attorney my name, and reminded her that she called me yesterday about setting up a time to sign the paperwork for closing on our home.

“OK,” she said, “let me pull up your information.”

I waited a few moments for her to get caught up. Then she said, “OK.”

I waited a few more moments for her to give me more info on choosing a day and time. Then she asked, “Hello? Are you still there?”

“Yes, I’m here,” I answered. Apparently she was waiting for me to tell her something. The closing date, 8/20, is a Thursday, so I offered, “How about Friday? Can we do it on Friday?”

I was thinking Friday, the 21st. She thought I meant Friday the 7th – this coming Friday.

“Oh, that early?” I said. “I figured we’d need to do it near around the closing date.”

“Well, you can,” she said. “But anytime is fine. Whenever is convenient for you.”

This “anytime” thing was a little confusing. Any time that is convenient for me? Really?

“I was thinking,” I said, “Friday, the twenty-first.”

“Oh,” she said with a hint of condescension in her voice, “the closing is on the twentieth. You need to sign the papers by then.” She didn’t say, “Duh!”, but I felt it implied at the end of her sentence. So “anytime” isn’t quite so “any.”

I said, “How about Wednesday, the nineteenth?”

“OK,” she said. “What time?”

I didn’t say, “six o’clock,” which would have been a good time for me. Instead, I asked, “What hours are you open?”

“Nine to five,” she answered.

So this “anytime” concept gets trimmed down even more. Lawyers.

I think, if I leave my office at 4:00, I can be there by 4:45. “How about four forty-five?” I say.

She almost guffawed at that. She did give a slightly exasperated sigh. “Can we do it at three o’clock?” she asked.

So, if I ask for your closing time, then suggest coming in fifteen minutes prior to that, surely I actually can come in two hours earlier? She’s asking me to leave my job almost half a day early so that she can do her job. You know, most service industries set their schedules around their customers’ schedule. When I need milk, I don’t have to take time away from my work to go pick it up from the store. And the grocer ain’t paid $250 an hour.

Here’s an attorney who surely is being paid more than I (probably a multiple of my pay), and she expects me to cut off work early to accommodate her time. Now, I’m fortunate in that I can cut off work early –- I can either make it up later, or take paid time off, or just not worry about it as I’ve surely worked over hours enough in the past that my boss won’t mind (or even know) –- but it’s the principle of the damn thing.

She explains that the attorneys have to schedule things on the hour, so she can’t do 4:45. She says this like she’s teaching a child in how the world works, like it’s obvious to an adult. This woman is just rubbing me the wrong way in this whole telephone conversation.

We settle on 4:00. Fine.

So this whole idea of not having to be at the closing, isn’t really like not having to be there –- we just have the option of being there at another time, before the closing time, within the hours of 9 and 5, on the hour. Customer’s convenience be damned.


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