As a traveler, I love it when someone comes up to me and asks me for directions when I am in a new place. It makes me feel as though I blend in – and I even did it quite well in Europe. I was asked directions in Paris multiple times, and even more in London. In France, I definitely had to plead ignorance and put the phrase “je ne comprends pas” to use a few times. My A to Zed was my Bible in London, and I often brought it out to show people how to get to tube stations and tourist attractions.
As a student attorney, I’ve felt like a fraud on more than one occassion. I’ve felt as though I didn’t truly belong in front of the judge or trying to make my client see reason. I’ve felt lost and unsure of myself. But once in awhile that feeling fades and I start to feel as though I really can do this whole lawyer thing.
Last week I was waiting in the courthouse for a client to arrive so I could talk with them before their hearing that morning. I’d hung up my coat, so I was standing in the hallway in my suit, reviewing their file out of my padfolio. I was approached first by a gentleman asking where the men’s room is. Not exactly noteworthy or indicative of the notion that I appeared to fit in. However, I then had someone ask me what time the clerk’s office opened. I helped them and told them what they needed to do.
Then I had someone approach me and ask me if I were with the public defender’s office after they watched the exchange with the individual about the clerk’s office. I explained that I was not, and that once the courtrooms opened they should have a seat and wait for someone to call their name.
It’s something small, really. But being approached and asked what to do (or where to go) means that you blend in. It means you at least look like you know what you are doing. It means that you look like you belong wherever it is that you are. Who wouldn’t want that?