COLUMN: In more ways than one, 2015 was a milestone

So there it was in the mailbox Wednesday morning – an envelope from the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia ...

On the Other Hand by Mark Rushton

So there it was in the mailbox Wednesday morning – an envelope from the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia containing my last two pay stubs and a document from Service Canada detailing my Record of Employment.

In Box 16 it stated, as of Dec. 31, 2015, under “Reason for issuing this ROE”: voluntary retirement.

In other words, that’s it … I’m done with “real work.” And since Nov. 25, 2015 was a milestone birthday for me, I’m now too old to get another “real” job, not that I really want one anyway.

And I’m sure if I applied for Employment Insurance I’d be denied any benefits because I am now officially out of the market.

Regardless, having spent more than 25 full-time years in the newspaper industry, and some 20 more in political communications, it has been a great run.

However, it seems my day is not yet done, for as of Jan. 1 of this new year I will be taking up a new, though part-time, role as a bencher of the Law Society of British Columbia. Coincidently, though unintentionally, my appointment was signed by the lieutenant-governor on my birthday, which was neat.

A bencher, for whom the term is new, is essentially a member of the board of directors of the LSBC.

In its own words, “The Law Society of British Columbia upholds and protects the public interest in the administration of justice by ensuring the independence, integrity and competence of lawyers, establishing education and professional development standards for lawyers, regulating the practice of law and preserving and protecting the rights and freedoms of all persons.”

That means the benchers – 31 in all, 25 of whom are lawyers and six like me who are laypersons – determine the course of law in this province, including necessary disciplinary action, and even disbarment, of miscreant lawyers.

It will not be an easy task, with a huge learning curve, but it is a challenge that I look forward to with great interest. And considering there are some 13,000 lawyers active in B.C., I’m certain there will be some busy moments in the coming years.

Thus it is that for a few times a month my mostly everyday attire of blue jeans will be abandoned in favour of blue suits,  and TReO will benefit from a few additional tolls to cross the Port Mann Bridge.

2015 also brought other changes. This column, for instance, morphed from a mainly commentary piece into frequent historical and otherwise accounts of “faces, places and traces.”

If I can go by anecdotal comments from readers, this change is appreciated. Makes me now wonder what they thought of my previous rants.

That said, this column is the 500th in the almost 10 years since its resurrection following an almost 15-year hiatus. That means some 300,000 words have flowed from my keyboard to these pages since 2006.

Hopefully a few of them resonated with you, some eliciting an “I didn’t know that” thought and others brought forth a smile or the comment “Right on!” I’m sure there were also words that generated a “what drivel” response.

Whatever the feedback, these 500 or so weeks of doing what I enjoy – providing a bit of entertainment in an industry that’s been a major part of my life – has been very rewarding.

And, unlike my former day job, I’m not done yet – there are still a few more columns left to write.