Given the largely unencumbered life I now lead, today was by comparison reminiscent of a normal business day when I was working. Although I hadn’t anything scheduled until 11:30 o’clock this morning, I nonetheless trimmed my customary morning leisure since I thought it possible that my dentist might call for an earlier appointment and I wanted to be ready to go on short notice. As it turned out my dentist will see me three days hence.
Meanwhile we had some banking to do that we were unable to accomplish at the Automatic Teller Machine on the weekend. Our attendance upon the young male teller at Bank of Montreal went smoothly though we hadn’t in our possession the account number we needed for BMO Nesbitt Burns. I subsequently emailed another Bank of Montreal official to ask him to make the necessary transfer based upon his available records (he has done this for us in the past). Of course once we were at the Bank we encountered a long-time acquaintance and as a result became willingly entangled in a protracted conversation. It is one of the casualties of small-town living that one must allow for gossip interruptions. A trip to the post office or liquor store would have triggered the same result.
Our next stop was the dentist. The business of one’s teeth lends itself to diligence and little else. Not long afterwards we were on our way again.
By the time we had accomplished those few small matters it was noon. I proposed that we return home to eat lunch before the hour became too late. We did so accordingly. Shortly after one o’clock we were on the road again, headed to the City to visit my elderly mother. Though I certainly do not begrudge visiting my mother, it has to be owned that the venture consumes in total close to three hours from beginning to end. As usual we stopped at the grocery store on the way home to replenish the larder. And of course the car needed to be washed and the gas tank filled. The entire routine is down to a science but it still takes time.
Upon our return home, aside from having to dust the mats of the car and put the groceries away, there was correspondence in the post to be dealt with. Because so much of what we now get in the mail is related to financial matters, even the most casual perusal requires verification, and that means consulting file records and on-line data. More time. Having to do that stuff really does remind me of my former working days. There was no detail too small to merit cross-checking and confirmation. I long ago learned that nothing can be ignored; every particle of information is both relevant and important. It is equally true that there is no fast way of doing it. How often I have questioned the utility of effectively bogging myself down in endless detail. The alternative – either delegation or acceptance at face value – never appealed to me. It was a gamble I could never bring myself to accept even though on balance it would likely have been fine. Once however one has made the choice to dissect information and actually read it, there is no way around it.
While such plodding application sounds completely tedious, I had learned to fashion the exercise to my advantage. I applied the same level of detail to my own accounting of what I had done. There was certainly no attempt to “cook” the books or embellish the work. In fact so much of what I did commanded such tiny allotments of time that it would have been impossible to distort what I did; almost everything was a minimum of time and record. Naturally the memoranda were given to my clients which meant it was an open book.
The preciseness of the reporting (and the work that I reported) were both satisfying to me but it was incontrovertible that it was pure drudgery. At that microscopic level of investigation and enquiry there was nothing romantic about it, not of course that I sought anything romantic or any other fictional attribute for that matter. But it boiled down to menial work, far less glamorous than the grandfather clock and Persian rugs in the office might otherwise have suggested. It may surprise some to learn that even in the most esoteric atmosphere of law donkey work is no stranger. It is the very application to toil which elevates law to something worthy; otherwise it is mere power politics and bluster with some pretence of assiduity.
Those days of work are now thankfully behind me. I could never return to work of any description. And certainly I could never imagine myself being a Councillor or a politician. The required level of attention to detail in almost any employment is overwhelming (not to mention the commensurate weight of responsibility).
So here I am at the end of the day, basking in the delight of having nothing more to do. The few duties in which I was absorbed today have been accomplished. Even they – as inconsequential as they might have been – were onerous in their own way. I am an old horse worn down by obligation and the smallest revisitation inspires instant memories of the labour and exactitude once involved. It was that trepidation if nothing else which led me to avoid re-engagement in the work force. I simply could not withstand the escalation of the tempo. Though I would prefer to quip that I have retired with my book and my bottle, I can only attest that literature is now my endeavour of choice. Lulled by mellow jazz, I now peacefully cast my eyes towards the setting sun and the languid fields in the distance. My idle contemplation is confined to what has come and what has gone; and, if prompted by sufficient initiative, I may ponder what tomorrow may bring.