Do You Have a Photocopier? I Don't Know, Do You?


Have you non-Ohions seen this? It’s an entertaining deposition from that comedy factory the Ohio State Supreme Court. Two Ohio friends of mine, John and Cindy, both journalists, drew this to my attention. It’s 10 pages of questions and non-answers in a deposition in a case about whether the recorder’s office should have to make copies for pesky outsiders who come in and want to make print-outs of their research. Or something. I don’t know. What I do know is that this brought back memories of when I was a reporter and I had to sit through meetings and hearings in which lawyers would ask questions and other guys in suits would answer because they liked to hear the sound of their own voices. And I always suspected they purposely dragged out the questioning, because they loved being the center of attention.



I used to fantasize that if it was my turn to question a witness in a deposition that day, here would have been some smacked heads and someone would have been grounded.



If you want to read the exchange, be my guest. It’s right here. If you don’t, please allow me to summarize and re-create the deposition.



Question: Do you have a photocopier in your office?



Answer: Get off my case! Leave me the hell alone! Why are you tormenting me with these questions? I have a headache. Good day, sir. I said good day, sir.

I made that up. He didn’t say that. But, gosh, it felt good to write that. I’ve been looking for an excuse to write I said good day, sir for ages and even though this was a stretch it did the trick.



Seriously, though, when it starts out, you get the distinct impression that the guy answering the questions is trying to stall by wearing everyone down without having to admit that there’s a photocopier in his office.



Question: Do you have a photocopier in your office?



Answer: When you say "photocopying machine," what do you mean?



. . . couple of pages later . . .



Question: Do you have a photocopier in your office?



I just want to make sure I answer your question correctly.



. . . continuing . . .



Question: Do you have a photocopier in your office?



I'm sorry. I didn't know what that meant. I understand that there are photocopying machines, and there are different types of them just like --



Me/The Mom/ Substitute Lawyer: Alright mister, get in your room. You’re grounded. No Red Bull for a week.

By around page 5, you want to track this guy down like a dog and toilet paper his front yard trees right before a nice, steady rain. Just so you can imagine that when he’s painstakingly picking off the wet pieces of toilet paper, it’s almost as frustrating as listening to his testimony back at the courthouse.



When I was a reporter I used to fantasize about standing up and yelling AGHHHH! Answer! Answer the question! GAHHHH! If I wasn’t fighting off that urge, I would be slipping into a coma. I once fell asleep during a meeting in East Liverpool, Ohio, and I’ll admit that even though my boss at the time is my Facebook friend and might be reading this. Yes, I fell asleep. Everyone at the meeting knew it, too. I set back what little journalistic integrity our little paper had about 20 years that night.



But can you imagine how boring and unproductive that meeting was? I was young and idealistic and needed my job because I was living small paycheck to small paycheck, plus was wasting tons of money on going out every night after work. So if it was so monotonous that the reporter was falling asleep, it was simply too boring to tolerate.



If I was a reporter today, I could record the meeting, transcribe it on my iPad, have it posted online before the last person at the meeting fell asleep, and be a YouTube rock star by deadline. Reporters have it so easy, these days.