Franz Kafka, author of The Metamorphosis, was also a lawyer.
One morning when the cockroach woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin—a lawyer. He lay on his pajama-clad back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see that his belly, formerly brown and domed and divided by arches into stiff sections, was now flabby and white, like the underbelly of a trout. The bedding was hardly able to cover it, and he had so little muscle tone he seemed ready to slide off any moment.
His many legs were now reduced to two pitifully thin appendages, with spindly calves and a furry line of demarcation where the hair ended and white ankles began, the follicles eradicated by the Gold Toe™ socks the members of his guild wore to work every day.
“What’s happened to me?” he thought. It wasn’t a dream. His room, a proper cockroach room in a Roach Motel, lay peacefully between its four familiar walls. A collection of crumbs lay spread out in one corner, and above them hung a picture of his mother, who had been squashed by pair of Florsheim™ wingtips the week before.
The cockroach looked out the end of the motel at the countertop outside. He thought of the day ahead, how he would have to read and revise text that would be applied, in screaming letters twenty-four points high, to the underside of a mop bucket. “CAUTION,” it would say; “STICKING YOUR HEAD IN A BUCKET FILLED WITH LIQUID FOR EXTENDED PERIODS OF TIME CAN CAUSE DEATH OR SEVERE INJURY, INCLUDING BRAIN DAMAGE.” It made him feel quite sad that some people were so stupid that they would misuse a bucket, hurt themselves, then be forced to hire a lawyer to get the settlement they deserved. It made him even sadder that his job was to protect other people who would be sued by the stupid people who put their heads in the buckets.
“How about if I sleep a little bit longer and forget all this nonsense,” he thought, but that was something he was unable to do because he felt compelled to get up and go to work, and so he couldn’t lay around the house until the lights went out, then feast on cake crumbs and Cool Ranch Doritos™ he’d find along the baseboard.
“Oh, God,” he thought, “What a strenuous career it is that I’ve chosen! Arguing all day over money, day in and day out. Doing business such as this is much more disagreeable than public relations, or event planning, or marketing, where one persuades consumers to buy things they do not need!”
On top of that there was the curse of partners meetings, when each cockroach in his turn must chirp loudly about his last deal or big case that he won, each tale containing the most ludicrous embellishments, all in an effort to outshine the others, to appear bigger than the cockroach he really was. There were the business lunches, with bad and irregular food, contact with indifferent and artificial people to persuade them to hire you, none of whom you can ever get to know or become friendly with. ”It can all go to Hell!” he said aloud. He was startled by the sound of his voice, which had only chirped before.
He slid back into his former position. “Getting up early all the time and going to work,” he thought, “it makes you stupid. You sharpen your mind by narrowing it.” Was it Edmund Burke who said that? He couldn’t recall; after all, he’d been a cockroach when he went to sleep the night before, not a hideous and disgusting insect and a member in good standing of the highest court in his state of domicile. Whatever “domicile” meant.
“Here’s your pumpkin spice latte–don’t come back soon!”
The clients, on the other hand, lived lives of luxury. While he would sit at his desk all summer long, they would call from the beach or their second homes to order him to write out a contract for them, these gentlemen who made so much money and then complained about his bills!
I ought to just try that sometime, he thought to himself; just try ordering someone around for a change. Not my wife, of course, and not my department head. Maybe—I don’t know—the barista downstairs at Starbucks. “Hey,” I’d say, “Can you pour out a little more sticky ‘Classic Syrup’ on the counter for me, instead of all the crappy third-world music collections and the self-glorifying CEO autobiography?”
Anybody more important than her, he’d get stomped right there on the spot. But who knows, he thought, maybe that would be the best thing for him. If he didn’t have his wife and kids to think about he’d have given notice a long time ago. He’d have gone up to the boss and told him just what he thought, tell him everything–”Let him know just what I feel!” he said to himself. “He’d fall right off his desk!
It’s a funny sort of business to be sitting up there at your desk, talking down at your subordinates like they’re insects. Well, there’s still some hope, he thought; once he got the money together to pay off his student loans–another five or six years he supposed–that’s what he would do. That’s when he’d make the big change.
First of all, though, he had to get up because his train left at five. For another day under the fluorescent lights, tapping away at a computer. It would have been easier yesterday, when he was still a cockroach.
Before his metamorphosis, he had six limbs, and could type 180 words a minute with four of them.