God, I hate the human race, and I don’t much like You right now, either…

by Bernard Brandt

In a recent Facebook entry, I received a lecture, er, a posting from a young Social Justice Warrior (or SJW) about how there was institutional racism and white privilege rampant in society, and that we should all do something to counter it. I was in a foul mood then, which got progressively worse later, but my response was, in effect, to say that the alternative was to admit one’s inner racist, and go from there. As a matter of fact, in my Facebook response to that posting, I admitted my inner racism: Yes, I am a racist: I cordially hate the human race as presently constituted. And I posted the above YouTube link, which I consider to be a lot more realistic than the maunderings of most SJWs.

Let me tell you about my week, and why I got to this point in my life. I won’t even talk about how my second wife is dying this time, just like it happened to my first wife twenty two years ago. Or at least, not much.

On Monday, I got a call from my nephew John, asking for my help with a friend of his. John’s a good guy, and a smart one, and so I went to see his friend. I came to a cracker-box apartment complex, and into a small room there. I met M., a woman probably in her 50s, who was in a hospital bed even more mechanized than my wife Beth’s. And I heard her story: how she had suffered a stroke which had totally disabled her, and how she had received no timely care for it while in the ER and the hospital; how she had had her belongings stolen by her former roommate; and how her present roommate had ‘forgotten’ to pay her portion of the rent for the last three months, and ‘forgotten’ to tell her about that lack of payment…

The long and the short of it was that it was far worse than even my nephew John had known. M. was looking at a complaint for Unlawful Detainer, which had been served on her the last Friday. I asked if I could read through the complaint, and she let me. I will not write of the details, as there is something called confidentiality, even among those who are not lawyers. I went home then, but I got her phone number, and asked if I could call her later.

After I got home, I looked into things. It is my shame to have to admit this, but not only do I have a law degree, but I’ve had thirty years of experience in legal research and writing. In my own defense, however, I will have to say that I never descended to the ultimate indignity and disgrace of becoming a lawyer. But I decided to look into things. Basically, I found that if M. did not file a response by Wednesday, what would happen would be that the attorney for the landlord would file a default, and quite likely, M. would be thrown out on the street by the following Wednesday.

And so, the next day, I called M., and asked if I could come by and read the complaint again. In the meantime, I had gone over to the court in which the matter had been referred, to the alleged ‘self-help’ center, and had asked some questions of the UD information clerk as to the requirements of filing a response, including whether M. could get any extensions of time. After I got the information, I went over to visit M. When I got there, I found that she was calling the court to see whether she could get an extension of time in which to answer. I could have told her that the answer was ‘no’, but thought it best to be quiet, and to let her finish her call.

When she was done, and had heard the bad news: no extensions possible, I told her that I had managed to get the forms that she would need, including the answer. The filing fee was $225.00, and I knew that she would not be able to afford that, and so I found the forms for requesting a waiver from the filing fees. She was unable to move from her house or to drive, and so I got the forms to request additional help. But the forms had to be filed by 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday. I told her that what I could do, I would do.

I went home, after visiting my wife, and fairly soon afterwards went to bed. On Wednesday morning, I spent the morning filling out the forms by hand in ink, and tried using the pdfs of the Judicial Council forms to enter the information, and to save it, so that I could take it to a place to get the forms printed and copied. Unfortunately, while in past years those forms were saveable, they were no longer so.

For the next few hours, what I experienced was nothing less than a nightmare.

As I do not have a printer, I needed to find some place that had one. I first tried calling a friend to whom I had given, I would estimate, thousands of dollars worth of free legal help. No response. I tried calling him three different times. Again, no response. I waited at home until 12:30 p.m., and then decided to go to the courthouse, in a vain attempt to get help there.

At the old Long Beach Courthouse, there had been both a law library and a self help center. In either place I could have made use of computers and printers to get things done. But, at the cost of millions of dollars, the old Long Beach courthouse had been upgraded to some huge glass enclosed monstrosity. One could have hoped that the self help center and the law library had also been upgraded.

But no. I got to the self help center at 1:15 p.m., only to find that it would not open until 1:30. I waited, and was first in line, but when it opened, and I asked to use the computers and printers to help, I was palmed off on the sidelines, while the attendant would ‘see’ if I could use them. At 1:45, I was finally told that, ‘no, those computers are only for workshops’, but perhaps you could go to the law library to do your work there.’ Out of patience with these bureaucratic arseholes, I went to the ‘law library’. Instead of an array of books, it was two computer terminals, with no law librarian there. I asked the nearby attendant whether I could use a terminal to print out some forms, and she said ‘Yes’. Little did I know…

I spent a half hour finding the right pdf and entering the text which I hoped would print. There was even a ‘create pdf’ function which I had hoped would be a backup if I could not print the text. But the function did not work. And when I attempted to print the answer, that also failed. When I asked the attendant, she said, “The computers have never been connected to the printer.” I asked, “Why didn’t you tell me that to begin with?” Her response was “You never asked.” I tried to tell her that her failure to give effective help would quite likely mean that a totally disabled person would be evicted next week, and she said that quite frankly, she didn’t care. And I finally lost patience and said, THAT’S WHY I HATE THE HUMAN RACE! YOU STUPID SWINE CARE FOR NOTHING BUT YOURSELVES!

It was now 2:00 p.m., and the only other opportunity was to go to a FedEx ten miles away. I got there at 2:30 p.m., and after waiting until those ahead of me had used the terminals, I was able to start work at 2:40 p.m. By 3:10, I had completed the forms, and had arrived at M’s place at 3:30 to get the signatures necessary. I only had to drive another ten miles on slow roads to get to the court, and at 3:55, got into the Unlawful Detainer clerks office, before the doors closed. And the papers were finally filed.

Needless to say, I did not charge for any of my work. I paid to use the FedEx, and I even paid the postage to make sure that the lawyer who filed the action, and the other party, who was the woman whose stupid failure to pay the rent or to inform M. of the fact that she had not paid the rent and caused this stupid mess, got their required legal notice. Tomorrow, i will file the proof of service. I wish that I could say that I’m okay with this, but I’ve opened myself up to a criminal and civil charge of practicing law without a license. After all, no good deed goes unpunished.

Look guys, I’m not trying to pat myself on the back to say that I’m somehow great for having done this. I’m not. This is what we’re SUPPOSED to do. Why don’t any of you do anything like this? Why don’t you help your neighbor? Or the guy or gal down the block? Or more to the point, why did all of those professional ass-hats, whose job it was to help others, bail on the task?

I’m presently rewarding myself with a number of cans of Guinness, which is perhaps cheaper than going to the local pub and drinking draft. No one else will reward me. A friend whom I’ve known for more years than I care to remember had recently asked me, “Bernie, you are a person of good heart and good mind. Why have you been carrying on so?” To my friend, I would have to say, “It is because of experiences such as this that I have raged so.”

And, for the Social Justice Warriors out there, who seem to want to help mankind in the abstract, but not bother to help people next to them, I have but two things to say to them. The first is this quatrain from Kipling:

The toad beneath the harrow knows
Exactly where each tooth-point goes.
The butterfly upon the road
Preaches contentment to that toad.

And the second, to end in my beginning, is this offering from Randy Newman: