I had a meeting with a client the other day who was searching for a new property in Devon and as well as my laptop I had a lot of papers to take with me. I thought I could do with a better bag and suddenly remembered my old briefcase, sorrowfully languishing out in the shed with boxes and other paraphernalia, either stored or not yet placed since our last move. I found the case hidden behind some storage boxes and dusted it off outside.
When I finished working in the corporate world, I was keen to distance myself from any former work items, and the briefcase, which had spent more time with me than virtually anything else, held too many memories at that time. It used to sit behind my seat in the car when travelling, bulging with “stuff” I had “to do” or would lay forlorn and empty in the office, awaiting a recharge at the end of the day as I cleared my desk. Normally, it would accompany me to meetings with staff or customers, enjoying the various exchanges that formed a daily part of my business world.
The case had witnessed the dark side of the job as well as sharing in some of the successes enjoyed with the team. It had seen joy and utter despair, thankfully not in equal measure. It could tell tales of amazing results achieved after inspirational decisions and low points when the only luck available was bad luck. Like me, it had an ancient patina that clearly showed the toll paid over the years.
I had bought it almost thirty years earlier on holiday in the town of Chania on the Greek island of Crete.
……We parked the hired open top Suzuki Jeep in our regular spot on the main street just outside the centre of commerce in Chania. Walking through the exotically stocked covered market with its different sights and smells, some enjoyable, some not, we headed towards the famous street of leather workers with the objective of buying a new and interesting leather briefcase for work that would be unaffordable in the UK.
Halfway along, jostling with the teeming crowds of tourists, we found a shop that sold briefcases as well as sandals, belts, wallets and hats etc. Seeing one I liked, I asked the price. The owner of the shop turned to her assistant and said in Greek “tell him it’s thirty thousand drachma”.
The daily 100 mile round trip to work and back in the company car listening to BBC Greek language tapes over the previous 6 months was just about to pay off. ” I will give you twenty two thousand and that’s my best offer” I said in halting Greek. The disbelieving look on the owners face was a picture and I walked out having secured the case for around twenty pounds. A promising start to our future working relationship……
So I felt good arriving at my meeting, my paperwork and laptop all safely secured in the faithful old valise. It felt very familiar as I strode towards the rendezvous from the car.
It has now regained its rightful place at the side of my desk in the study.
Strange to say, but it has been just like catching up with an old friend I haven’t seen for some time.