Just fresh from a spate of research, having spent several minutes peeling names from a computer data base at the Superior Court of Justice, in Toronto. Got there at nine, thinking I had a fair chunk of work before me rummaging about in estates.
That is, I was searching for certain people who had died over the last several months in Ontario. This is one of the sidelined research tasks required of this girl obituary writer, and I generally enjoy the monotony of it.
Plus it’s nice to be out of my office, even if I sometimes have to struggle with rush hour streetcars to make it here, cursing along with the best of them and plugged in to escape the drone. Wearing a “Relax” button twisted onto my ankle-length down coat.
So. I got to the building and rode up to the 7th floor, said good morning to the security guard, and headed along the corridor a few feet to the one computer terminal they provide for this research.
I had just set up when along comes this man, fortyish, in a hurry and in a scowl. Being a nice person, I smiled at him and here’s how our conversation went, before he screamed at me and rushed through the glass doors leaving me humiliated, bewildered, and thinking about the return of mass murderers in public space.
Me: “Do you have much research to do? I have quite a bit.”
Him: “I have quite a bit too.”
Me: “How long will your ‘quite a bit’ take?”
Him: “Twenty minutes. How long will you take?”
Me: “Probably about an hour.”
Him: “An hour! This is a goddamned public computer!”
Me: “Yes, I know. And I’m a public. But I’m offering to share it with you.”
Him: Blah blah blah bitch fuck cunt. Heads raised by gentle lurkers and men in blue.
Me: “Stop insulting me! I offered to share it with you!”
Him: More bitch fuck cunt and he storms out of the office offering these parting words: “Fuck you. Use your hour. Or six hours, whatever.”
Five minutes later another man arrived. I asked how long his research would take.
“Five minutes,” he said. So I shoved aside.
Ten minutes later a third man arrived, a well-healed lawyer type hoisting one of those ridiculously gargantuan black accordion law bags, a dolly loaded knee-high with files, and a Globe & Mail tucked under his arm.
I asked my question.
“Don’t worry about it,” he said, settling in at the desk beside me, propping up his Blackberry and newspaper. Prepared to wait me out. No doubt on his client’s bill.
Ah, life among the dead.
In the land of justice.
Post Script: my “Relax” button, regrettably, was lost among the debris of the moment.