It’s safe to say nobody cared much for Edward “Bitter” Tannen. When he’d first come aboard at Delacroix & Masterson the office wags had taken to calling him “Biff” after the character from “Back to the Future.” But it soon emerged that this Tannen was anything but the swaggering, aggressive fictional character. He was a morose man, face always lined in worry rather than age, and any conversation with him tended to turn quickly to recrimination–against unnamed persecutors, Tannen’s ex-wife, his grown daughter, Canadian society at large, and so on.

So to his back he was “Bitter” Tannen. He’d have been fired long ago if he hadn’t been, in addition to all that, a stellar researcher, brief writer, clerk, and all-around workaholic. Tannen took on jobs that people with an eye on making partner wouldn’t, and he did them well. That was enough for Mme. Delacroix and Mr. Masterson to overlook any complaints about his behavior in the office. He was, in the words of a co-worker, a cog who needed twice the grease for three times the work.

When he died at his desk late last July, no one noticed until a brief wasn’t handed to the right person nearly two days later.