I recently went to the funeral for one of my best friend’s father. He was a great man, and my friend and his brother both had wonderful things to say about their father.
The things they said caused me to think about all of the wonderful things that my dad had done for me. I was adopted as a baby, so it’s kind of hard to top that, but my father did that and many other marvelous things for me. He taught me an incredible amount, along with my awesome mom he took care of me, and he supported and encouraged me through all of life’s ups and downs.
With all of that, though, the one thing that I always point out was the single greatest thing he ever did for me occurred one day as he happened to walk into the garage at the right time.
I grew up in Sarasota, Florida. It is very hot and humid there. And we lived in a modest home with a small and not well-ventilated, single-car garage. In that garage, we stored old lawnmowers and cans of gas.
I liked to experiment and find out the truth about things that didn’t seem to make sense to me. And it never made sense to me that “air” could explode.
So one day, I walked into the garage in the summertime and smelled the strong odor of gas fumes. That aroma, in that location, was not unusual, but for some reason, I decided that this day was the day that I would figure out if what I had heard about gas fumes exploding was true. I was about 15 and should have known better by this time – but I didn’t.
I went back inside the house and found some matches and went back into the garage.
I took out a match, held it to the side of the box, and was about to strike it…
Just then, my dad happened to walk into the garage.
He looked at me, looked at the matches, I’m sure smelled the fumes and said – in a remarkably calm voice – “What are you doing?”
I said, “I’m going to strike this match and see what happens.”
He said, calmly, “Don’t do that.” So I didn’t.
Had my dad not been there, and had I not told him the truth, I’m pretty sure that I would have made our house, myself, and maybe part of the neighborhood go “full Bugs Bunny,” as my sainted wife says. Thankfully I didn’t.
So why am I writing about this? Simple: Telling the truth to people that are in a position and have the knowledge to help you can lead to good consequences. Hiding the truth can lead to disaster.
It’s not like my dad snuck up on me. I could hear him coming into the garage, and I could have easily hidden the matches from him and lied to him about what I was doing.
Luckily, I had learned much earlier from him and my mom not to lie, and when he asked, I told him the truth – and he told me the truth.
If you have legal counsel, part of their job is to tell you the truth about when you should do something and when you shouldn’t. Part of their job is to advise you. But that advice will only be correct if you have told them the truth.
If you lie, misrepresent, or conceal the truth from your legal counsel, he or she cannot properly do their job. They cannot stop you from doing things that will hurt you.
We have all been taught to tell the truth. It is never more important than with your lawyer.
If you're ever in doubt about whether you should tell your counsel the absolute truth, just remember how my dad helped me. And remember, if you hide the truth, the whole truth, from your attorney, you, your case, and a significant part of your life could go "full Bugs Bunny."