I write a lot about driver’s license restoration. The truth is that as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, it’s good business for me to be at the head of the class in terms of writing articles that explain things and help people understand the license appeal process. While my steadfast requirement that a person must truly be sober before I will take his or her case certainly limits the number of potential clients I actually get, my guarantee that I’ll win your case if I take it tends to balance that out. By limiting my clientele to people who have really quit drinking, I reduce my aggravation factor by a ton. Sober people are generally much easier to deal with than those who are still drinking, but there are exceptions. Sober or not, the point here is that difficult people tend to make everything…difficult.
While it is absolutely true that anyone who is still in the throes of a drinking problem is difficult to deal with, particularly in a Michigan driver’s license restoration appeal where proving that sobriety is really the main issue, it is also true that just being sober doesn’t necessarily make interacting with a person easy. Some people are just difficult people, period. In this article, I am going to “vent” about this very issue. Beyond blowing off some steam, perhaps the reader may recognize something about dealing with the difficult people in your life, or even how not to be that difficult person yourself. The bottom line is that in order to win a license appeal, I have to be in control.
Look, we all have bad days. Some people make a living by not letting the day-to-day problems affect their performance. Some of us find that work can often be a way to forget about the outside pressures of life. It can be cathartic. No matter what you do for a living, however, if you deal with people, you are going to run across a few special cases that make you shake your head and wonder why they cannot see that their own attitude causes them so much grief. In my role as a driver’s license reinstatement attorney, I occasionally run into people who want to do everything their way. There is no softer way to put it than to say that if I’m hired as the expert who guarantees his work, then I have to run things.
This can almost be funny, in as much as I’ve handled and won more license appeals than I could ever count, and that my representation comes with a guarantee. Still, some people just seem born to argue. While I understand that the Michigan Secretary of State seems to make the whole license reinstatement process hard, rules are the rules. I don’t make them; I simply know how to navigate them so that, if you’re really sober, I can get your license back. Getting all frustrated and then blurting out, “this is bull$#it” doesn’t change things.
Here’s a real life example: A guy who lives out of state recently emailed me. I could tell he was argumentative just from the language in his contact form, but, being the nice guy that I am (my wife calls me a “sap”), I wrote him back. Of course, my first instinct was right, but anyway, he had done just enough research to know that the Michigan Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) requires at least 3 letters of support to even begin a license appeal. He had also read just enough of my driver’s license restoration articles to know that I require 4 letters, because if 1 of the 3 has any problems and can’t be “counted,” then at least we have another for backup. Besides, I believe that the more we have, the better. Whatever else, you can’t have too much good evidence…
Anyway, that didn’t sit well with Mr. Argumentative. He (predictably) called the whole license restoration (or, in his case, clearance) process a bunch of “bull$#it.” He went on a rant about how corrupt the state is, and went off on just about everything, including the DAAD’s requirement of at least 3 letters and the fact that I require at least 4. He proceeded to tell me that he’d file his appeal with just 2 letters…
Obviously, he didn’t become my client. And as much as I guarantee a win in any case I take, I can also guarantee that his approach will result in a denial.
When I go to the doctor, I am given advice about certain things. I used to be a heavy-duty weightlifter (I still lift now, just not as heavily), but a cardiac injury required me to do a complete turnabout in how I exercise. I think I know certain things, but like everyone else, I find the internet always there to provide just enough information about pretty much anything to make me think they know what I’m talking about. I’m human, and I can feel that way, just like anyone else. Yet as much as I might think I know what I’m talking about when it comes to my medical care, I realize that I am not the expert. My doctor (cardiologist) is. He deals with this stuff everyday. My case is the first and only case of this type that I’ve ever been involved in, but it is one of countless similar cases he has handled in his many years..
The same goes for a license appeal. No matter who you are, your case is the only one you’ve ever “handled.” I get worried enough when someone gets involved with a lawyer who just “does” driver’s license restoration cases here and there because I know that it takes a focused concentration in this area of the law, along with a lot of experience, just to begin to understand the framework of winning a license appeal, much less the “million little rules” that govern the process. However, at least a licensed attorney has (or should have) some idea about evidentiary standards, admissibility of evidence, weight and credibility and the like to take a half-educated shot at a license case. A non-lawyer, by contrast, is just taking a shot in the dark. The difficulty arises when such a person thinks he or she knows it all…
This amounts to a really polite way of saying that I have no desire to tangle with a “know it all” kind of client. There’s a decent chance that, whatever you do for a living, you’ve had to deal with an amateur expert in your line of work who seems mistaken at just about every turn. And even if the amateur expert is a real amateur expert and is half right (meaning also half wrong) about some things, he or she is still the kind of person who makes interaction difficult, and usually at every step of the way. To be clear, I am not talking about having questions and wanting to understand things. The person who has questions is a pleasure to deal with; the person who wants to argue is the one I want to avoid. I simply don’t have time to waste debunking someone’s misunderstandings about how things work, and some people just seem to go off on a mission to learn just enough to get it all wrong.
Time must be used intelligently, not wasted. It takes me 3 hours at my first meeting with a new client to prepare him or her to have the substance abuse evaluation completed. Beyond the time spent getting ready for it, I make sure my client is evaluated by one of the handful of evaluators that I use. I have this down to a near-science, and know how to prepare my client for an evaluation completed by a top-notch counselor, and then how to integrate that evaluation into a winning case. It should not surprise the reader to learn how a person who really does something in the real world for a living (and this could be anything from airline pilot, dentist, plumber to surgeon) does it differently than how it is described in books or articles, or on websites.
The license appeal process is tough because it’s designed to be tough. The state knows that most people with a drinking problem don’t get better. The rule governing license restorations is worded “The hearing office shall NOT issue a license…” (emphasis added). You may not like this, and in any given case it may seem unfair, but it is what it is, and you’re either the kind of person who has the determination to do what needs to be done, or just have a pity-party and yell about how “unfair” things are.
If I seem a little impatient, maybe I am. Most of the people with whom I deal are very responsive to the information I provide. The truth is, many of the people who become my clients are people who have tried to win a license appeal before and lost. They want the kind of focused, specialized help that I offer. I work very hard at what I do, and I appreciate being appreciated. I think, however, that I may have exhausted my lifetime supply of patience for complainers and whiners and difficult people who somehow expect me to defend the rules that have been established by the Secretary of State and are followed by the Driver Assessment and Appeal Division. Like I said, I don’t make the rules, I just navigate them.
I think it was the comedian D.H. Hughley who said that one of the biggest frustrations of life is having to deal with people who feel a need to make things harder than they need to be. I know that, at times, the whole Secretary of State system can feel like it’s that way, but it’s not. It’s just a bureaucracy, like any other. What makes it more difficult than it has to be is being unwilling to do what needs to be done, and just complaining about it. While these are habits often identified with people who are still in the thick of an alcohol problem, there are plenty of people who, even sober, are just difficult. Sobriety makes most things better, but it doesn’t cure everything.
So what’s the lesson here? I don’t know. Maybe this is just a way for me to get this off my chest, and hope some difficult person reads it and thinks, “Wow, that’s me; maybe I should stop whining.” Okay, I admit that me complaining about it probably won’t make it stop, but still, by writing about it, I have at least made my point, and perhaps strengthened my resolve to waste less of my time with such people. I suffer from a major case of “nice guy” disease. It’s far easier for me to write this way than it is to talk this way. Maybe the next time I get an email from an argumentative “know-it-all” I can send this article back to him or her in the hopes that he or she realizes that being difficult make things difficult.
Anyway, the larger takeaway here is that the license appeal process is hard enough as it is; let’s not make it any harder. Let’s adopt the “can-do” attitude and get it done. At the end of the day, who would rather argue and walk, rather than drive?
I feel better now. How about you?