Courage at Twilight: Defending the Little Guy

Johnson & Johnson executives tended to use Dad as their personal attorney for their legal troubles. He settled one executive’s divorce.  Another asked Dad to get him acquitted from a mandatory-suspension speeding ticket.  Dad quickly got the lay of the night court land, and announced to the tired judge that his client wished to plead guilty, without trial, to speeding one mile per hour below the mandatory suspension speed.  The judge readily agreed, but the executive was furious at the guilty plea, until realizing that Dad had saved his driver license and only a fine was due.  Another executive had employed a maid for many years, who by this time was retired and widowed, living in a run-down project in New Jersey.  She opened her power bill one day to find an invoice for several tens of thousands of dollars.  She did not know what to do, so did nothing, and the power company shut off her electricity, with winter coming fast.  Her former boss asked Dad to see what he could do about the situation.  Dad discovered, upon investigation, that all of the building’s tenants had connected their power lines to the woman’s meter.  The entire building’s electrical usage was being billed to the poor woman.  When the power company shut off her power, the whole building went dark, and cold.  Dad wrote to the power company, summarized the situation, and asked them to forgive the bill.  At first the company refused: the woman’s meter showed that she had used that much power, so the bill had to be paid.    And they would not restore power until the entire bill was paid.  Dad wrote again to the power company, this time explaining the situation in detail, including the woman’s age and frailty, her poverty, the prospect of her facing winter without electricity, how the other tenants had stolen electricity, etc.  He told the company that their posture over the situation, which was none of the woman’s making, would surely result in her untimely death.  In exchange for forgiving the bill, Dad offered to have the woman pay $1 per month toward the excessive power bill for as long as she lived there.  The power company accepted her offer, restored her power, and corrected her meter situation.  Soon after, Dad helped his new friend move to a retirement community, where she lived happily with her friends for the rest of her days.  I am proud of Dad for standing up for the little person against the corporate bully, and making a difference for the one.

Photo by Ralph (Ravi) Kayden on Unsplash

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