Perhaps it was being at the memorial service (with 500 others) for a friend’s mother today that made me reflect on my own 53 years.
Or perhaps it was being “un-linked” on LinkedIn a week ago by a federal regulatory official who worried that linking with me “might send the wrong message”–to whom, I am not quite sure.
Or, perhaps it was the angst in the voice of a player in the beef industry today who wanted to invite me to speak at an industry convention to companies I have sued for a living.
Or, perhaps it was being asked by the American Bar Association to speak at a food safety conference, only to be disinvited when the sponsor complained that I had filed a lawsuit against one of its divisions–14 years ago.
In nearly two decades of suing, mostly multi-million dollar companies that have poisoned little kids, I have made few friends. True, many of the companies I have sued, and at times bankrupted, honestly evoke little sympathy (at least from me). However, my strong suspicion is that the CEOs who took shortcuts in food safety still get invited to attend conventions, and may well have many more mourners at their memorials.
Even esteemed “friends” in consumer advocacy, academia or public health are happy to solicit and take money from me, so long as they can mask my involvement–“for appearances, you understand.”
Someone with a smaller ego might feel wounded.
Someone without a sense of purpose might become sidetracked.
Fortunately, my ego is only slightly less secure than my sense of knowing why I do what I do. So, go ahead, “unlink” me, invite me or not, take the donation and use it well and pretend that the money fell from the sky. It really is OK.
It is OK because I love what I do. I am honored to help those who have been stricken by food they thought was safe. I am happy to restore some part of their life, or their child’s life, and to give them peace of mind that the future will be better. That is my primary mission.
I am also proud of the time I’ve spent over the past 20 years, traveling the world explaining to industries I sue “why it is a bad idea to poison your customers,” or to do things right and “put me out of business, please.”
It is sometimes lonely being a lawyer.