I used to work for the town of [redacted] in northern Alberta, Canada, as the town’s Municipal Development Planner. It was a pretty small town so everybody knew where the town office was and most of the residents had the same low regard for the people who worked there. After all, town employees didn’t have real jobs but they sure got paid as if they did.

One day the town council came up with the brilliant idea that putting the bios of senior staff in the local paper was a great way to convince the residents that the town’s employees were well qualified and working hard on their benefit.

Council brought this to the town manager and assistant town manager who also thought it was brilliant. The rest of the staff were ambivalent about being more ‘visible’ in a town where animosity towards civic employees ran pretty high.

As for me I hated the idea. Since I regularly made decisions about granting or denying permits for all developments in town, I held the one position that residents universally saw as “potential ass hat”. So no, I did not want to do anything to increase the size of the target on my back.

I demurred when the idea was first dumped on the staff. Then came the deadline to have our bios ready for the town manager to review. Then a second deadline specifically for me when the first one whizzed by. Then came the closed door meeting at which I was the guest of honor; apparently providing a bio was not optional. I was given a new deadline: noon the following day.

When I asked about the format for the bio the reply was “enough detail to give the residents a good feel for your qualifications but not so long that it cost very much to put it in the paper. No more than one page.”

A single page bio showing my most outstanding qualifications? I could do that. Next morning a copy of my bio was on the town manager’s desk. And also emailed to every town employee to, you know, get their input.

Andre Legris (Palmarius non fecit)

Andre Legris was born in Edmonton, Alberta. He immediately looked around and thought, “Well, this will all have to change”.

He speaks multiple languages: English, French and Quebecois. Can curse in all three.

He grew up in west Edmonton (Canada) one block from where Wayne Gretzky first lived. He convinced Gretzky to stay with hockey despite The Great One’s desire to play bass guitar in a folk-rock band.

When he was 23, a chance meeting with Bill Gates in a dingy cantina in Tijuana, Mexico, lead to a boozy afternoon during which he convinced Gates that Portals was a lousy name for a computer program and that Windows sounded better.

He has multiple academic degrees but prefers doing cool stuff.

One day during winter, he made time stand still. It was only for a nanosecond but nonetheless, it was cool stuff.

He was accepted into the NASA Astronaut program but declined the invitation when he realized that you can’t actually fly the International Space Station anywhere but around and around in endless circles.

He was offered the Nobel Peace Prize for his international work, but decided not to accept, citing the inevitable requirement to talk to an endless stream of journalists, politicians and other vermin. That, and his preference to ‘fly under the radar’.

He once finished the New York Time’s Sunday crossword in less than ten minutes but left a single four letter word unfilled, just because.

He has seen the future and does not approve. Not one damn bit.

After a lifetime of observation of human nature in all its quirks and idiosyncrasies, he has decided that the optimal companion on this journey through life is a cat.

Andre became a Development Planner for the opportunity to both play God with people’s lives and meet hot women. He has succeeded magnificently with one of those goals; not so much with the other.

Andre’s time working for the Town of [redacted] so far has been an eclectic mix of shuffling paper, playing internet solitaire, drawing cool maps and plotting the quickest escape route to somewhere else.

So there it was, on a single page. Oddly enough not only was it not published in the newspaper but the subject of staff bios never resurfaced after that. A few of the staff were miffed that their bios were also never published. Oh well.

What’s the moral of this story? The lesson to be learned from this bit of tragicomedy? If anything, that social engineering works in the strangest of ways.As for the meaning of Palmarius non fecit? Nobody asked, which of itself speaks volumes. It is a loose translation from Latin: My masterpiece.

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