Over the past few weeks, I have been reading some of the classics. The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, The Time Machine…yes, there is an H. G. Wells theme. But, the latest of these classics was Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days. As I got to the end of this novel, I started thinking about just how many parallels can be made between it and the world of Litigation Support.
If you’ve not read the story, the basic concept is that the main character, Phinneous Fogg, makes a bet with his wealthy friends that he can make a trip around the world in 80 days. The story is based in the 1800s, so there is no airplane travel. Just trains, steamers, walking, etc. Fogg is an extremely even-tempered man, who claims to have planned for anything that will get in his way. He shows no emotion to anyone around him; no matter what happens. His newly hired servant, Passepartout, travels with him on this journey, there’s a rescued girl, and a police officer after Mr. Fogg for supposedly robbing a bank. Overall, the story is entertaining and action packed.
So, where am I possibly making the correlation between this book and Litigation Support?
Fogg represents the litigation support department, service provider, or individual trying to meet a nearly impossible deadline. If the deadline is reached, victory and riches! If not, ridicule and ruin!
Of course, bets have been wagered. The wealthy friends are those around the main character, some of which think (hope) the deadline will be reached. Others are betting against Fogg’s success and hoping they’ll be proven right in their prediction of failure.
The police officer, Fix, originally after Fogg to arrest him, places obstacles in his way to keep him from reaching his goals. The officer could be seen as just about anything: Lack of confidence, naysayers, poorly developed software, or an unexpectedly large and horrific set of data. All of which can either hide in the background until the least opportune moment or present themselves from the onset of a project. Later in the story, Fix flips the switch–still for his own reasons–and begins helping Fogg in his quest. This flip, I relate to those moments when things seem to be going right and back on track, but all the while there is still that possibility of impending doom waiting just at the edge of the deadline (a server crash, a disgruntled employee).
Fogg’s trusty servant, Passepartout, is constantly trying to help with the successful completion of the quest. This character represents a loyal, trustworthy person or team of people. These are the ones who will do anything to ensure that the deadline/goal is reached, no matter what the price. Passepartout makes mistakes along the way–some that almost cost Fogg his entire journey. Passepartout does not blame others for the various issues that come his way, even though in many instances, he could have. Instead, he owns his actions and pushes on to do what he deems necessary to get things back on track and to help his employer meet the deadline.
The rescued girl, Princess Aouda, who is thankful for the rescue, but who also believes that Fogg wants to be rid of her as soon as he can be, sees herself as a hindrance to Fogg’s travels. She soon finds out that her beliefs are unfounded. Aouda stands out to me as the significant others or close friends of those of us who work in the Litigation Support industry. Those that we love unconditionally, that love us unconditionally, and that we never want to be without. They are the patient ones, the ones that do not want us to endure the stress that we do, but understand that it’s what we have to do to reach our goals. They wait for us to come home, get some rest, finally take a shower after two or more days (you know it’s true), and spend time with them. They celebrate our victories with us and hold us when we fail.
Even the finale of Around the World in 80 Days reflects the world of Litigation Support, but I won’t spoil it for you.
Are there any classic novels that you relate to your world of work? I would love to hear about them!