Sailing with a cargo’s worth of language

Flip through your life and think of phrases that have stuck with you. Everyone has a locker’s worth of sentences you’ll never shake whether they’re a string of encouraging words or critical commentary. Like the contents of a disregarded lazarette, it’s all jumbled together with the murmurs of a doe-eyed sweetheart layered atop the squint-eyed echoes of an angry boss. This is special language separated from life’s detritus and frozen in time.

Practicing law makes you a good listener and these phrases are collected in heaps. There’s the federal judge who accused me many years ago of “hiding something in the corn crib.” It was a phrase I hadn’t heard before and one I still don’t understand. Another federal judge (may he rest in peace) accused me of “not being prepared” for a discovery conference. Really? Although I’d engaged in whatever preparation was necessary, that comment still burns. Then there are the countless attorneys who tried in vain to get me off the scent during depositions with allegations such as “this line of questioning is a waste of time” or “if you keep asking about this topic, I’m calling the judge.” (“Go for it” was my usual response because judges don’t really enjoy receiving calls from attorneys about deposition squabbles.) 

How about you? Shoot me a phrase or two from your line of work. Tell me what some captain of first mate said, share the complement of a pilot that still rings clear, or what have you.

Underway and making way. 


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About the author

John K. Fulweiler

John K. Fulweiler is a licensed mariner and experienced admiralty attorney. He represents individuals and companies throughout the East and Gulf Coasts and has recently taken command of his own maritime law firm. He enjoys navigating the choppy waters of the maritime law, but readily admits to missing life on the water. He can be reached at . His website is

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