I ride to work with my neighbour Barb. We call her Warrior because she fires up the Subaru and drives it to O Fortuna full blast, charging ahead to Tim’s and work at City Hall — traffic and cyclists beware! I love it. This winter we agreed that certain things should be banned: Those long women’s coats with fake fur hoods, tinted in colours that don’t exist in nature; chatty parking attendants; sock toques. I’d add bureaucrats, but she’s one.
The waste, the waste. I’ve spent the past few weeks smiling in meetings, struggling to hold my composure with clients who are desperate to spend left-over budgets before fiscal year-end (March 31). Many of these projects have no inherent value — lots of reports and publications and plans full of words that say nothing, badly. I have this romantic sequence that runs in my head like the scene in Working Girl where Melanie Griffith gets even with the evil boss Sigourney Weaver. The camera pulls away from the table just as the music starts, and I charge out of the room, turning at the door just long enough to declare, “Life’s too short for this shit!” The audience goes wild. Golden Globes rain down.
As this sequence runs, I sit and smile. It helps me to avoid the inevitable calculation of how many seconds it would take my body to plummet to earth from the office window, or what’s going on at that moment in villages along the coast of Sumatra. I stay put because I know that the people in the room know that we are all the same — trapped in a bad system, in a country with its priorities all screwed up. The people on the other side of the conference table don’t enjoy producing reports no one reads any more than I do. Imagine the group hug — and how fast things would change — if we could all just admit this! Storm the Hill!
At the end of the day, Barb and I make friendly with the parking attendant, commenting on the weather, again, and then we ride out into the dusk with the stereo turned up and the windows open (she smokes and I ride with my face like a dog in the breeze — wind chill be damned). We dissipate our stress by sniping brutally at those we pass: “Those pants don’t hide your ass!” “That car won’t compensate for your low self esteem!” “Hey, jogger, you’re going to die anyway!”
We’re thinking of lobbying City Hall for a new winter holiday: Tell the Truth Day. It would be a great way to take a break in February, and it might mean millions of tax dollars could be saved. It will never happen, though. Imagine the meetings, the reports. Honesty. Heck, it works in the movies …
Order honesty stamps. For your tax return. Or your proposal for government contracts.
Not so random quote:
“Thefts never enrich; alms never impoverish; murder will speak out of stone walls. The least admixture of a lie–for example, the taint of vanity, the least attempt to make a good impression, a favorable appearance–will instantly vitiate the effect.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson