Yesterday was a good day, which makes the shock of Monday morning that much greater. This morning didn’t start well. I knew when my alarm went off at 5.45am that I needed to make a concerted effort to get to work in time for 7am rollcall. But when the electronic gate didn’t open and I had to find the key and then shoo the geckos out of the motor and then write a note for my neighbours and all this at 6 o’clock in the morning I was pretty sure that I would be late. And I hate being late, especially since I got some ‘feedback’ on Friday that I am often late.
Friday was a horror. Compulsory staff workshop in the afternoon at which I battled to stay awake and almost had to prop up my eyelids with matchsticks to avoid embarrassing snoring. I eventually settled on writing down random words which the presenter said (but which I couldn’t bring myself to attend to) and trying to stay awake that way. It wasn’t pleasant and I was partly to blame for having two slices of cake over lunch. But what got me rattled (and I seem to rattle easily these days) is that we were forced to give anonymous feedback to each other about our strengths and weaknesses.
‘Don’t worry,’ said Presenter C, ‘the feedback will be anonymous and I’ll find a way to use it creatively.’
That’s OK then, I thought, the Major won’t see that this feedback is from me. I can happily write away and perhaps the presenter will pool all the comments on a flipchart. What a relief.
‘But I don’t want to see ten strengths and only one weakness’, continued Presenter C sternly. And like a fool I complied, dutifully writing an almost equal-length list on both sides.
The idea of anonymity in a small sickbay like ours is a bit laughable though. With only one psychologist in the group, who else is going to use words like defensive, self-esteem and conflict management? And of course handwriting is pretty easy to decipher as well.
The ‘creative’ way that the presenter thought of to share this feedback was to simply walk over to each person and, with a small delay, hand them their ‘feedback’. Shock and horror. My piece of paper (in a handwriting I know well) said that I was temperamental and often late. Fair enough. There were positive comments too but it was the negative ones that stood out.
And then I was too mortified to see how the Major took my constructive comments that she was perhaps stubborn, defensive, avoids conflict and that she sometimes appears to lack self-confidence. The sugar and my resentment worked together (along with the boring content) and for the rest of the session I was away in my own world, trying to stay awake.
Fast forward to this morning and I’m trying to be on time in order to show that I’m addressing this weakness in my character. Although of course I didn’t have to. I could have happily agreed that I am often late and that I quite like it, since I get to miss standing to attention during the national anthem on a Monday for example. It’s no big deal. Oh, if only I was as laidback as that.
But on to other things. The picture above shows Cape Town stadium as reflected in my car mirror, decorated with mirror socks in the spirit of the World Cup. Quite a few cars have these mirror socks and also flags and the spirit is if not quite at fever pitch then well on the way.
To give you another idea of the football fever that is set to become seriously over-cooked in the next month or so, I give you … the giant vuvuzela.
This is like a giant kid’s toy which has been dropped on the uncompleted freeway near the Waterfront. Hyundai clearly spotted a gap in the market for such a toy and combined it with a giant electronic scoreboard so that we can all see how many days there are to the World Cup. Apparently the giant kids who will be operating this device promise to blow a big, loud blast of hot air whenever there is a goal scored at the Cape Town stadium.