Ramona, just 35 years old, is a successful lawyer. She’s a Head of Legal & Compliance at the Actus Laws, a 21st century most famous law firm in United States. Someone working there would be an equivalent to have a “Harvard” or “MIT” stamp on your resumé in the lawyers’ universe.
She started her career as an intern at one of the most renowned law firms in Seattle where the owners noticed her early talent, a talent that quickly took her to New York in the most famous law firm in the United States. Top one law firm in the last 15 years.
In a predominantly masculine environment, Ramona without losing her charm and femininity, demonstrated that having a photographic memory combined with an exceptional ability to express perfectly ideas and thoughts are gender-independent differentials. Courage and persistence complete her profile. Needless to say, she’s always dressed up with styles imported from Europe where her mom lives.
She is five days away from what will be her biggest victory. A five-year clash between her company and a former employee. The case took on unexpected proportions and could create jurisprudence leading to an avalanche of new lawsuits.
The headquarters demanded that Ramona personally handle the case now in the High Court. She’s super well-connected and will manage to obtain information that will help to reverse the outcome of the cause. People says: lawyers don’t lie, they just omit the full truth. It doesn’t matter if the client is at fault, he or she must be defended at all costs. The important thing is to win the cause. Find loopholes in the laws. Those who are conscious shouldn’t choose this career because if they want to continue sleeping without regrets, they will have to ignore many of the warnings given by the conscience!
Ramona wakes up at five in the morning, in fact she couldn’t sleep properly. She had a nightmare where she is in court, but crying all the time while the judge appears to be a giant and everyone around is laughing. When choosing clothes of the day, she realizes that can’t find a skirt or pants that looks good. All are loose. She smiles! After all, she lost weight. Ramona arrives at the office and, reviewing the process, remembers the various occasions she talked to the former employee at company events and chats in the cafe. Inwardly, she understands his side, but there is no room for good feelings in the legal world. Apply the law or the loophole it gives! To make this Monday even more ‘blue’, she receives the call from the owner of a legal office where she worked inviting her to lunch, but she politely replies that she is no longer in the mood to go out to eat with bosses, much less ex-bosses.
The soundtrack for this Monday could have been this: How Bizarre!
Ramona wakes up starving. Run to the kitchen and devour four slices of bread with white cheese, a big Snickers chocolate bar, two bananas with granola and a large glass of milk with Ovomaltine, after all, she reasons:
– I’m losing weight! I can eat anything!
Now, looking back in the mirror, she realizes that one eyebrow is much smaller than the other, it seems that someone even rubbed half of it. Horrified, she attributes it to stress and simply uses an eyebrow pencil to fix it. There is no time now. After winning the case everything will be possible. At the office he participates in meetings with the head office. They signal that they fully trust her and that the CEO would like to see her in the near future as a VP in the USA or Europe. Something disturbed her. The matrix showed evidence that supports the former employee’s claims, but that will in no way be revealed. Deep down, his conscience sounded that alarm that all consciences sound at times, some people hear, others don’t.
Microsoft Outlook warns that it’s time to go for a walk with Luli, a beautiful Yorkie she got from her ex-husband. There won’t be time today neither be possible to ask Fernando to do that, after all, they are no longer dating, it seems that he tired of always being on the bench waiting to be called when there is a vacancy in the agenda.
The alarm goes off once, twice, three and so many times until it stops. Ramona continues to sleep. Nine o’clock. Ten o’clock. Noon. Some knock on the door. Dinorah, the girl who does the weekly cleaning, opens the door and she’s surprised to see Ramona in a deep sleep.
– Dona Ramona! If I had known that you’d be off, I wouldn’t have come today, sorry!
Ramona wakes up in amazement and asks what day it is.
– It’s Wednesday, Dona Ramona. Are you off today?
Ramona looks at her cell phone with despair: almost 1 pm, dozens of missed calls, voice messages. She asks Dinorah to make coffee. When she gets up then realizes that the bed is all wet. As if someone had thrown a bucket of water. When she brushes her hair , she notices that many strands fall, abnormally. Decides to go to a doctor. She doesn’t find any clothes that fits. Shoes don’t fit, all loose. Put on a sports outfit and sneakers. At the hospital, the best in USA, she goes through countless exams. The doctor is unable to make an exact diagnosis and triggers a medical board.
Hours later, Ramona hears from the doctor:
– We don’t have a prognosis yet. It seems that excessive stress is causing a major disturbance in your body, as if it were reconstituting itself. I recommend you go home and just rest. Disconnect from everything and rest, rest, rest and sleep! Some results will come out in 48 hours. Until then, stay home and rest, it’s an order!. If you can’t sleep, take a pill like this one I’m prescribing to you.
Wednesday night. Ramona responds to emails and voice messages. She makes a Skype meeting with the head office explaining that she spent the day at the hospital. They ask her to rest and on Thursday they will send a team to work with her at home. Also, a private doctor will visit her. It’s 2 am and Ramona takes a pill and crash out.
Ramona wakes up and runs to the mirror. It seems that everything is the same. Some relief.
Eight o’clock sharp, the team arrives at the apartment and begins work. Revisions. Essay. They do an X-ray of the judge who is in charge of the case. The private doctor arrives and does some exams. Ramona’s condition seems stable, but he recommends her to take a sick leave immediately. Ramona explains that this is ‘impossible’ because tomorrow will be the big day! After, only after, she promises: “ – I`ll take 30 days of vacation! It’s something I never did in my entire career”.
Once again, the doctor insists, but in vain.
The remote shift ends earlier. Everyone agrees that Ramona is very well prepared and super equipped with the information that will decide the case in favor of the company.
At first time in many years, she ended a shift at 5 pm. Thus, she decides get dinner at The Famiglia, her favorite restaurant, however at this time, totally alone. She still can’t find any clothes and shoes that fit, but she improvises and fix the missing eyebrows then keep walking to the restaurant.
On the way, she meets some friends by chance! They don’t see each other for years! Possibly because on a daily basis she is always eating junk food and in a hurry. Ramona invites them to join, but they had another appointment. Maybe totally alone might be better for meditate in life. Tonight, she deserves something special. At the restaurant, Ramona orders her favorite dish and a bottle of Don Melchor.
Ramona receives a call from her father with whom she talks almost every day by phone, receives some final advice for tomorrow’s case and a guarantee that everything will end well. His father said that all her health’s problems will go away as soon as this case is closed and all the stressful work will be worth it. Next, her mother calls from Paris to see how things are doing and to confirm she’ll be back in the next week to catch up and deliver the latest fashion trends from ‘The City of Light’ – La Ville Lumière!
For a few minutes, Ramona has a momentary lapse of lucidity: if you eat and drink, talk to loved ones, laugh and enjoy the good things that life offers even the simplest ones that don’t require a lot of money are those that make life worthwhile , she wonders:
– What am I doing here alone? Not even the doctors know what I have. My marriage was shipwrecked. I thought I would find someone to complete me, but now I see: I have become a bossy and teasing person. I always said that ‘nobody belongs to anyone’, but today, I see that I’d very much like to belong to someone! I have no children and age is beginning to weigh. I spend a good part of my weekends sleeping. What do I really want from life? What legacy will I leave if today I simply disappear from the face of the Earth?
Now isn’t the time to think about this! Priorities! Tomorrow is the big day! The future will be bright!
The big day! Ramona was unable to sleep well. She took two pills, but sleep still didn’t come. All the symptoms of that week came back and more intense. She only had a cup of espresso as a breakfast. Ramona called a friend who is a professional makeup artist because she woke up unrecognizable. After three hours of tidying up here and there, she’s ‘ready’. As no clothes no longer fit her, the day before Ramona asked her personal stylist to buy a new set, three sizes smaller. It fits perfect today. She’s feeling very weak and taking some medications prescribed yesterday by the doctor. After all, just more today! Ahead she can see vacations! With this won case there will be the deserved recognition with the long-awaited relocation to the Europe, possibly Germany. The time to enjoy the other good things in life is right there! Just this case! Ramona reasons with herself:
– I need to be strong! Use all my energies! Our evidence and arguments will reverse the decision of the previous instances. The judge of the case, by coincidence, studied with my father! There is no way something can go wrong! I haven’t prayed in a while and I think it’s a good time to do that again. Maybe even make a promise!
While at the airport, due to one of those coincidences in life, Ramona meets the former co-worker who is going to the same city where the trial will take place. They greet each other and she’s impressed by the peace that seems to reflect on his face. He can’t imagine how sick Ramona is, however sure of victory! He embarks. She’s on another flight. The company reserved some seats in business class just for her. The rest of the team went to the destination city earlier. Ramona checks in and once inside the aircraft, she chooses the last seat so no one will be in front of her talking or disturbing. Until she reaches the court, be totally concentrated in these final hours is crucial!
Ramona receives a Whatsapp from her doctor stating that she needs to return to the hospital as soon as possible. They have the final results. She eagerly calls the doctor. He wants to talk to her at the clinic. Doctor just mentions that her syndrome is rare and medicine knows almost nothing about treatments. They know that it isn’t contagious and that the condition stabilizes under total rest, without stress and activities that release endorphins from well-being. Ramona explains that she’s already on a flight and as soon as she returns then will go straight to the hospital. The disagreed doctor screams over the phone:
– RAMONA! I gave clear guidelines that you must rest! Arriving at the airport, go to a hotel and simply rest! We don’t know how this syndrome evolves. Your life is at stake!
She simply hangs up the phone saying the plane will take off.
During the flight Ramona wonders: wouldn’t it have been better from the beginning that an agreement was made? Or was it enough to pay the amount due and end of story? The value wouldn’t even tickle the company. It isn’t longer simply blind and impartial justice at stake, but the corporate pride. A company is a legal entity, it has no life of its own. People gives life to a company. Companies are composed by its owners, partners, employees, and customers. Corporate pride is nothing else than a reflection of the people who make it up.
Ramona wonders when she started to betray herself. When she started to violate the principles which she promised to defend. Ramona got lost among a lot of thoughts and realized she had actually been lost in the journey of life. A feeling of emptiness took over and anguish made tears fall. Tears that were mixed with an unceasing sweat as if she was burning with fever! Without any strengths to even press the emergency button, she simply goes to a knock out.
Everyone is waiting for the hearing to start. Ramona’s team is worried about why she hasn’t arrived in court yet. They call, but only voicemail. Whatsapp is offline. They contact the airline that confirms Ramona’s boarding and that the aircraft has already landed.
The hearing begins. The clerk calls by the case number then he announces:
– 10:10 am hearing. Case: Joseph Crown versus Actus Laws.
The judge asks the defense where the company’s lawyer is. A representative of the team tries to win a few minutes while another colleague calls the airline that confirms that all passengers already did check-out except Ramona, but they haven’t found her on the aircraft. They don’t provide any additional information.
Without being able to give any plausible explanation to the judge, the hearing is initiated. Since the company’s defense lawyer isn’t present, the case is dismissed and it’s considered as a win for the former employee.
Ramona’s team immediately runs to the airport. In contact with the airline they hear the following report from the person in charge of inspecting the aircraft after landing:
– We have a checklist of all items that are checked. We are used to finding everything on an aircraft after a flight. A general cleaning and a more detailed, seat by seat, is done when some liquid has been spilled on a seat. Also, if we find any stain in the seats, windows, floor or any inner lining of the airplane. A heavy cleaning of the bathrooms is also done.
In the last business class seat where Ramona Goldstein checked the boarding pass, a tablet was found turned on. It’s to the side of a Fendi bag and a gooey stain on the seat. A trail of stains that led to the door of one of the aircraft’s toilets. The bathroom was locked from inside. We knocked several times, but no answer. Upon entering we found pieces of clothing, shoes and accessories huddled in front of the toilet and the same types of stains that were on the armchair. The impression was that if anyone was there it simply disappeared or melted as if it had jumped into the toilet.
– The most bizarre, however, was the audio message that is on the cell phone. Among unintelligible sounds and grunts, you can only identify this part: “… I promise to practice law with dignity … observe ethics … defend … human rights …”
– Well, all the items are in our central office being examined. After release, they will be sent to family members. The fact is that something like this has never been recorded in modern aviation, either here or in any other country. A single case was of a Soviet astronaut who, due to intense exposure to cosmic rays, literally melted two weeks after he returned to Earth.
Weeks later, Joseph Crown, the former employee, sent a card with flowers to family members and his condolences for Ramona’s disappearance. He said that always admired her professionalism as well her dedication to the job. The Actus Laws company sent an email to the parents regretting what happened and that they are making efforts to get a final word on the matter.
New lawsuits began to flood the Actus Laws company based on jurisprudence; the company hired two new lawyers for the post left by Ramona. Ultimately, the defeat in that case meant practically nothing in terms of financial losses, nor will it mean the next. Only corporate pride was hurt and left a reputation stain, however they believe on a old saying: “Time heals everything.”
LIFE MUST GO ON
Ramona left a rich bank account, a Yorkie puppy, a duplex in the best neighborhood of New York, two imported cars in the garage, Fendi bags, 120 pairs of shoes (some never used), a project for a son she never had, other dreams which will never be fulfilled, and a stain on an airplane seat which has already been replaced, after all, life must go on.
Also, an intriguing question was left: “What end did Ramona take…”
A real history or an urban legend? The answer may lie in how each of us is writing what is indelible in our daily lives, as the greatest man who ever lived taught:
‘There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.’
‘So never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties. Each day has enough of its own troubles.’
Daily anxieties are a part of life. But do not increase today’s anxieties by adding tomorrow’s to them. Try to live one day at a time.
We must work to live and not live to work.