In an unusual digression from his typical solid stream of concentration into numbers, dollars, and ledgers, David John was lost in thought, staring out the small window of his small upstairs office at the storm. He was a rather small man; five feet, three inches encompassing a rather well fed 131 pounds. Although the youngest of Daniel Hersey's eleven children, David was the de-facto-and-perhaps self-appointed head-of-the-family now that Daniel was slipping into senility. David John felt responsible for all matters concerning the Family. In fact (it was an odd twist of thought) he was beginning to feel responsible that is was raining.
It was twelve P.M. exactly and David John was beginning to feel conflicted. For the sake of Family, immediate and large, he should remain the next five hours in the office and finish the books. Simultaneously, for the sake of Family, immediate and large, he should haul ass out of the building, schlep through the downpour, and ease his mind over everyone's well-being. No. It just was not right to leave the office this early.
David John returned to the books and successfully absorbed himself for two additional hours. At 2:04 P.M. exactly a tremendous round of thunder and lightning crashed over the building snapping David John out of his concentration. He rose and returned to the small, dirty (at least on the outside; he meticulously cleaned the inner panes) window and peered over the yard. He thought he could spot his brother-in-law (and employer) William McRossie (1839 - 1896) working in the deluge making unsuccessful attempts to tie carps over the lumber piles. In the further distance he could see that the harbour was angry with wind and waves.
He could feel it happening; the odd inner emotional clock that David John held inside clinked into gear. He needed to check on the Family; he had to check on them immediately. He whisked into a frenetic pace. Before he could leave he must secure his office which contained two safes, the books, and all financial papers. David John spun into his traditional checks:
He closed his main ledger.
He reopened his ledger to make sure the last sums were accurate.
He reclosed his ledger.
No, that was not enough. He reopened his main ledger and set a marker in place.
He reclosed his ledger for the second time.
He then reopened his ledger to check the place of the marker.
This he did three more times.
David John snuffed out the kerosene lamp.
No, there were still things to do. He relit the lamp.
He rounded the office, collecting all papers of the day.
He set each paper on top of the smaller of the two safes.
He re-rounded the office for papers he may have missed.
He did this three more times. He had not missed a thing.
Feeling ready to open the smaller safe David John placed all correspondence papers inside.
He closed and locked the safe.
Without a thought he unlocked the same safe to check that all papers were placed inside correctly.
He relocked the same safe.
He repeated the above five times.
At this point, the most important task of the wrap-up, David John opened the larger main safe which held all collections of cash, notes, and important financial papers.
David John counted each monetary paper and coin. He checked each note.
He reopened his ledger and compared all sums with the contents of the safe.
He did this twice.
David John was then ready to lock up the main safe, which he did.
Compulsively he reopened the safe and recounted.
He relocked the safe and walked to his desk.
With another inward pull he returned to the safe and rechecked the lock.
Now he could return to his desk.
Next on his agenda was the preparation ritual for the next work day.
David John sorted all papers on his desk in order of importance.
He re-sorted the papers with more accuracy.
He opened each of the five drawers and fixed every item into its proper place.
He reopened and reset each drawer three times satisfying and re-satisfying himself that all desk items were in place and ready for the next work day.
He dusted down his desk chair and set it in the exact proper place, directly in the center of the nook.
Now David John was ready to face the next decision. What in the Sam Hill he was going to do? He needed to check on his wife and five children. They would most likely be dry; they had moved to an upscale high-ground neighborhood between Queen's College and the Courthouse nearly a year ago. But he had to check. His wife, Elizabeth Kells Hersey (1845–1931) had a neurotic fear of storms. Should he stop at the McRossie house along the way to check on his sister and her three children? Above all he knew he had to make his way through the open ordinance land into the Rideau Ward and check on his elderly parents. They lived on his brother's, Thomas Albert's (1839–1910), rental property, which was downhill from the main house. He knew how this rental could get flooded; he had lived in it before purchasing the manor. Thomas would need help with his ten children as well as the collection of carpentry tools housed in the basement. Every tool Thomas and their father used for their livelihood was kept in the basement shop. Above all, Father would be in a frightfully confused state with all of the rain and thunder, more than Mother could handle.
The decisions being made as to where to go, he then had to decide how. The streets would be flooded mud rivers. Would the Princess Street streetcar be running? Would he be able to hire a horse and buggy?
A final action had to be made. He had struggled with this in the past. But this afternoon he had no doubt he was in the right. This was Family. This was Duty. David John took out the ring of office keys he kept buttoned in his waistcoat. He strode back to the desk and unlocked the petty cash drawer, completely emptying it. He did not write down the amount. He stashed all the cash and coins into a wallet kept in an additional pocket. He shut, locked but did not re-check the petty cash drawer.
David John was then ready for his final round. About an hour had passed, it was exactly 3:15 P. M.
David John re-visited the main safe and checked the lock three more times.
For the second time he snuffed out the lamp, placing it carefully in the center of the oil cloth mat which was positioned exactly on the upper right corner of his desk.
Finally David John exited his office, locking the door. He paused on the landing, attempting unsuccessfully to fight his next compulsion .
He reopened the office and re-checked everything.
He re-exited his office, locking the door.
He checked the lock five times.
Once down the stairs, with his tall beaver hat placed, wool coat dawned, and patent leather boots laced, he opened the main door and was blasted with wind and rain. His boots, coat, hat and probably each item of clothing he was wearing was going to be ruined. This did not matter. He had to check on the Family. He would buy new clothes.
With that relatively cheering thought, out he ventured to make the mucky trek through Kingston. He forgot to lock the front door.
I did make this story up. But all the people and relationships were real. David John was a book keeper - who had a few taking-money issues. I based the OCD on a current family member book keeper who exhibits some of these same behaviors at the office. The feeling guilty about the rain is entirely my issue. oh - and the flood was real. Read the "Like So Many Ducks in a Millpond" post.