October 10, 2004

I'm too tired for titles

"There is a kind of ache so sweet and charming to the soul that one is willing to prefer this hurt to what people call pleasure."

Choderlos de Laclos, Les Liaisons Dangereuses

I can't remember who said it and I'm too lazy to leaf through the book in search of the line. Can anyone help? Initially I thought it was Valmont, but on reflection it seems more likely the sort of thing that Madame de Tourvel would spout. Sometimes I believe it, but only on rare occasions. Mostly it makes me wonder.

I caught a train to Johnsonville this afternoon, and it reminded me of another time when I'd taken that same train and a biig Samoan construction worker had chatted with me. He asked me if I was a student. (This is very common. I assume that it's because my wardrobe has not yet and is unlikely to ever morph into corporate weekend-wear.) "I work." Politeness demanded elaboration. "In an office." This seemed to satisfy him. Sometimes people react badly when I tell them I'm a lawyer. It's taken me the longest time to be able to own it without feeling a strange mix of defensiveness, embarrassment and the need to justify myself. Hang on - I still feel all those things. And an unusual sensation that I've stepped out of a lift onto the wrong floor.

4 Comments:

Blogger Barry said...

Interesting: when I was a lawyer, I was the same. I remember being on the Isle of Wight, long time ago now, having a huge old piss up with a fellow I met in the hostel, he was an itinerant labourer or something, I can't remember - I do remember that he was not big on work talk. So, after many hours of talking, he finally asked what I did, and I had this idea that it would blow it by saying I was a lawyer. I was glad to be able to say I work for the Council, in housing stuff, helping homeless people.

I find that when I do say I'm a lawyer, I'm generally with people to whom that is of no possible interest, so the convo has to either move onto something very different or it dies. And yet, I'm actually quite proud of the achievement - it took a lot to get there.

12:58 PM  
Blogger Jessie said...

Barry, you say "when I was a lawyer" - are you not anymore?

When I get around to admitting to it, I usually try and mention other things I'm involved in, like the music industry, as if I need to show that I can't be boxed so easily. I've only been doing it six months - but the one thing I'm sure of is that this is no long-term career option.

8:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least you don't have the problem of deciding whether to say 'lawyer', 'accountant' or 'tax consultant' - all of which are as bad as each other. I prefer telling people I am a tax consultant - I like to see the awkward look on their face, and see how fast they change the subject...

Janus

5:16 AM  
Blogger Barry said...

Could be worse, Janus: I had friends who were tax inspectors. They had real trouble explaining themselves in social events.

And, Jess, I guess I am still a lawyer, although I've made the big move to teaching it rather than practicing it. Being a lawyer isn't a bad career, so long as you can find your niche - I only ever found one that really suited, in the job I had in the UK. In the first few months out, though, its going to seem a bit overwhelming and horrible at times. I still have nightmares about timekeeping, think to myself OMG I haven't done a time sheet for a while, then remember it is nearly ten years since I had to!

6:50 AM  

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