Saturday, December 24

43 Million Sheep

In a country of only 3.5 million people and 43 million sheep, confidentiality is a big deal here in New Zealand.

That represents 12 sheep for every person.

We all know each other or, if we don't, usually have only one degree of separation between us that is easily bridged.

So I was not surprised when, in a small town mediation, the family patriarch told me that if I was selected to mediate this 'unfortunate affair' privacy of the long running inheritance dispute was paramount to him.

I eventually got the gig and as I sat in the hotel lobby staring at a blank page that was to soon become my opening and contemplating my last mediation of the year, I looked up with a self contented air... all was in its place and I had got the vibe during the intake that the family was ready for a dose of common sense to break out.

I even had a special Christmas opening planned where I would say something along the lines that... 'not only were we mediating on a Friday* BUT it was the last Friday before Christmas'... wow!...I hardly needed to break a sweat.

*(my resolution rate for Friday mediations is traditionally way up on my Monday mediations, why is that?)

Yes well, forget all that because when I looked up I also saw the 42" plasma screen behind reception scrolling through the day's events like the end credits of King Kong.

'Welcome the Taiwan Trade Delegation - Hobson Room'
'Welcome the IBM Pacific HR Xmas Party - Freyburg Room'
'Welcome the Bill Smith Family Will Mediation - Discovery Room'

Say What!?@!

I am ashamed to say that this mediator's thoughts turned not to the blatant breach of one of the fundamental tenets of the process, but rather very rapidly to whether my office had arranged the venue and a split second later to the resilience of the out clause of my mediation contract.

After I enquired at reception as to the whereabouts of the duty manager I was reminded by the receptionist that one of the local lawyers involved in the mediation was a friend of hers and had personally arranged the room just last week through his brother-in-law, who owned the place and who had seen to it we got mates rates.

Whew, as much as one degree?

Merry Christmas.

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