Thursday, 10 November 2011

Daily bread

The only good thing about rain is the fact that it’s wonderful that I don’t have 
a dog. Even though I have no intention of getting a dog in any case.
The same occurs just before Christmas, when I always think 
'Oh how wonderful it is that I do not work as a gift wrapper at Toys R Us.’ 
Or occasionally, ‘Oh how wonderful it is that I do not decorate pies.’ 
Which I did when I was 15. You slice open a cake, put whipped cream in between, then put the two halves together and then put whipped cream and fruit on top of it. Colleagues of mine at that time would probably stay there until retirement. We talked about that (and life in general). They said, as an example:
"Oh yes! Today we are baking fruit cakes!"
And then I said something like:
"Oh, I think this is the stupidest job I ever had, I do not think I will even make it through the week, will you?"
Your ability to be sensitive is quite underdeveloped when you're 15.

So, anyway, it rains, in the midst of another holiday. One wonders whether children learn something here in South Africa. Which is actually a fair question when you take into consideration that only 12% of South African children have access to proper education.
That makes us a privileged minority while in this country, but I never consciously applied to become 'Director of Entertainment’. In fact, I would not even consider it, when certain conditions, required to fulfill the function properly (such as a nice indoor swimming pool or playground) are absent. Or, because those two amenities might cause me to put my nose in the air prudishly, the alternative is a museum with ‘fun experiments for kids’.
Believe it or not, I got the job. To my chagrin and after meeting with the CEO, who has bigger fish to fry, I square my shoulders and start tentatively.
I carefully examine my three-man team. They are all quite small, and I do not think they take to my introductory talk very well: "Folks, we're stuck with each other, so let's make something good out of this holiday.” They do not even seem to listen. Every conversation ends in a shouting match and they do everything at hyperspeed. They constantly ask: “What do we do next?” They never say ‘please’, self-reflection is absent and their concentration is inadequate at every level. They fly into each other and irritation becomes the latest pastime. It's not easy to manage, before you know it, you start to scream! Very soon I'm sick of it all.

So what do I do? I first split a wooden spoon in half on the sink and then I call the CEO, stating that I’m taking early retirement starting now.
During this outburst of rage, the maid walks in (it is indeed only 8.00 am).
Oh that’s right! We also have the domestic staff!
"Hello, how are you?!" I roar. You don’t step out of your role immediately
And she says: "Not so good."
Her sister, who has been ill for some time, passed away. She was only 37, has five children, of which the youngest is only three years old. In a split second I see an extension of the team I just set aside. But then she says the children will be cared for between sisters, brothers and the daughter of the maid.
The reality of living in South Africa strikes me forcibly. And besides that, the meaning of "having children" takes on an entirely different meaning.

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