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The commonest sense is the sense of men asleep, which they express by snoring.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

“Have you heard the one about…?” ZZZZZZZZ

Have you ever nodded, dozed—slept?—through a mediation? Bet at times you felt like it. Most of the mediations I have conducted have some unique and interesting quality to them. They are my inspirations for many of these little dissertations, other than this one of course.

Occasionally, however, I’ll admit to being a reluctant witness to a sleepwalking exercise, when everyone present creeps through the process, with the outcome, more often than not, a foregone conclusion, one that should have foreclosed the proceeding prior to its commencement. And all the jocund efforts of the mediator are to no avail.

“A husband called his wife and, excited, announced to her…” ZZZZZZZZ

Maybe it’s the subject matter of the dispute, giving rise to little emotion or debate. Or the stakes are just not high enough to maintain interest.

“There was a priest, a rabbi and a pastor…” ZZZZZZZZ

Whatever the reason, there are occasions when nothing the mediator does, including a quick soft shoe, has a reviving effect on the participants. If we were in California, maybe a seismic rumble might get their attention, but I’m not even sure of that. A hurricane blowing out a window? Only if the shattering window is close enough to the dozers.

“Like the raccoon said when he stopped making love to the porcupine:…” ZZZZZZZZ

The mediations that rankle me the most are those where one or the other parties have appeared solely in response to the court’s order, has no intention of negotiating a settlement—yet allows the process to proceed ad infisnorem. No skin off the mediator’s neck; he/she is getting paid by the hour. But it still rankles. That’s not why the mediator is there, i.e., to tuck everyone in for the night. The mediator knows, as do the attorneys, the alternatives to a negotiated settlement, and what lies ahead if the parties do not wake up, smell the roses, and get down to the business of resolving the dispute—in a cost-effective manner.

“This guy had just purchased his first pair of bifocals, was walking down the street and got the urge to…” ZZZZZZZZ

Hey, it’s that time of year. Maybe that’s the ticket. Have everyone appear at the mediation in costume, suited to their respective personalities of course. That should liven things up. Now, what would be a suitable costume for this mediator? Please, no suggestions!

Happy Halloween! And please forgive this gentle respite from a topic of more serious nature. I’ll get busy with the latter—as soon as I wake up…


Edward P. Ahrens

Ed Ahrens has been a member of the Florida Bar for over 43 years. He is a certified state and federal court mediator in Tampa, Florida. He is also a freelance writer and former president of National Writers Association, South Florida Chapter. He is the author of the popular book,… MORE >

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