Diary of a busy practitioner, juggling work and family somewhere in England
I recently saw a post on LinkedIn that made me really quite furious. This in itself is quite an achievement as nothing on LinkedIn has ever made me feel anything before, apart from maybe that I want to poke myself in the eye with my bodger for something more interesting to do. I don’t know if I am doing it wrong, but almost all I ever see is people congratulating other people on their 'work anniversaries', half of whom I know have retired. People congratulating people on work anniversaries not knowing they have retired, with a auto-generated message ('Congrats Colin!') sums up most of what is wrong with the 21st century.
The person - a solicitor - who wrote the post was a connection of a connection of a connection, saying that because the average age of someone dying with coronavirus was higher than the average life expectancy, could we please 'get back to f***ing work'. This was just before the recent lockdown announcement. No doubt they are going to be furious now.
I don’t know this solicitor. Maybe they were trying to be deliberately controversial to gain popularity (more good 21st century stuff). I’ve had a little read of their feed now and I don’t think we would get on. They are all for wearing enormous poppies whilst eroding the international relationships that were our fallen heroes’ biggest successes. They also don’t seem to believe in sexism as something that exists. As I say, maybe not my cup of tea.
I thought about commenting on the post. But I am very unsure of my footing on LinkedIn. Unless I am saying 'Congrats Colin!' I feel that I should simply be advertising my employer, rather than getting aggro with a Katie Hopkins wannabe. I also didn’t want to give them more attention.
So, this is my response.
I never wasn’t working. I have worked until I have cried. I have met my fees targets despite being paid 80% of my salary. I have worked my socks off whilst also taking care of two small children. I have worked my socks off filing and photocopying and putting post in envelopes because there was no one else to do it, on top of fee earning, and it looks now like I will be doing all that again. I have baked in my jacket like an actual potato whilst meeting clients in their sunny gardens. I caught up on work on a Sunday morning and lesson-planned on a Sunday night.
What about my colleagues? Well, try asking some of your colleagues if they have been working. Try the conveyancing department and see what they say.
Yes, there have been some people at home. Furloughed colleagues no doubt worrying (justifiably) the whole summer that they would be made redundant. And people like my parents who were in the unenviable position (OK, maybe I envied them a little) of being completely unable to help people like me whilst they tidied their garages every day.
And what of the suggestion that we shouldn’t worry about people dying over a certain (average) age? Well, for one thing, it is an average. If I can make some minor sacrifices to save the lives of parents, nurses - anyone really - then I will. When the virus disproportionately affects Black and Asian groups due to systemic social issues, we should listen to the rules. When young nurses are dying, we should take things seriously.
For another thing, this person seems to be suggesting it is OK if people, who wouldn’t otherwise have died, die at 82. Between the age of 82 and her death at the age of 96, my gran gained nine great-grandchildren. From the age of 92, she saw one particularly pesky great-grandchild most days and - despite said pesky child bossing her around constantly - it literally gave her a new lease of life. Between the age of 82 and 96 she made me alone 1456 cups of tea and 137 roast dinners. She sent a cake to me at university every term. She sat in my hotel room as I got ready for my wedding. She enriched the lives of everyone lucky enough to come into contact with her.
I don’t have my gran anymore, but I know she lived the very last drops of energy and love out of her life. I’m so sorry if you have lost someone five, ten or more years early because of this awful virus, and I really do speak for almost everyone when I say that. As we approach another lockdown and all the associated emotional strains that go with it, we should remember that just because these days we all have a platform, it doesn’t mean we all should be using it.
*Some facts and identities have been altered in the above article