My colleague, yes that same one, tells me every chance he gets, what a pleasure it is to work with me. Everyday he is happy to come to work, because he sees the great strides we are taking to make things better in our department. How every idea I present is worth looking into. How all my grievances matter. I matter. ‘You are great at your job’ he says. ‘And we have the best team in this place and you are their leader.’ I agree with him every time. And though I appreciate this positive supportive energy, I am tired of it. I would like to have just one day where I am just okay, may even mediocre. I think I would like that. So this is the final draft I am sending to the human resources department.
Under the type of complaint, unsolicited validation.
So today I had a very brief and interesting conversation with my tax guy. I was quite elated about my refund, so I was in a chipper mood. He on the other hand was happy but very tired. Off course this season is his busiest, but he went on to explain about the sleepless nights thinking about all the tax returns he had to prepare each day. I had a thought and I shared it. ‘Maybe it is the way you are looking at it,’ I said. ‘Instead of focusing the amount of work pending, focus on the amount of money you are making.’ I continued. I told him that didn’t inspire a good night’s sleep, I didn’t know what would. He promised to try. Will it work? I guess I will find out next year.
I did not grow up eating much fish. There was the mandatory spoonful of cod liver oil my parents said was good for our health. One day my father came home with a big plastic bag of omena, a small dried fish that resembles sardines found in Lake Victoria. Even the triple bagging could not mask the strong pungent smell. ‘What are these?’ my little sister asked poking at the bag. ‘Dinner,’ my dad replied excitedly. My mother then marched over to the kitchen to inform him that the smelly fish would not be cooked in her kitchen and stink up her whole house. My father unrelenting promised that by the time he was done we would be licking our fingers. After a little back and forth, the house help was asked to prepare the charcoal jiko, so my dad could cook on the verandah just outside the kitchen. She was left to prepare the ugali and sukumawiki side dishes. Finally, we sat at the table to try this amazing dish. My youngest sister remarked that she couldn’t, because the fish the were staring at her. ‘They have such big eyes’ she said. We all snickered. Except my father who insisted that we get on with the meal. After a few obligatory bites to acknowledge the effort that had gone into the preparation, we left the dinning table one by one. Suddenly home work that was usually left for the next morning just before school was very important. My dad enjoyed his meal, as he shook his head, quite disappointed by our lack of culinary adventure.
I have this colleague, who in my mind bounces out of bed at the crack of dawn, chants an affirmation and hums a happy tune while getting ready for the work day. I on the other hand, crawl out and bully myself into mustering the least amount of effort it takes to get going. We both love our jobs, but my expression of this love is quite muted to say the least. So as I sneak into the office knowing he already has a twenty minutes head start, I avoid contact. I just need a moment to recalibrate this day. He respectfully waits sixteen minutes before he saunters out in the common area to wish me a top of the morning. Which is acknowledged with a nod. He says he determined to make me a morning person. ‘But why?’ I ask him. ‘Can’t we just approach this day differently?’ He his not deterred. He said he will try again tomorrow. And so we will do this morning dance again.