Mediation Vignette: Willie Nelson And His World Of Pick Up Trucks

Another in a series of vignettes, culled from mediations conducted by the author. Here, Willie Nelson and his world of pick up trucks intersects a mediation.

The parties are down the hall,
in separate rooms
and it is almost nine o:clock
but I really don’t want to get started.
I would rather sit here
by myself
and listen to
Willie Nelson
singing softly.
He’s not expecting anything;
at least not from me.

Waiting in the other rooms
with their clients.
Willie sounds like he has had his fill
of lawyers and courts and the IRS
and we probably agree about
two out of three.

They’ll lament the public’s low
opinion of their profession
while, in front of their clients,
they accuse their counterparts
of lying.
Clients, who hear the complaints
and accusations,
don’t seem to draw fine distinctions
between the accused and accusers.

Willie is singing about
another time,
about honest men
and women
and hard work
and pick up trucks
and we’re reminded
now and then
that it could all be otherwise.

Like that case last month
with the county seat lawyer
from down on the river.
He didn’t have a pick up truck,
but he had a gentle seriousness and
he made his client’s case
with grace and good humor
and gravitas
and a sound argument,
made forcibly
but at no one’s
personal expense.

So I hope
there are a couple of those
good lawyers
here today
And so I guess I’m ready to join these parties together,
And to mix them up
in one room,
in front of facts
of their own making

and try to be a
for something better
than what stands now.,

Names and details in these vignettes have been changed or altered to protect and preserve confidentiality and privilege.


John R. Van Winkle

John R Van Winkle is a full-time mediator from Indianapolis Indiana. He is a former Chair of the American Bar Association’s Section of Dispute Resolution and the author of “Mediation; A Path Back for the Lost Lawyer” MORE >

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