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League of heroes, revisited | Marcel Strigberger

Friday, April 24, 2020 @ 2:25 PM | By Marcel Strigberger


Marcel Strigberger %>
Marcel Strigberger
“Love levels all ranks” uttered Sir Joseph Porter in Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore. He made that remark while courting the daughter of the good ship’s captain, whose station in British society was way south of his own. Given the current COVID-19 situation, I will say a good pandemic levels all ranks. We have new heroes on the block.

For the 40 plus years I practised law, I thought the justice world was the centre of the solar system. And as social proof of my opinion, there was a myriad of movies and television programs depicting and often glorifying the law, lawyers and justice generally. After all, how could the public not be awestruck by a system which brings criminals to justice, resolves civil disputes and in some jurisdictions makes judges and lawyers wear wigs?

Since the pandemic was declared, the courts as we know them, shut down to personal human contact and they are dealing electronically, generally only with urgent matters. And since then other callings have stepped into the heroic spotlight, overshadowing the legal entourage.

These are in no particular order. And I am talking callings other than of course, the first responders and members of the medical profession. It goes without saying they’re tops.

Firstly, there are the couriers. While in practice they would come and go daily and at best someone would say “Thank you. Leave it here. Where do I sign?” On occasion during the summer a couple of staff in my office would comment on how cute the FedEx guy looked in his shorts.

Now when you’re housebound, the arrival of a courier to your house rivals that of the coming of the Messiah. A UPS guy delivered an order for us recently, and the goodies included delights such as a can of salted cashews, a dozen fresh oranges and the pièce de résistance, a 32-roll pack of toilet paper. I anticipated his arrival like the besieged folks in the fort of a John Wayne movie, waiting with bated breath, for the cavalry to arrive. As I saw that brown truck come down my street, I could almost hear the bugle.

To most of us this event is more exciting and relevant than their lawyer sending them a letter asking them to fulfil the undertakings given at their examination for discovery.

Then we have the workers in essential retail outlets such as pharmacies and supermarkets. They’re right in the trenches, facing the uncertain. In the past, how many of us used to argue with a cashier who refused to check us out as we had more than the permissible express line 12 items? Now most of us will say, “No problem madam. We’ll just drop these superfluous offending items. Just get me out fast. I like your mask.”

Even with no queue, virtually nobody nowadays will make a beeline to their lawyer’s office to get a company incorporated. I think we’re all more excited now by a roll of toilet paper than articles of incorporation.

Then there are the postal workers. We all used to make fun of snail mail. Now the expression going postal has taken on a fresh connotation. The mail is still getting through. True we still get junk mail, but it doesn’t look as bad anymore. I see even this through a different lens. Given the extra time on my hands, I actually read some of it. I now look forward to the day when I can call some outfit to check out my eavestrough. Kudos for the postal workers.

However, as awesome as these people are, I doubt when the crisis ends and things return to normal, that they will be glorified in the entertainment media like the law has been. I just do not see a movie called 12 Angry Couriers, Witness for the Loblaws Cashier, or To Kill an Envelope.

But then again, I expect these heroes will indeed remain indefinitely in our minds and hearts. We should forever tip our hats to them, or where applicable, our wigs.

Marcel Strigberger retired from his Greater Toronto Area litigation practice and continues the more serious business of humorous author and speaker. Visit www.marcelshumour.com.

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