The séance had ended after the table tipped three times, and the word “u.l.l.i.b.l.e.” had been spelled out on the Ouija board. If only his father had spoken!
He sought out the medium afterwards, and asked if there was any hope of being able to speak to his father. The medium stroked his beard and looked intently at him. He would need special crystal balls, and lots of them. These were use-once-only balls, and it would take many sessions. The medium lived in Maine, but said he could start the work out there, and then return to his client when communication was established. It would cost $6000, the crystal balls being much of that cost. The medium vanished with the plaintiff’s money. Plaintiff fled suit.
Now they were mediating with me in small claims court. Both were quite earnest and serious about this. There was a crate of used crystal balls on my table, although they looked just fine to me. No contact had been made with dad, and the plaintiff was suing at the jurisdictional limit. He had recently been put in touch with his father through another medium for only $600, and so he was feeling ripped-off by the defendant.
Their contract was oral, and the only written materials were some inconclusive email exchanges. The defendant medium was willing to hand over the used crystal balls, but nothing more. The plaintiff wanted his money back plus damages! The medium had wanted the chance to complete the contract. It was a mess of a negotiation.
Help me understand how you will present all this to the judge I asked. Each party had his own completely believed facts. Who would be believed? Gently, I pointed out that mediation offered the hope that they might create their own resolution, bypassing the judge. I surmised that the judge might not have much experience of the afterlife, or in this kind of case. The Plaintiff offered that he had been somewhat gullible, and that knew his father would be disappointed in him. Both parties recognized that the judge was a bit of an unknown. The Defendant came across as rather a smooth operator, and he knew it would not play well.
Offer and counter-offer were batted around. The Plaintiff came down from 100%, and after that we were just discussing by how much. The defendant agreed to include some cash in the deal. Once the parties were off their principled positions, it became a money deal just like any other.
I learned something from this mediation. When I heard about the tipping table and the Ouija board, one corner of my mouth just kept trying to pull me into a broad smile. However, I managed to keep a totally straight face throughout.
I talked about contracts with two people who live in somewhat different worlds to me. I sowed some seeds of uncertainty, but I did not judge them as people. In particular, I did not question the faith of either participant in the occult. I did not wish to embarrass one as a charlatan. The other I did not want to hurt by questioning a belief system, or probing into his relations with a lost parent.
When I touched upon matters of the heart in “the radiant smile,” I was reflecting on the power of mediation to be transformative at a deeper level. Not everyone needs or wants their private lives to be exposed for all to see in a mediation, and some times a mediator can get the job done effectively without being too invasive. I can respect other better-qualified counselors to pick up the pieces thereafter.
The judge approved the agreement, and money changed hands. He had a certain “beam me up Scotty” look when I took this case for mediation, but now the judge believes in miracles!