I had a matter fixed for hearing yesterday for a nice lady with an injury case. She was quite nervous and so she’d brought three members of her family to the office for the conference pre-hearing. The client and her family are from India originally.
The hearing was to proceed by Zoom, and so we set the client up on a computer in a spare office. As I got everything ready, I was mainly thinking about the half-dozen other things I needed to do so the hearing would proceed smoothly. As I often do when I’m thinking about something else, I was chattering away rather thoughtlessly to avoid an awkward silence. One of the things I had to do was enter the computer login password, which is in part the word “Blackjack”. Without thinking about it I blathered away “so the password is ‘blackjack’ so clearly whoever set it up was either a keen gambler or a fan of the 1960s Country Party, the leader of the party then being called John “Black Jack” McEwen”
The client asked why he was called “Black Jack” and I explained “well, I understand he had dark hair and had quite a dark complexion and …”. It was at this point that I remembered who I was talking to and the fraught ethnic times we’re in and thought in a panic “Oh Lord, I hope they don’t think I was having a go at them!”. I felt my face getting red and I blithered on by saying “and, I understand he favoured dark suits, and he was Prime Minister for a bit too, and … Oh good, we’ve got Zoom up and running!”.
I don’t think the client and her husband were paying much attention to it all, but from the grin on her son’s face he was clearly enjoying watching me trying to dig my way out of the hole I’d dug myself into!
Comic relief can be useful in stressful times; apparently yesterday it was my turn to provide it.
Anyway, this got me to thinking about things in your job you didn’t expect when you went into it (or in my case, came back to it). Something I didn’t expect on returning to the law was how often I’d find myself drinking cold tea and coffee.
I should explain.
I love what I do, and because of that, I get a bit focussed on it, especially if it’s a challenging file. I also drink a lot of tea through the day. This is a poor combination. At least once a morning and a couple of times each afternoon I go and make myself a mug of extra-strong Tetley and then come back to my desk. As soon as I do I find myself caught up by the current legal problem that I need to unpick. Meanwhile, my mug sits there thus…
By the time I remember it, the tea is feeling unloved and (like any things that feel unloved) it’s having trouble staying excited about its job, which is to be hot and bracing.
I’m sure this isn’t a rare problem. My friend Allie, for instance, at Living My Full Life, recently posted about how much she’s enjoying a line of seasonal teas. She has a newborn baby, and I’m guessing from experience that she drinks a lot of it fairly lukewarm. Anyway, it seemed to me that my experience now contrasts radically with my not-too-distant work as a factory hand or gardener or labourer when the tea break/smoko was close to sacred and was rarely-if-ever disturbed. I suppose it’s because the five minutes of peace and quiet for a hot cup of tea or coffee made a welcome break from sun and dust and power tools and physical labour.
What do you find about your current work that you didn’t expect?