Suit Yourself

I guess I’m going to have to sue myself. In this litigious society I have few options left. Instead of understanding and forgiveness (some of the positive motivations that religions have encouraged) our culture is controlled by those parsing out the finest particles of the law, seeking violations, and making somebody else pay for their mistakes. Money makes everything better. It is like the new God. I have to sue someone for this coffee I spilled on myself.

You see, I’m an early riser. I’m not really a coffee addict—I have a cup first thing in the morning, something I’ve been doing since college, and that’s generally it. Still, that first jolt is helpful in the waking process. I shlep around in my Edinburgh University sweatshirt for a pajama top. I like to be reminded of my post-graduate days in Scotland, and I appreciate the irony that my PhD never got me anything but this comfy shirt. This morning, laptop humming on my, well, lap, I baubled my coffee and spilled it all down my Edinburgh sweatshirt. It seared my skin, but I couldn’t jump up because of the laptop and any sudden moves would only slosh more of the hot liquid onto my burning chest. My mind immediately went to Liebeck v. McDonald’s, where the fast food giant was sued for selling hot coffee. I don’t know about you, but I’d almost rather suffer a burn than to drink tepid coffee. But somebody has to be sued, right? The question is: whom? Mr. Coffee for making my morning cup so hot? JSW for making my Edinburgh sweatshirt so absorbent? The unnamed pottery house in England that made the mug that wobbled in my sleepy fingers? Or maybe God for making the morning so early? If there’s anyone to blame, it’s me. Oops—I’ve admitted culpability, so I’ll have to sue myself.


For a society in love with the Bible, we’re far bigger on lawyers than forgiveness. Of course, the Bible is a pretty legalistic book. You can’t get very far in the Pentateuch without figuring that out. Only with the Bible it often isn’t a matter of suing; the stakes are considerably higher. Disrespecting parents can get you the death penalty, and mixing plant and animal fibers can get you expelled. Thumbing through my concordance I don’t see anything about coffee. I do see that I might be unclean for a day, but that’s okay because the Sabbath’s nigh. In any case, I’m too busy dreaming about what I’m going to do with all of that money.

4 thoughts on “Suit Yourself

  1. “…we’re far bigger on lawyers than forgiveness.” Thank you. Many people blame lawyers exclusively; however, if people didn’t hire them, they wouldn’t bring any of these lawsuits.

    I remember the Liebeck case. There’s more to it than meets the eye. It was in New Mexico. Ms. Liebeck went through a drive through and spilled her coffee when she was taking the lid off to add the cream and sugar. It left her with third degree burns on her thighs — no small injury for a little old lady. Especially when the coffee was too hot to safely drink in the first place. Granted, she could have held her cup differently, and it would not have happened. The jury might have seen it that way except for the attitude of McDonalds. Their big city corporate attorney came to the very Old World, comparatively rural Land of Manana and showed a complete indifference to this woman who was scarred for life. He said she wasn’t the first, and that McDonalds was aware that it happened to a few people every year. It was just the cost of doing business. The folks of New Mexico, entirely too familiar with the callousness attitudes of big city elitists toward their own, wanted to raise the cost of doing business for McDonalds. As I recall, the award was greatly reduced on appeal. As a New Mexican in my heart and upbringing, I was sorry they couldn’t teach McDonalds more of a lesson about the worth of their customers.

    Hope you have better luck with your next cup. 🙂


    • Thanks, Piper. It always helps to have an insider’s view. If we didn’t have the will to sue, lawyers would not appear to be such bad guys. Instead what we have is a vicious cycle. All too often legitimate victims end up being the real losers.

      I now drink my coffee from a cup with a lid…


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