I went out to lunch yesterday.
I had spent well over an hour on the phone with the lawyer and ended the conversation with a sigh of relief - relief that I was not paying for the dubious "privilege" of speaking to them. Lawyers, as anyone knows, are expensive.
This one sounds pleasant, interested and anxious to get things done. She had the courtesy to thank me for me for the preparatory work I had done - which she could have done and charged for but had agreed was "urgent". Tomorrow she sees my friend, still in hospital, and does yet more paper work. Hopefully this time next week the necessary papers will be signed and we can get some essential things done for her.
After that I had another meeting. This one was the last in a series of work meetings, a project that has involved a good deal of my time in the last year. Unlike the others I am not in paid employment. I also had to put in far more time than anyone of us had expected would be necessary.
"Cat, we are taking you out to lunch," I was told.
"The sandwich bar?" (The place they have been getting together on the ground floor of the building several of them work in.)
"No, a kiosk at the beach."
Oh right. It will, I thought, be an equivalent of the sandwich bar with sand in the sandwiches.
It turned out to be a very pleasant inexpensive café with good food at low prices. It is not a place where you get waited on but the staff cheerfully accepted that some of us needed a bit of extra help. They asked us where we would like to sit - that sunny corner? It sounded good and it was lovely to watch the waves coming in.
We tidied off the ends of the project, ate an assortment of café style dishes, and then toasted each other in coffee, tea and orange juice. I even shared a piece of home-made apple strudel with someone because it looked so good. (It was good - a lot of apple and not too much pastry.)
But why, if they were taking me out to lunch, did we go to such a location? Were they being mean and penny-pinching?
Not in the least. A girl who helped to served us was one of those who had been involved in the pilot project - before my time. Her flat face and slightly slanted eyes instantly tell you she has Down Syndrome. The smile on her face and in her eyes tell you she can do the job as well, if not better, than many other people. No, she doesn't do everything there but the things she does do she does well and she does so with great pride and obvious pleasure.
Only the project leader knew. The rest of us had no idea she had been employed there for almost a year. The owner is hoping she will stay. I hope she does too.