Harby

I suppose an explanation is in order. Certainly a fellow blogger thought so, sending me an email asking if somehow something had been dropped from my post on stuffed animals.

The short answer is no. I just didn’t think to explain myself. And I suppose I really should explain why my son’s stuffed toy rabbit, “Harby,”‎ was, and for all I know still is the subject of a file held by Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the RCMP.

Harby was a stuffed animal I purchased in my late teens or early twenties. I don’t remember the circumstances – I probably had someone in mind to give it to, then wound up keeping it.

Anyway, at the time I was employed by the RCMP as a micrographic equipment operator (as mentioned here). The work was routine, sometimes boring, other times extremely interesting. We were converting paper files to microfilm: RCMP officers’ service records, criminal records and sometimes, if things were slow, books and magazines. We used big flatbed cameras, hiding behind curtains for eight hours a day while we filmed the documents, one page at a time.

I don’t remember who first decided to film something not in the “to be filmed” pile. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me. But eventually we would all do it. We all had things we wanted to preserve for posterity.

It was easier to not split a file between two rolls of film if you didn’t have to. It made the verification process easier once you processed the film from your camera. I seem to recall each film was good for about 1800 shots, but after 35 years I wouldn’t want to swear to that.

Harby, I think, was given the last eight shots on a roll of microfilm. Front, profile, upside down, I took his picture from all angles. When the film was developed I clipped the negatives, put them into the proper holder, and labelled it “Harvey,” my name for the rabbit before Paul would take possession of him a decade later. I filed the microfilm in the RCMP archives, where it may be still.

I did keep a copy for myself, suitable for reading in a microfiche reader. I have no idea why I did that – I’ve never owned a microfiche reader, and the pictures didn’t do the toy justice; the microfiche was blue, Harvey was white. I found that copy in a box when I was cleaning our basement, I think about a year ago. I don’t remember for sure what I did with it, but I presume I tossed it in the garbage.

So that’s the story. When the column about stuffed animals was first published, in 1992, no-one asked why a stuff toy rabbit would have its own RCMP file. But having been asked, I felt I really should explain.

To me the story is a reminder of how important it is to have fun at work. I had that job for about six months, I think, then was promoted to another branch of the RCMP, a job that paid better but was less fun. I’m a big proponent of fun at work. A job may not be super challenging, but if there is a good atmosphere the time can pass quickly and drudgery can be avoided.

I started my working life, like so many North Americans, at McDonald’s. I have a lot of good memories of that job too, but maybe I should save those for another day.

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One comment

  1. Filed the microfilm in the RCMP archives. lol

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