Thursday, March 19, 2009

Power of Attorney

Ever barged into a stranger's office and demanded they elucidate? I have - more times than I've been to church. Most often, it's a lightning strike: Call from the parking lot and let the logo do the talking. If eight times out of ten you can't score an instant sit-down, you're not mentioning the logo enough. But Phil Bolton isn't some used carpet salesman. He's Greensboro's top bankruptcy attorney and when he first heard El Ocho wanted to come over and chat, he was probably expecting someone with more product in the hair. He got me instead, a somewhat rumpled father of two, who needs all ten fingers to even spell b-a-n-k-r-u-p-t-c-y.

To Bolton's credit, he never batted an eyelash as I schlepped into his office suite and opened all the blinds. Scene set, it was time to conduct the official television interview ... The second hand of the clock in the corner drowned out all sound as the counselor and the cameraman stared at each other. Fearing I might be billed for the hour, I commenced with my laser-focused inquest...

"Soooo, about this whole bankruptcy thing..."

From there the debriefing began. With the precision of a litigator, Bolton explained the tenants of insolvency, from how to avoid bankruptcy to when to embrace it. Throughout the summation I nodded knowingly, wondering how in the hell I was going to make all this data palatable for the masses. See, most interviews are but one (important) portion of the prerecorded report. For this story, however, the talking head was the sole component. "In Their Own Words," the managers demanded. "No reporter track, no interruptions, no cheesy two-shots." Knowing better than to question why, I huddled with my new attorney friend and pretended I understood everything he said. In the end, this finished piece won't bag me any trophies, but it's unpretentious, fairly informative and 100 percent loophole free.

Now, if you need me - I'll be in my chambers.

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