“I have an education. I practised law.”

On the bus, around 5:30 p.m. or so. Into reading; don’t look up or around. Start realizing that there is a conversation going on across from me, but that it is basically one person’0s conversation with himself, despite two people sitting side by side. Man in his 70s or so, talking and talking. Young man in his early 20s beside him. No relation. Strangers on the bus. Old man with an expiation trigger.

Sometimes, after a period of silence and limited or no social contact, it seems that one has this ovewhelming desire to talk. Nonstop, in this case; like he’s been in solitary confinement for a few years, and just got out.

Talking about the young New Democratic Party Members of Parliament from Quebec; refers to them as “squirrels”. Knows enough about the parliamentary perqs that he can complain that these young people will have earned a parliamentary pension after serving as little as two terms. Doesn’t mention that the pension may be earned at a young age, but is not payable until the age of 55. It used to be payable immediately upon leaving office. The change being one of the lasting influences of the Reform Party parliamentary opposition, in the 1990s.

Old man talks and talks. The young man says nothing. Smiles, on occasion. Old man apologises on more than one occasion. “I’m old, I talk too much.” Starts quoting Desiderata as a life philosopy; popularized in the 1970s.

Starts talking about the student “strikes” in Quebec. Mentions that he was listening to a French journalist earlier in the day who described the students as being from a generation that did not know the word “no”.

Throughout the conversation with himself, the old seems lucid, well-read and well-mannered. Then he starts to talk about his own education: “I was a student. I practised law for over forty years. I understood authority.”

Looked around. If he had been practising for that long, I would likely know him, at least from the time I was an articling student. Nothing connecting, other than my eyes with the young man beside him. A mix of smirk and grimace.

Too much, with too much curmudgeon, and more from the perspective of getting out a runon of the semi-bitter. In another context, he could have spoken in turn, in dialogue of more than one, and had his opinions listened to with respect. On a hot late afternoon bus, the smirk and grimace said crazy, bad crazy old.

Wisdom of age seems often better reflected through silence, or highly selective expression. Little accomplished through hyperventilating one’s last. Talk little; hope to talk less. They know when you know.


About brucelarochelle

This entry was posted in Ageing, Ottawa Reflections, Politics - Canada - Federal, Politics - Provincial. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “I have an education. I practised law.”

  1. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. “Those who know, do not say.” I think of this when beginning to teach a class, or write an article.

  2. Comment from legal colleague Dan McGuire (reproduced with permission):

    “The glass that holds us together is often fragile.”

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