It’s hard not to think about turkeys this time of year. This is especially true around our office, where we have had a wild turkey living in and around our parking lot for the past several months. He’s become such a fixture around here that he’s been given an affectionate name: Bubbles. I’m not sure where that name comes from, except perhaps that our staff is either very friendly (which they are) or that’s their way of honoring the “no one curses around Jennifer” rule and so they refer to the tiny green blobs they have to walk around on their way into our office as “bubbles” and the name stuck. Whatever its derivation, over the past several months we have all grown attached to Bubbles and learned a thing or two about wild turkeys along the way.
We now know, for instance, that wild turkeys can in fact fly.
Bubbles can often be spotted high among the trees that line our parking lot. We learned that seeing a wild turkey like Bubbles was not a unique occurrence in Greeley. Our fair city is home to a flock of wild turkeys who can often be seen gathering around the Poudre River Trail in West Greeley. Last year, a flock of wild turkeys held up traffic on Highway 85 on the east side of town. Apparently, wild turkeys are a thing, like Texas, that you just don’t mess with.
We don’t know if the rest of the wild turkeys that call Greeley home are as entertaining as Bubbles, but we have learned from Bubbles not to think of all turkeys as a part of the local school play or our Thanksgiving dinners. Bubbles has taught us that wild turkeys have personality.
They apparently like to hang out on top of cars, in the backs of pickup trucks, and when the mood strikes, will play “chicken” with the people coming in and out of our office. We’ve watched Bubbles hide behind bushes, jump fences, and sit quietly watching his own reflection in our glass entry doors. Each day, we’ve all had an encounter with Bubbles, and wondered as Thanksgiving grew closer whether Bubbles would live to see it.
I’m glad to report he did. He was seen relaxing high up in a tree outside of Fred’s office just yesterday afternoon.
If you had told me last year that one of the things I’d be thankful for this year was to see a wild turkey after Thanksgiving, I would have laughed at you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for a whole host of things this year: my family, especially my brother and legal assistant Mike who turns 30 today (Happy Birthday Little Brother!), my friends (both of you), my business partner and mentor Fred L. Otis, our great staff Leigh, Pam, Candace, Mike, and Nate, and our new colleagues Tim and Cindy. I’m thankful for old mining roads in the San Juan Mountains, that the Avalanche have won 19 games, that Eli Manning finally remembered how to throw a touchdown to his own receiver and thus revived my fantasy football team (the Ghost Busters), and for new episodes of Homeland. But this year, I was also thankful to see a wild turkey survive Thanksgiving. And for what that wild turkey taught me.
You see, before Bubbles, turkeys to me were things we ate on Thanksgiving, and the drivers who cut me off on my way to court. Wild Turkey was something to enjoy in the company of good friends, not dodge as you walk to your car when you leave work. (Although it should be noted that not every tan colored liquid in my glass at the end of the work day is Wild Turkey…more often than not I prefer a simple Diet Snapple.)
These encounters with Bubbles over the past several months has helped put things in perspective for me. Bubbles reminded me to check my perceptions at the door and to not judge something or someone based on what I knew about it previously. Such a change in perception can be an invaluable tool in a litigator’s toolbox, whether used to reevaluate a complex business dispute or to find a better, more compelling way to tell the client’s story in an appellate brief. Like most creative personalities, I find inspiration hits me in the strangest places and when I least expect it. I first discovered my creative side had a part to play in my complex litigation practice a few years ago when I was scouring an old bookstore in Amarillo, Texas, worrying about how I was going to get a witness I was about to depose to give me the information I needed when it hit me as I was skimming a new poetry book how many times my legal career had given me an opportunity to rely on my creative side to get the right results: the better closing argument, the creative cross-examination, the simple story that tied it all together, the off-beat strategy that might throw a deponent expecting a typical, organized attorney off just enough to get to the truth. That was a defining moment for me because it led me to embrace my creative side in my legal practice, and better results and a happier, more productive and efficient litigation practice followed.
It is often ironic where the idea that becomes the crux of a case or that will form the theme of the case will come from, but it is usually from an unexpected source: like an encounter with a wild turkey in the parking lot of your office.