Jan 25, 2009

The little voice inside my head

So, that little lawyer-shaped devil inside my head has been talking to me again. Loud. The first time was last Sunday, as I spent a couple hours giving a friend legal advice on her business plan, and found myself getting more excited than I had been in ages. And it didn't seem to matter that I didn't know what on earth I was talking about (that's right folks, just because your friend/relative/random person you meet at a party has a legal degree, it doesn't mean he or she necessarily knows anything about the laws relating to divorce/intellectual property in the Middle East/fishing licences in Vanuatu/fill in the blank...)

A few days later, as I started working on my second project since I started life at BM, I realized my thoughts had inexplicably turned away from the proper alignment of boxes on my powerpoint slide to pontificate loudly on the inherent and possibly dangerous legal ambiguity in a document my client was about to sign. Fortunately, the client was not in the room, but the rest of my team was looking daggers at me (and possibly contemplating having me committed to a mental institution... or a due diligence cupboard).

And then there's the fact that I seem to be the only person in my immediate vicinity who thought the most interesting thing in the news this week was that Obama took the oath of office for a second time. But I could just see in my mind the myriad of legal arguments I could make, if asked, for both sides of the fascinating question of whether or not he had been acting ultra vires in his first day in office. (And right now you're thinking that just the fact that I'm using the term ultra vires in a sentence should be enough to have me committed...)

So what should I do about this little devil on my shoulder, whispering sweet nothings in my ear? Ignore it? Consider a switch back into law? Have my hearing checked?

Jan 20, 2009

A question of trust

So one evening I walked out of the office, late at night, when I was accosted by a mild-mannered, slightly befuddled looking middle-aged man. After satisfying himself that I could speak English, he proceeded to explain that he was from Switzerland, on holiday in Paris with his wife, and that his credit card had just gotten gobbled up by the ATM. Anxious to get back to his hotel (especially given the late hour, the cold, and the rain), he found himself in a bit of a pickle, given that he had no cash to pay for a taxi. You see where this is going. Anyway, after receiving numerous assurances of good faith from this man, I gave him my contact details and 20 euros that he promised to return the very next day.

This was two months ago. I have not heard from him since.

Now why do I tell you this story? Simply because it is symptomatic of a broader inner struggle I have been having within myself. Many people will tell you that, over the past few years, I have become someone with "trust issues". These same people have also managed to convince me that being able to trust my fellow man (woman/ organisation/ feral cat) is the key to finding personal happiness.

Taking this precious advice on board, I have resolved to be more trusting, putting a little faith in people where before I would have built fortresses of cynicism. And this, in all aspects of my life: from the man in the street to the more recurring characters in the Res Ipsa play, from my professional life to my personal life. So far, this little experiment has in most cases resulted in debacle, à la Swiss taxi guy.

So now, on this day where millions are putting their trust in the new incoming American president, setting aside disbelief and years of previously dashed hopes, I ask: what now? Is saying "I trust you not to steal my twenty euros", "I trust you not to make my job a nightmare", "I trust you not to break my heart", more or less delusional than saying "I trust you to solve all of the world's problems"? Should I soldier on, trusting that one day all this trust will be repaid in happiness, or is it time for the safe, tried-and-tested protectionist era to return?