Work Smart

On Thursday I attended a meeting held at the land office. There had been some administrative errors that consequently have stalled subsequent  vesting and registrations of various interests in a particular piece of land that involves several landowners. The lawyers concerned were invited to gather at the land office with a view to find an amicable solution. At the end of the meeting, there was no consensus as to the best way to rectify the error.  The property lawyer found efficacy in making a new transfer with the correct description while the litigators were concerned about the costs and stamp fees that their clients might have to bear and possible contingent liabilities. It was apparent that the property lawyers  and the litigation lawyers did not share the same outlook as the former was eager to move forward with registering their clients’ respective interests and the litigation lawyers wanted to safeguard against unclear but possible claims against their clients thus they proposed to make an application to the High Court for the necessary orders which would invariably involve the state legal advisor and the Judge.

The meeting was necessary and not entirely in vain for all intents and purposes just like a lot of other work meetings and consultations. Recently it has dawned upon me that there are those people who work smart and those others  who are opportunistic and if one should lean towards the latter, it connotes that one is inclined to be devious and unprincipled. Quite often truth and lies are almost indistinguishable for subordinates who do not care much about how they perform at work as they just want to carry on with their routines so they can collect their paychecks at the end of each month.

 In  The Room, the novel written by Swedish actor and writer, Jonas Karlsson and translated from Swedish by Neil Smith, Björn is thrilled to discover a small, secret room where he can work in the civilized manner he deserves and his efficiency yields exemplary results but his strange behaviour drives his colleagues to a point of no return. The room might have been a figment of Björn’s imagination as the other colleagues see that he stands by the wall between the lift and the toilets when he tells them there is a room. He asks one of his colleagues about the room. The narrations are in Björn’s voice. The following extract appears in chapter 23.

        “ Jörgen, ”  I said. “ I want you to be completely honest now. I want you to tell me what this room is for.”

       “ What room?”

       “ This one,” I said, touching the door with my finger.

        “ There’s the lift,” Jörgen said.”And there are the toilets.”

         “ Mmh, but what about in between them?”

         “ In between? Well ,there’s a recycling bin, if that’s what you mean …”

         “ That’s not what I mean,” I said. “ What’s this room for?”

I slapped my hand on the door, fairly hard. Actually harder than I had expected. I realized that this nonsense was wearing my patience. I had to try to keep a cool head.

   “ Well …” Jörgen said, looking at me.

 I could see that he was extremely uncertain. He was evidently disconcerted at having to talk to me.

“….it’s a wall.”

I glared at him.

“Is that all you’ve got to say?

Jörgen obviously finds Björn weird and yet Björn believes “Whoever was responsible for this deception was on a different level of the hierarchy.”

Here are  some samplings of  the passages from  The Room:

The following passage is from chapter 8

Inhibited people don’t see the world the way it really is. They only see what they themselves want to see. They don’t see the nuances. The little differences.

   A lot of people , more than you’d imagine, think everything’s fine. They’re happy with things the way they are. They don’t see the faults because they’re too lazy to allow themselves to have their everyday routines disturbed. They think that as long as they do their best, everything will work out okay. ‘

The following passage is from Chapter 33

 ‘ On the other hand , it’s good to realize that we aren’t as remarkable as we might imagine. We want to earn a lot , eat well, and generally have a nice time. Listen to the radio sometimes or watch something on television. Read a book or a journal. We want to have good weather and be able to buy cheap food close to home.

 In these terms we are all relatively simple creatures. We dream of finding a more or less pleasant partner, a summer cottage or a time-share on the Costa de Sol. Deep down we just want peace and quiet. A decent dose of easily digested entertainment every now and then.

       Anything more is just vain posturing.

Due to its surreal narratives,The Room reminds me of The Trial, a novel  by Franz Kafka. Karlsson’s writing is minimalist and easy to read. It is an exhilarating story about how far we will go-in a world ruled by conformity- to live life on our own terms. If we pay attention, everyone of us needs a place or a mode ( physically or metaphorically)  to re- centre ourselves  whenever things overwhelm so as not to be overcome by whatever is happening . 


San Sebastian ( photo taken in July 2015)
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