A court reporter’s life mostly takes place in some pretty ordinary, sometimes even boring, places, but I had an interesting experience a few years ago while appearing to take a legal deposition…
The deposition was being held at a private Washington, D.C. home, instead of a courtroom or beige conference room. First, let me say that the house was absolutely gorgeous. It was HUGE and elaborately decorated, each room more glamorous than the next, but possibly the highlight of the entire tour for me was going into the basement.
I love antique toys and games. There in the basement was the most amazing collection I think I’ve ever seen outside of a museum. There were antique carnival signs, carousel items, wind-up toys, iron banks, a pinball machine and moving bar lights.
The deposition was held in the enormous formal dining room. I could instantly imagine the beautiful parties and occasions one could host there. I set up at the end of the glass and chrome table, requesting a placemat for my laptop as to not scratch what clearly was a very expensive purchase.
As counsel arrived, they were escorted into the dining room and prepared to conduct the deposition. I sat down and got ready to write on my machine when, all of a sudden, a large, hairy creature pranced into the room and made a beeline under the table, where he promptly planted himself right on my feet. I’m not sure why he (she?) picked me to sidle up against. Maybe he (she?) wanted to be under something and my court reporter steno machine seemed like a good place.
Even though I’ve been a certified court reporter for many years, I had never experienced taking a deposition with a dog on my feet. So when the owner asked if he should move his dog, I probably should have considered all the possibilities – but I didn’t. I like dogs anyway, so I told him it was no problem, the dog wasn’t going to bother me, at all. Little did I know…
About an hour into the testimony, disaster struck. There was a sudden rustling and fluttering at the front door – the mailman had arrived with the day’s mail. Apparently, this was of great concern to the dog, because he immediately leaped up, sending everything flying. And, by “everything” I mean, everything – including my steno machine!
As the machine crashed to the floor, all the attorneys in the room emitted an audible gasp. And, for a moment, my heart sank.
Luckily, my steno machine was not damaged and after I gathered my composure, we completed the deposition. But this time, without the dog.
I’ve learned a lot of things in my many years as a court reporter, but the thing I learned that day is to never let a dog sit under my steno machine!