Tall Thought 36: Sunday / by Jennifer Wisniewski

 It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Mark

Early summer 2012 015.JPG

During his inaugural speech, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said "there is nothing to fear, but fear itself"—but I bet he never received a revocation notice from the Illinois Department of Revenue. Summer is normally slow for Bread & Wine. Our customer is more inclined to eat in their backyard, or they're on vacation. However—this year, summer was a never-ending'ly slow summer, due to the lovable Cubbies. After a string of quiet nights, we fell behind on paying our state taxes—and were summoned to a hearing to plead our case.

As I walked to the train to meet Lisa to appear before court, I couldn’t remember the last time I was so afraid. My mind couldn't stop replaying the worst case scenario: in about three hours, we might have to explain to everyone that we're no longer open for business (even though everyone reassured me it wouldn’t be the case.) As I walked up to the L platform with wobbly legs and a dry mouth, I locked eyes with Lisa and realized she’d been playing the same scenario in her head.

We enter the facility and are greeted by the departments attorney. Lisa and I state who we are and her first rushed question is: “what’s the story?" We attempt to explain our fiscal hardship, and are rudely and abruptly interrupted each time. Then she says (after not listening to a word) that she is going to request revocation—today. We are told to take a seat and will be called in soon. That moment went much worse than expected. 

As we play the waiting game, Mark Kelly (Lisa’s husband, an attorney) shows up to see how things are going. By the look on our faces, he knew we weren't doing well. He politely asked if we would mind if he represented us, before we go up to the judge. For the first time all morning: we exhaled.

In about five minutes, he gathered all the necessary information and kindly told the clerk that he was our attorney. Before we knew it, we're all in a very bare, beige, Orwellian like - tiny room. 

Mark started to speak on our behalf. I watched him in complete awe as he made our case to the judge. "Your Honor", he states, “These two women are Mothers who started a neighborhood restaurant and are working hard to catch up after a very slow summer. They've been in business over 5 years and have every intent to pay. We are simply asking for some more time to make things right.” While I was listening to him talk, it was hard for me to not become teary. To hear someone fight for you, right in front of you, is moving. What he said—and how he said it—was so articulate and powerful. He also changed the tune of the other attorney, who listened patiently to him and nodded in agreement, stating that “we are not here to close small neighborhood businesses either. We're here to work with them." The hypocrisy almost pushed me out of my chair.

I've never been in front of a judge before this. The only courtroom drama I ever witnessed was on TV. Until that very moment, I had never fully realized how the gift of the power of persuasion could make a positive difference in someone’s life. It’s a nice feeling to believe that there are regular people with super powers, walking among us. As far as I’m concerned, underneath Mark's business suit is a big red “S”. 

Best,

Jen

P.S. - Don't forget to shop Tall Orders Tees