Several years ago I had the opportunity to take some art classes with a well-known local artist. I had always admired her work, and I jumped at the chance to study with her. We had to "audition" and show her some of our work before we were accepted. Her class consisted of 15 people and it was an interesting group, all with very different artistic styles and levels of talent. We were instructed at the beginning of the classes to introduce ourselves by first names only, and we were not to discuss anything about our private lives. The teacher wanted everyone in the class to be on a level playing field, as it were, and to bring to it only our interest in learning art.
I made a couple of friends in the class, one was a woman named Kathy and the other was an older gentleman named Bill. The three of us sat together at the same table each week and we critiqued each other's "homework". Bill grew roses and he loved doing paintings of his roses.
Over the course of several weeks we got to know each other very well, but on a first name basis only. The three of us had a lot of fun at our little table, and occasionally our paintings would cause gales of laughter. One day as we were walking home, I said to Kathy, "What do you think Bill does for a living?" She said, "Well, he wears the same beige Lacoste golf shirt every week, and he's very quiet and unassuming. I think he's a toaster repairman." "Yup," I agreed. Bill was definitely a toaster repairman, quietly sitting in the back of his shop every day, screwdriver in hand, fixing toasters. It suited him perfectly.
At the end of the sessions, the entire class had a party. The teacher brought a few bottles of wine and we had a pot-luck dinner and kicked back. We were all given permission to state our last names and to describe a bit about ourselves. There were the usual suspects, a physiotherapist, a school teacher, a nurse, me ... a few other folks. Kathy and I winked at each other. We were finally going to find out if Bill was really a toaster repairman. If I recall, we had a $5.00 bet on it.
When it came to Bill's turn, he quietly talked about his rose garden and his interest in painting, but he was hesitant to talk about what he did for a living. We felt bad that he was embarrassed to admit he was a toaster repairman, but we finally pried it out of him.
Bill, it turned out, was The Honourable Mr. Justice William Joseph Trainer, a Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Our friend Bill had presided over the Supreme Court trial deciding the disposition of the “cash for bodies” in the Clifford Olson case, Canada's most infamous mass murderer, and serial killer of children.
Never judge a man by his quiet manner or his beige Lacoste golf shirt.