I’m gonna go all Canadian for today’s quote.
Quoting one of the best of the best, too: Leonard Cohen.
Leonard Cohen’s a pretty serious subject in Canada. As an English Lit major, I studied his poems extensively at uni. So I’m a bit embarrassed to say that this quote is in the book for the silliest of reasons.
For many years, I had a job handling returned product, which required me to determine whether items were to be thrown out, shipped back to the manufacturer, or taken to the sales floor for the pertinent department to handle.
It was that last option that caused me the most headaches.
I’d load the product onto a cart, attach a note detailing what needed to be done with it, and take it to the department. When I dropped it off, I’d make sure to communicate the information on the note to someone verbally, as well. And most of the time, that was the end of my involvement.
But from time-to-time, someone would decide that it wasn’t the end of my involvement, and I’d come into work the next morning to find the cart back at my desk.
So I’d push it back out to the department again.
That would usually be the end of it, but sometimes not. In extreme cases, that cart would roll back and forth between my workspace and the department over and over again.
It could turn into a real contest of wills. The communication would slowly escalate from notes and talking to whomever I could find, to talking to the department supervisor directly, to transitioning to emails so there’d be an official communication chain.
My co-workers, though, would just see me pushing the same cart back out to the same department every day. Some of them would laugh, and ask who was going to win. I’d always reply that I would, because I can out-stubborn anybody.
Although when I was feeling a bit cheeky, I’d word my response à la Leonard Cohen in his song Democracy, instead.
I’m stubborn as those garbage bags that time cannot decay.
I always felt a bit guilty about doing that. It seemed kind of sacrilegious, using the words of an icon in reference to something as foolish as endlessly pushing a shopping cart. But I’d tell myself that the best literature always speaks to real life.
Plus, my brother saw Cohen perform live once, and the thing I most remember him saying was how funny Cohen was. After years of dreary uni classes, with profs droning on, seeming to make a concerted effort to suck all the joy out of the words we studied, humour wasn’t something I associated with Leonard Cohen, and I decided to embrace it.
My humour was, admittedly, pretty lowbrow. But I hope Cohen would’ve at least appreciated the attempt.
To see previous posts in my Quotes series, click here.