EDITORIAL: Ancient & Honorable Title Seeks Worthy Person
When in a contemplative mood, perhaps skimming a distant acquaintance’s obituary, considering their passing and, in comparison, your own mortality, you might wonder what a casual reader of your obituary might think about you and your life.
In such a reverie, you might consider the achievements of your own unremarkable existence, and might think it worthwhile to pursue some notable distinction, something to set yourself apart from your fellow strivers, something with a certain cachet, something giving an ironic wink at human vanity, while also setting yourself apart from the common herd when notice of your death is posted to Facebook.
Perhaps, you think, an ancient and honorable title, one with historical pedigree reaching back to pre-Revolutionary America, would fill such a need. If you find yourself seeking such distinction, the perfect job awaits: Assistant Fence Viewer for the Town of Groton. But wait, there is more.
This title and the job has been mandated by the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 1693. This job and its accompanying title are there for the taking, and the best part is that the job requires almost no work; it’s mostly just a great title. But we must warn you that it is not entirely without financial risk. In fact, the law stipulates, “A fence viewer who, unreasonably neglects to perform any duty required of him shall forfeit five dollars …”
In Massachusetts, every town is required to appoint a Fence Viewer. Groton’s own Fence Viewer, George Moore, serves capably. However, it is not as well known that, by law, the Fence Viewer must, also appoint an assistant.
As an enticement to take up the job, George has announced that the title of his assistant shall be; Secretary of the Fence Viewer. As an additional incentive, George says he would not complain if you slurred your words slightly when mentioning your new title, calling yourself Groton’s Secretary of [De] Fence [ever so casually dropping the word ‘Viewer’ from the title.] So, you could possess the title of Groton’s Secretary of [De]Fence. Sounds pretty great.
One handsome lady of a certain age stopped by the offices of the Groton Herald last week. When we tried to appeal to her vanity to see if she would be interested in securing the title for herself, she thought for a moment and said, “George [Groton’s Fence Viewer] is kinda cute. Tell him to call me.”
This seemed, to us, to be a rather inauspicious response for such an auspicious title and opportunity. So, the title of Secretary of The Fence Viewer still beckons, so please apply at Town Hall if interested, before somebody secures this ancient and honorable title for themselves.