My job is hard. I am head of Labor Relations for a Corporation. That means that I am North & South‘s Mr. Thornton and Margaret Hale rolled into one. I have to keep in mind the goals of the Corporation while I am keeping in mind the needs of the employees. I am often reminded of Margaret Hale as I explain to a manager why violating a collective bargaining contract is not a good idea. Hiring Irish workers to break a strike? Not really a great idea. Working with the union to set up a training program for workers whose jobs are becoming redundant, much better.
Mr. Thornton (pre-Margaret) is typical of many managers. His mission is to get his products produced and shipped, in the fastest, least expensive manner. Certain employee rules make sense – no smoking on the premises is one. It’s in no one’s best interest to have the mill go up in flames. But kicking and beating said employee….. maybe not a good idea. Although I sympathized with him. My reaction to that scene – Yeah, kick him some more! I didn’t really like Margaret at that point. I identified with Thornton.
I’m not really planning to write an analysis of North & South. I just wanted to whine about my job. I’m tired. Today I met with a union that is trying to get into our construction contracts; I settled a dispute with the engineers who are responsible for solving problems in the cooling and heating equipment; settled some payroll issues; wrote a policy for disciplining security personnel; researched a staffing issue that one of our unions is laser-focussed on; listened to the complaints of my secretary….and on and on and on. But then I look at pretty pictures of Richard Armitage and YAY, I am transported to Wellington, NZ, thinking of him inhabiting the role of Thorin once again, in the company of friends he apparently loves working with. Seeing that RA went out to a concert with Peter Jackson and Lee Pace was thrilling. So happy he is happy.
Anyway, back to me. This job is the equivalent to me of RA getting the role of Thorin. You don’t think you will ever get a chance to show what you can do on a big stage, and then all of a sudden, you can. You have the opportunity to prove yourself. All the years you worked to keep yourself at the top of your game and then it pays off – you get that job that is an acknowledgement that you have achieved a certain status in your field – that those who matter think you can do the job – even if you yourself don’t think you can!
I have been incredibly lucky in finding people who think I can do the job. If it was up to me, I would never have gotten anywhere. I am so glad that Peter Jackson found RA. He is the director who is able to bring out the best in RA, who gave him the confidence to realize that he absolutely brought Thorin to life. You can see it in all the interviews RA has given since TH. He has a confidence and happiness that isn’t as apparent in earlier interviews. He says that he kept his bags packed for three weeks when he arrived for filming, thinking he would be sent away. That statement really hit me. Not only because I think he’s mad, as in crazy, for thinking that he wouldn’t be able to inhabit Thorin as he has so many other characters. But it hit me also because that’s the way I felt when I got my job. Like it would just be a matter of days when everything would come crashing down and everyone would know I couldn’t handle the job. Well, 9 months in, and it hasn’t crashed yet. Not that it makes me feel any more confident. It’s still a REALLY HARD job!
So Richard Armitage is a mirror for me, as he is for so many of us. We see ourselves reflected in what we know about him. I relate to his commitment to his work, his (sometimes too) candid responses to questions, and to his treating everyone with respect. And his love of theater. And his love of LOTR. And his not spending a lot of time on his appearance. And…so many other things! I’m sure you see a lot of things you relate to in him as well. Or at least things you admire about him, aside from his gorgeousness.
Back to Mr. Thornton. When Margaret impetuously pushed Mr. Thornton out to confront the angry workers and then ran out herself to yell at those workers, I loved her. I so related to her. Before I worked for management in labor relations I worked on the union side. And being hit in the head by a rock thrown by the people you were trying to help. Labor Relations is a complicated world!
Sadly, I never met Mr. Thornton in RL. I did not inspire any tall, handsome, manager to change his evil ways to please me and then kiss me gently and passionately in a train station. <sigh> I will have to make do with watching Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe have one of the best afternoons of their work lives.
Thanks RichardArmitagenet.com for the pictures, and The Armitage Effect for the Wellington newspaper photo.