How Plato and Aristotle and time keeping ended in disaster
[Please accept this submission of Ancient Firm of the Future History as my attempt to class up this joint.]
I find it funny how so many firms still use timesheets and time tracking to charge their clients. It’s fairly well established that the ancient philosophers resolved this matter long ago.
Please accept my interpretation of the original, classic Greek play detailing the events around this debate. Delivered in two Scenes within a single Act, I am pleased to present:
WE OPEN WITH PLATO SITTING AT A LARGE MARBLE DESK LOOKING OVER PAPERS, SHAKING HIS HEAD, NOTICIBLY DISTURBED …
PLATO [hesitantly]: Yeah… umm… Aristotle, can you come in here for a minute?
ENTER ARISTOTLE, STAGE RIGHT
ARISTOTLE [smiling]: You rang, boss?
PLATO [uncomfortable]: I’m hoping you can clear something up for me. I just spent the last 30 minutes at the public market being accosted by Senator Acrimonius IV.
ARISTOTLE [surprised]: What?!
PLATO [bemused]: Yes.
Apparently the time keeping cards that we turned in for reimbursement did not match their own records. As example, last Wednesday you marked down 5.50 hours for Public Discourse on Republican Society but Acrimonius’ records indicated that you actually put in 4.25 hours.
And on Thursday, you marked down 7.75 hours and he says his staff vouches that you were only present for a half day. He, himself, was not present on that day but he harangued me for 30 minutes on the fact that he trusts his staff with his life and he trusts us not a whit. How can you explain this discrepancy?
ARISTOTLE [taken aback]: It’s a simple matter, Plato. I walked around the marketplace contemplating and organizing my thoughts prior to arrival in order to provide a clearer and well-structured discourse to ensure their time was well spent with me. I hardly think that is uncommon, master, as you yourself practice the same. Isn’t effective dialogue our goal?
PLATO [somewhat defensively]: That may be true but need I remind you that it’s not my practices that are at question here? Acrimonius has informed me that the Senate is holding all payments until his staff has sufficient time to review all of our records for the last twelve periods to ensure there has been no further fraudulent behavior.
ARISTOTLE [clearly agitated]: Certainly, you’re joking!
PLATO [getting displeased - slams fist to desk]: Do I look like I’m joking? I’ve told you previously that the Senate is an important client and are very precise about their timekeeping practices. They count every grain that runs through the hour glass down to the second.
ARISTOTLE [on his heels and getting defensive]: Plato, I refute these accusations. My time stands as written.
PLATO [angrier]: I appreciate your feelings but this is too large of an account for us to sacrifice. Not only does it mean a loss of our livelihood, it could result in the loss of our very lives if we displease them.
ARISTOTLE [hotly, leaning over the desk]: This is an outrage. I am at the peak of my career and I have to work twice as hard to make the same income compared to my early, ignorant years. Why … I remember not ten years gone when a Public Discourse on Republican Society would take me three or four times as long to accomplish and they paid every gold piece for my time.
Now, I do far better quality work than I ever did in the past and I’m busting my hump three times harder to make a living. To top that with being questioned about my every last minute is unacceptable, Plato!
Tell me, sir! How does this serve our client?
PLATO [nearly frothing at the mouth]: Aristotle, you ignorant ass. This is the way it’s always been done and this is the way it always will be done.
ARISTOTLE [settling back, introspective]: Well then. Maybe I’ve chosen the wrong pursuit for my life.
PLATO [slightly quieter but unnoticing of ARISTOTLE's change]: Clearly you have. And in fact, maybe it is *I* who have chosen wrong. The wrong student in you, Aristotle. Since you feel that you are clearly above my teachings and understandings, I must insist that you clear out your things and depart my troop.
There are other consultants ^H^H^H^H deep thinkers out there are eager to join my company and practice in our well-established tradition of time keeping and hourly billing without complaint. After all, *that* is what the clients want.
ARISTOTLE [quietly]: As you say, Plato. As you say. And yet … maybe there is another way … something better for all of us.
Perhaps there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
END SCENE WITH ARISTOTLE WALKING OUT OF THE OFFICE WITH HIS EYES FOCUSED ON SOME DISTANT POINT, QUIETLY MUTTERING TO HIMSELF.
Stay tuned! We’ll pick up with the dramatic conclusion in our next installment.