By Randall Grantham
Growing up in Lutz, we had neighbors with children around the ages of my siblings and me. The daughter and I were fast friends. Her brother, two grades ahead of me, was also my friend, although when he got older he didn’t want to hang out with “little kids.”
One day, when I was in the seventh grade, we watched an educational movie with his ninth-grade class. I forgot the movie, but I remember very well the events leading up to it.
We sat together getting ready for the show, when a female classmate of mine walked by and asked if I had a piece of gum. I didn’t and told her so, but my older friend made a dirty, crude remark to me under his breath and I made the mistake of writing it in a note I passed to her.
You can guess what came next. She gave it to the teacher, who gave it to the principal, who promptly called me into the office and called my parents. I was disciplined, of course, but you may be wondering why I am telling you this story.
Because that day, I learned an important lesson that golf icon Tiger Woods apparently hasn’t: Never put anything in writing that you wouldn’t want to share with the world. That’s the advice the principal gave me, almost verbatim, after administering my punishment and explaining why (Something about girls’ reputations, blah, blah, blah).
Woods may not have passed a dirty note to a classmate, but he left behind a trail of evidence in the form of text messages and voicemails that will cost him a small — make that large — fortune.
In addition to potentially losing endorsement deals and speakers’ money, I read that he’s renegotiating his pre-nuptial agreement to more than double his wife’s payout and reduce the time until it vests. Plus, he’s reportedly forking over $5 million to keep her around in the short run.
It’s hard enough for a superstar like him to sneak around, what with all the surveillance cameras and paparazzi, but he’s not even thinking when he’s texting one girlfriend at 2 a.m. and calling another to leave a voicemail asking her to help him cover his tracks. And doesn’t he realize that his surreptitious messages are worth money? Legalized blackmail is what it looks like.
In today’s digital world, everything that is filmed, recorded, or tapped out on a keyboard is saved forever. Contrary to what many people think, our e-mails and text messages are not stored in some database after they are sent. They go to the database FIRST, where they may or may not be purged, according to company policy.
So, while we may think of digital workflow as being fleeting and ephemeral, it is, in many ways, much more enduring than yesterday’s dirty note written with good, old-fashioned pencil and paper.
Randall C. Grantham is a lifelong resident of Lutz who practices law from his offices on Dale Mabry Highway. He can be reached at . Copyright 2009 RCG