It’s never as it first appears

Situations are never as they first appear. This week, my grandson came for a working visit. Grandpa needs some hard work done. Grandson needs a working holiday. Grandpa needs an old sidewalk hammered out and cleaned up. Grandson needs money. Something about wanting a car by the time the driver’s license arrives.
So we start to work on this old busted up sidewalk. Well actually Grandpa with the sore back (really, honestly it’s sore) shows the lad how to break up cement with a sledge hammer. Then the fun begins. We knew it was two layers, that was obvious from the splintered, frost heaved shards. What we didn’t know is that underneath was a layer of broken bricks. The dumpster is really going to fill up fast now.
Same old story, nothing is ever as it first appears.
Years ago, I did a large number of farm debt cases. I had clients all over southern Manitoba. Part of the process was to assess the actual debt situation for farm families and work out a solution. We had a fair amount of success. To figure out what was really happening to a business, we would make a list of assets and debts. Then we would ask who the creditors were. To totally ascertain that we would do a search of the Personal Property data base. Those reports never came back exactly the way the family believed they would. There were always differences. A vehicle loan might not have been recorded. A sold vehicle might still show up as security. Paid off debt would sometimes still be on the list. It was an education. One certainly learned to check the paperwork carefully, and twice.
In my latest job, as a mayor, I have learned a new appreciation for paperwork. If a paper trail is important anywhere it’s in the municipal world. We are always referring back to a by-law or a resolution, a policy or a regulation. Again, rarely is the wording exactly the way any person remembers it or assumes it to be. You have to love paperwork and bureaucracy.
I am reading a biography of Winston Churchill, the well known British Prime minister who is credited with uniting the free world in the fight against Hitler in WW II. From the very first emergence of Hitler as a leader in war-torn Germany, Churchill warned that Hitler needed to be stopped. The majority of English politicians didn’t believe him. Neither did the public for many years. The majority of the British, along with much of Europe, did not want to believe that war would ever break out again. It was wishful thinking based on the horrifying experience of WWI. Nobody ever wanted to back to that devastation of life, limb and property. But Churchill knew one thing that few others knew. Appeasing your enemy doesn’t make them a friend. 
It doesn’t matter if you are re-constructing a sidewalk or building a nation, few things are as they first appear. Perhaps that’s for the best. If we saw all the problems at once we might never start a project.

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