I have heard the story so many times before but I will hear it again and I will hear it again because it's important to the client that I do so. I know how it begins, and I know how it ends but it doesn't matter and it's the client's time now, so I sit and I wait and I listen as intently as I can even though I want to do anything but that.
The client was a fashion designer that fell upon hard times when her husband lost his job and one credit card led to another and then debt swallowed them, which precipitated her now asking for mercy in the face of shame and financial ruin. Clutching her wrists as if she wants to be released from her very skin for even being where she is. "Never in a million years" is the expression you can read on her face without saying a word.
The client was a doctor who attempted to keep up a lifestyle that no longer belonged to him but that he could not let go. Deep inside, to him, this is a blip. The watches still look just as appealing and the cars still bring the promise to fill the emptiness they once did. He must do this but he's not even really doing this, is he? He's fine. Everything is fine. People do this. He wants you to level with him like the fellow professional he is. He has been kicked out of the club but he cannot bring himself to stop showing up at the door, night after night. Cognitive dissonance.
And then there are the patients with medical debts. Less shame here. More pride. These are my favorite clients. They stare mortality in the face and so the onus of filing and asking the Court for relief no longer shakes them in the way it would their neighbor. They've faced harder and this is an errand. They're breathing and they're alive and they have things they need to do and children they need to care for because what would they do otherwise? Good for them.
Throughout the hundreds of cases I've filed, the one constant has been chance. Pure, intolerant, inconsiderate chance. The job loss. The career change. The "too old for this industry" that caught them by surprise. The tumor or the MS or the daughter who had special needs. Life.
This career can be absolutely abysmal at times. But there are worse things. Being compensated (handsomely) to listen and help is a gift.