Facing the Music

So what can five dollars get you?

At the right fast food place, it can get you a cheeseburger, fries, and maybe a drink.

It can get you just over a gallon of gas.

It can get you several candy bars.

It can get you a fantastic bowl of ice cream at several Bay Area high-end ice cream shops.

And, if you happen to find yourself in Escalon, California on the second Wednesday of any given month, five dollars can get you an admission ticket to the Escalon Community Center.

Why, you may ask, would anybody want to pay five dollars to gain entrance to the Escalon Community Center on the second Wednesday of any given month?

Because the Good Time Accordion Club holds its regular monthly meeting on the second Wednesday of every month at 7:00 p.m. at the Escalon Community Center, 1055 Escalon Avenue, Escalon, California. (Website address http://www.goodtimeaccordionclub.org)

So why would anybody want to drive all the way over to Escalon to attend the regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Good Time Accordion Club?

Because after the initial club business has been conducted, the club hosts about two hours of the most joyful, rollicking accordion music you could ever hope to hear.

I’ve been playing the accordion for nearly  40 years.  But the only person I’ve ever heard play was myself – and a certain deceased television personality who has several resorts named after him (website address https://welkresorts.com/san-diego/)

On a recent Wednesday evening, I made my way with my favorite date of nearly 30 years over to the monthly meeting of the Good Time Accordion Club.  There we listened to a world class accordion player, who had no less than 3 microphones trained on his accordion.  He sat down, I had high expectations – and I was not disappointed.  He began the evening by playing The Blue Danube waltz by Johann Strauss.  This number is sometimes referred to as one of the most popular classical numbers ever written.  I’d never heard anything like it on the accordion.  The accordion is sometimes referred to as a “one man band” and this professional accordion player referred to it as a “Pipe Organ in your lap.”  And it truly was.

The number started slow, and as it went along it built in tempo, complexity, and intensity.  The performance was exhilarating.  As the artist got underway, I thought to myself “I could learn this music.  I could play this piece, just like he’s playing it.  But it would take me some time to learn it.”

I’m self employed, so if I don’t work, there’s no income.  So I sometimes think of activities in the context of how much income I’d have to give up to do something else. I know how to play the accordion and the piano, and I know how much time it takes to learn new music.  As this artist got underway, I thought “You know, I could do this, but it would cost me $10,000 in time.”  As he continued, I thought “No, better make that $50,000.”  As the music became more complex, I thought “No – better make that $100,000.” Eventually I thought to myself “You know, I think I’d rather just pay $5 and listen to him play it.”

And that’s what I did.

So what does playing an accordion have to do with being a lawyer?  The answer is opportunity cost.  I could learn to play The Blue Danube waltz as well as this professional played it – but it would take me something like a year of full time work to do it.  It’s considerably more cost efficient for me to pay $5 and enjoy the benefits of his thousands of hours of practice.

The same is true for legal work.  Most legal training consists of reading, writing, thinking, speaking and analyzing – and these are activities that many of us do all day long for much of our lives.  So sometimes it’s tempting for people to want to save costs by doing their own legal work.  But the amount of  time, effort, study and experience necessary to do it well – or to do it correctly – can be staggering.  Many times its just plain simpler, easier, faster, cheaper, and better to let somebody else do it who has made a lifetime study of it.

Copyright 2017 ROBERT B. JACOBS