I am sure many English speakers have heard or said "you just can't get the service these days" in response to shoddy workmanship, process or service failures. Is it me or has human interaction become more fraught with impatience, stresses and aggravation lately.
The world has seen a pandemic, bringing along with it, new mental health pressures from lock downs, inhibited social freedoms and restriction to movement. Could this be the reason that I am sensing more hostility, more impatience, more 'micro' aggression, as it's banally, called?
Recent point in case, my interaction with an obnoxious Manager, yes Manager! Due to a problem partly of my own making, Customer Service had noted in writing, that I be given priority in the queue. As I made my way to the Manager to explain the situation, I was bamboozled by this man, name unknown but in uniform of some sort. Raising his voice, talking over me, gesturing equally rudely, without making eye contact he shouted what, I don't know but I got the gist from his demeanor. Not easily intimidated, I maintained my position as he invaded my personal space. Finally, unwilling to be screamed at without defending myself, I raised my voice " I am talking to you".
Not What I Bargained For
Having secured his confirmation I would be placed in front of the queue, I returned some 15 minutes later to secure my place. Irritatingly he removed the barrier and then deliberately placed me in the longest counter queue. Though it wasn't the call up queue. So, naturally, I started making my way to the shortest. In a flash he blocked me, hemming me in and preventing me from moving, while shouting something about "your fault and the person that dealt you isn't here". He clearly got out of bed the wrong way......... so much for for the customer always being right - Ryanair!!
Least Equals Most
To be honest poor service is not new. Its something I've experienced all too often, by corporations quick to take my money but slow to give it back. The worst are those that provide a 24 hour 'service'. God help you if you can't resolve your problem in 1 call, because thereafter what you'll get are multiple contradictory responses, from frontline staff in multiple time zones across the world. A strong culture of an unwillingness transfer the call to a supervisor, at best. At worst, calls terminated, rude and clearly ill trained or simply incompetent staff. All this makes for multiple cycles of stressed, frustrating dialogue. My experiences here include Booking.com Airbnb and Expedia. One does finally get a solution and sometimes compensation/ refund but God knows, its a pound of flesh type scenario to get it. Banks and government institutions tend to do better.
A Deliberate Policy To Annoy
Often stress levels rise before a voice at the end of the line. Pressing the keypad several times to 'route' (ostensibly to provide the best help!!) but which, in reality is just cold, cut throat cost saving efficiency that leaves me, effectively doing their job. That is after offering every conceivable method like website or text, by automated message, to not respond verbally.
If You Must Talk, We're Not Listening
With move from pressing keypads to a robotic AI 'voice' now asking me state the problem it seems corporations are determined to do within their power to not provide me service at all. They should take my money, provide shoddy service, then I should shut - up but if we really must talk, talk to a machine, which they tell me is 'learning' or something. This latest bit of 21st century technological advancement, is cold and devaluing. Feeling like a fool uttering mono - syllabic "Yes, No" or some such from multiple choice questions, when its actually none of the above. Who cares, what choice do I have? I can take it, or leave it and go elsewhere for the same.
With COVID, work at home, social distancing and subconscious fear of contamination widespread, I wonder where this world is going and what 'advancement' is doing to the psyche. Smart phones, texting and messaging have long overtaken spoken conversations, and reduced social contact drastically. In officialdom, calling colleagues, has given way to emails. So maybe that ill mannered, rude Manager at Ryanair, is merely a sign of the times. Soon metal and computer chips will be running our homes, flying our planes and driving our cars. Its best I get use to it. A rude Manager or Robot, I think I prefer 'Mannerless As Standard' How sad that's my only choice now.
COVID19 has given me time, I would otherwise not have, to do some spring cleaning and general organizing; as I keep saying. One of the things that has gotten my attention is putting photos, going back years, in chronological order, into albums. Some of these photos go back to before I was born, in black and white. I have taken immense pleasure going through these photos of my parents, both of whom have left this earth, my grandmother (never met either of my grandfathers) my Godmother, also deceased, numerous aunts, uncles, that have also left us, family friends, young, happy, at the start their adult life. They are dancing, partying, posing at various events, dressed - up, giggling and serious. Then wedding photos, baby photos and the look of proud parents, can't be missed.
I have no recollection of some photos of me, but think all these aunts, uncles, friends would have 'goegoed' at me, picked me up, wiped my tears, given me sweets and kept a watchful eye over me. Suddenly; an epiphany, respect, I didn't consider or much appreciate before. Then another, so at one point my parents' generation, were busy being young and planning their future, with their whole life ahead of them; not knowing what life would bring.
My heart is moved, I am touched remembering, the older generation like "good friends we've lost along the way" as Bob Marley put it, so succinctly, in song. There is a whole load of emotion and reflection. There is joy; I smile. I am sad too, I know so much unhappiness, was ahead for many of those smiling faces. The Bible says life is a mist that is for a little while. Over and over the photos that catch my attention the most are of my parents partying, dancing carefree and happy. The broad smiles on their faces, tell me this. I am also mindful of where we (their kids) get our fashion sense. They are dressed up in the latest fashion, those tiny waisted full skirts fur coats (yes, not politically correct now), coiffed hair or curls, with the straightening comb and tongs..... smart suits for my dad.
There are photos of me and my siblings, our christening, birthday parties, cousins, family friends, I haven't seen for years. I'm dressed in jolly party dresses, like I did with my daughter, the pretty doll aspect of motherhood. I strain to remember old friends, recognise some easily and recall the circumstances of the photos. The lawyer, the diplomat, the weddings, the events. There also those I have lost touch with over the years. Then sadness, the ones we lost along the way, through suicide, through ill health, accidents. One sad photo, triggers unpleasant memories of others, not in the album. Lifes cut short, too young, too early, there was still so much to learn and experience. I am thankful.
I come across more recent photos, gosh, I've put on weight. I'm not over weight (10 - 12 depending on style, now) but I can see from my once size 8 (UK), I have gained pounds around my face especially. I compare photos. My face is fuller, my belly.... rounded, rather than flat and tight. In fact everywhere has more weight, there's no getting away from it. I think uhmmmm..... it just creeps up on you, twenty years have passed since my size 8 days.
It all seems like a film, a replay of an old flickering reel that someone is winding in a dark room. Its you, it happened but somehow its intangible, surreal. Holiday photos, parties, special events, alone, with friends, with family. So many different times and occasions.
I stare and laugh at photos of my chubby daughter, now a 5.10 inches lady, I remember things around her birth and 1st birthday, like yesterday. I imagine this is how it was for my parents and their generation. I start to pray again this time to be a grandmother, so I can add to the flow of moments, because now I see these albums not a images but life. Time flies, moments are an accumulation of a timeline. These photos capture a moment, a minuscule particle of infinity. How lucky I live in a time, when moments can be captured like this, so easily.
I remind myself, I have experienced life, relationships, interacted, lived. Despite its fragility and limitation, paradoxically life is also timeless. It all happened, eternity never takes that away, no matter that life is a mist, intangible, that we are mortal. I am at a point now but look at all behind, that has brought me here. There is a Yoruba (West Africa) saying, a young person may have as many clothes as an old person but never as many rags. How true!!! Its easy to forget, caught up with so many things we don't even notice 24/7 is happening under our noses. Mindfulness and meditation helps capture moments but it seems a photo has a more lasting effect, I am only now beginning to appreciate. Do you have photos. Go through them regularly. It will help to earth you. It does me anyway.
Web image: No copyright to image.
#dreams, #memories, #hope, #young #mindfulness
Women have always had a strong instinct for enterprise and always had the issues of 'gender' influence their choices, often as a result of external sources, such as family or patriarchy. Enterprising Female was borne out of the desire to impact women empowerment positively, in my own small way. Always with the 'teach to catch a fish, rather than give a fish' approach.
Its always refreshing to meet women from around the world, of different cultural and environmental dynamics and challenges, doing the same. It was a pleasure to meet and share with some very competent , able and motivated women driving the agenda for women's empowerment through business start - up and growth in The Gambia. It was particularly a pleasure for me, to be able to share ideas, concepts, programmes and funding/sponsorship suggestions, to help bring their vision to fruition. Well done Gambian women, I say.
This year I refused to get caught up in the International Women’s Day ‘movement’. What’s the point I thought. Where is the substance to this day. Speeches, photo ops and some wining and dining, then ……..back to normal or is it just forget for a little, that gender inequality continues unabated. With the exception of retweeting a UN Women post, about a woman that helped make the internet possible, worthy irrespective, that was it. No LinkedIn, No Facebook, No recognition of the day by me, at all.
In fact I left this blog till a day after deliberately. I’m tired of this silliness of International Women’s Day. One of many days the U.N and other such global agencies, formulate for PR ,or perhaps to help us forget the many challenges the world faces, or simply trying to aneasthetize us, into thinking things are getting better, when they are not. Obviously it can’t, this way. Women suffer the most in times of crises, war (started overwhelmingly by men) famine (started overwhelmingly by men, through incompetence), maternal health (sad men don’t get pregnant). To change things, it has to be grass roots, think Rosa Parks!!
The first revolution for women has already occurred. The pill, education and financial empowerment, along with some change of attitudes, over a generation. My hope is that by the next generation things will have moved on through activism and a more robust legal framework, for women in the workplace. In the meantime, I would rather a practical way to ‘celebrate’, or anesthetize. How about those of us in the more economically advantaged countries of the world, donate a £1 on the day, to small scale women entrepreneurs, in poor countries to impact their lives for the better. Think how much we could raise – hundreds of millions just by giving a £ on a single day of the year. The donations would be with as little bureaucracy as possible and given to help the women how they need, not how determined for them, by elite politicians and technocrats. Say No to International Women’s Day, say yes to a helping hand for change.
I’ve done a little travelling in my time and learnt a bit from my numerous short breaks. Whether the Christmas market delight of Hamburg or Prague, the ancient city of Rome, , the Colosseum or the Acropolis of Athens, Ephesus and Istanbul; relics of a bygone era. These have held new fascination, wonder and an enlivening of distance times but also a reminder of the transience of life. Even within countries, one senses differences. In Hamburg, an open city where I felt unthreatened (surprisingly, given my preconceptions of Germany) to Frankfurt where even at the airport people were rude and disrespectful. In Spain the cruelty of a bull fight, to the architectural quiet, of Toledo the former capital. The reputation of Parisians as rude proved correct, though exceptions to the rule, of a kindly couple that helped me along my way. Malta; Gozo the smaller island, a Mediterranean delight, to Paphos in Cyprus, an over commercialised holiday resort and retirement destination, for the British. All provided new awakening of the senses, learning, marvel and appreciation of the world. At the same time, an escape from the mundane, often, stressful daily living. I pick 3 of my favourites, to share.
Hong Kong - China. The best thing I found about Hong Kong was travelling to the small islands that dot the main island of Hong Kong itself. Lantau, beautiful, rural; Macau, urban and modern. It was the scenery that catches the attention. In the morning mist, a thick fog cover the sea and visibility is low giving an eerie, mystical feel that slightly disorientates the senses. The ship wreck, used as a location for a James Bond film (Man with A Golden Gun), adds a slight disquiet, like seafarers venturing into the unknown, in Homer’s Odysseus. It was magical, never forgotten. As we crossed to Lantau, the mist slowly lifts and you see the island from afar. Shopping can never beat this!
Marrakech – Morocco. The name sounds exotic and it is. There are few choices, for travel to Morocco, Fez and Casablanca among the most notable. I chose Marrakech, simply because of its name; a good as any, for choosing a holiday destination, I say. In the Southern part of Morocco, it did not disappoint. The blazing sun, the colourful cacophony of the souks and endless Squares, the leather works, the spices/ herbs, the traditional displays, wow, its overwhelming. The warmth of people, all made it a pleasure. I enjoyed bargaining at the souks; a must. Bought eucalyptus, saffron from Berber pharmacy. Be careful of being lured of the beaten track to the souks, by random individuals, claiming the souks are closed and they’ll show alternatives, free. Really just a way to draw you to buy something from another section of the market and then demand a tip. Even a simple request for directions can elicit a request for money. I don’t begrudge, staying at a Riad, in the Medina, I understood. Anyway, it is better than theft or pick pocketing.
One of the most spectacular sights I’ve seen, is viewing the Atlas mountains as the sunsets, a journey I made by camel in the Agafay dessert, where I was driven by car. Apparently Prince of Persia was shot there. It doesn’t surprise, that Morocco is frequently a film location.
Hurghada – Egypt. Having visited Cairo, primarily for the Pyramids, Sphinx of Giza and the museum, before making my way to Sakkara and Dashour, to visit even more pyramids and to wonder at the ingenuity of ancient African people…….. yes the ancient Egyptians or Kemites were entirely African. The 2nd time round, I chose Hurghada. This definitely takes the cake!! I thought the view from Agafay, wouldn’t be beaten anytime soon but I was wrong. From the descent into the airport, the first thing you notice is the sky of the colours of the rainbow. Looking down at the landscape, combined with the skyline, gave the impression you were on another planet. Then the Red Sea, 4 colours of aqua marine, deep blue, light blue and almost black (from the reflection of the coral reef). On an excursion to snorkel, swim with dolphins and generally laze, the gentle waves sparkled as the sun bounced off them. What a beautiful planet! Then the coral reef and fish of many colours. I’m not a teenager but let me borrow … the word “amazing”!! Then looking up at the night sky, the moon seeming so close, that a few blocks up, you could touch it. Such a beautiful place and contrast to Cairo. Lots of activities on this trip, to a Bedouin village, the landscape again catches the attention. The Red Sea Mountains, not as impressive as the view of the Atlas Mountains but the surrounding haze made them delightful to the eye. The topography alone did wonders for my state of mind and took me away for what seemed an eternity, from the cold winter of London.
Where would you recommend? I’m planning Petra and 1 day trip to Jerusalem, sadly the Israeli – Palestine issue means of principle, I won’t stay there longer. I love visiting ancient towns and cities, marvelling at the ingenuity of people and being reminded of my own mortality. What will I leave behind, for people to ponder 3,000 years from now? … if we haven’t self- destructed, that is.
©Photo: Agafay Dessert, Morocco.
You may remember my blog The Fun of Learning and Zero Cost series: De-stressing Your Workplace, I shared my experiences of a short floristry course and extolled the virtues of plants and their effects on the psyche. Today it’s quick rundown on what’s happened to a single plant that has had me thinking about life and birth.
Over the summer 0f 2017 I decorated the window ceil with several plants some lasting longer than others, which meant over the course of the season I replaced the plants several times. Among the plants I regularly purchased were orchids, which as I have learnt, is taken from the Greek word for testicle, due to its bulbous root. I must admit I am a late comer to the beauty of this flower, which is not fragranced like the hyacinth or rose and has a long stalk, needing ties to a bamboo or other support, to stay upright. Each lasts about 5 – 8 weeks and though the instructions for care, state they may bloom more than once, found myself throwing all but one of the about 12 I bought.
It was one of two, (I always buy them in pairs, since they’re testicles!) I was about to throw away when I noticed little bump on one, like it was sprouting again. I wasn’t sure but decided to hold on, just in case. True enough a new stem started to grow through autumn and winter then come Spring I noticed two flowers springing out. First, the familiar 'pod' like petals which grew larger then boom, a fully- fledged flower. Sadly one perished before it bloomed but what a surprise. It didn’t make the normal 5 – 8 weeks but what a joy when I noticed two new stem sprouting from the main stalk, with numerous tiny ‘pods’. I held my breath will they make it to maturity!! Well this blog is inspired by the fact they did. I have 10 full glorious orchid flowers (see picture) and can see a couple more new ones, yet again. It was really a good feeling. Life and newness that comes from dying and rebirth.
For the first time I appreciated death, which more a curiosity rather than dread to me. The mystics, the religious say, it’s the beginning of something new elsewhere. Is this orchid an insight of life to come, will I be reborn, what do I have to do to nurture and prepare for a pleasant rebirth elsewhere? The orchid woke me up. As I look outside the window, I notice the perennial tree, the leaves fluttered away, it became bare and then the leaves slowly returning much like my orchid. Summer, with the sun and merriment has taught me a life lesson.
As we approach Christmas & the New Year, I thought a quick rundown of my blogs for the year, with accompanying updates to round off & prepare for 2018 appropriate. To be concise I have chosen my favourites but in no particular order. Happy Christmas.
This blog, leading from my course on Managing Responsibly included themes on sustainability. I took my learning personally, by investigating & informing management of my building, on recycling, electricity waste & conservation. I’m glad to say that after following up; results. Recycling bags are now provided, though nothing has been done about leaving sockets on, without anything plugged in, nor the inefficient heating problem. Nevertheless, some action. Managing Responsibly is not just a work related issue. Read - funmiad.wordpress.com/2017/08/20/managing-responsibly-means-being-responsible/
The Fun of Learning.
In this one I reflected on how learning can be for fun & the courses I took, that were totally unprofessional related. These included floristry & complementary therapy. Since this blog, I have extended my fun learning time, to include further complementary therapy course & subscribed to Mind, Body, Spirit a publication on holistic remedies & as the title suggests, spiritual aspects as well. I really recommend this, it boosts endorphin (for me anyway) which can only be a good thing for work & stress relief. Talking about stress relief, De- stressing Your Workplace, was one I wrote in June sometime. I continue the practice & will share photos of the change I continually make to keep my environment stress – free. Read - funmiad.wordpress.com/2017/08/01/the-fun-of-learning/
White Power: A Case Of Racism in International Development
A couple of work related blogs one on racial discrimination, 1 of a 4 part article, in international development, of all places .!! I promised I would update on any responses from DFID, the government department for UK “aid”. No response, despite going through my local MP. Continue to wait but will follow- up more rigorously next year. Funnily enough, not long after I published this blog, the Prime Minister’s office, published a report highlighting the issue. All the more sad, they aren’t responding. Action I say, not words, soon forgotten. Some of the reactions I’ve got to these articles have been quite a revelation, sadly not positive. The final part will come beginning of next year. Read - funmiad.wordpress.com/2017/10/11/white-power-racism-in-uk-aid-to-africa/
Enterprising Female, Halloween
A short and final blog on my pet project, Enterprising Female, reminding myself & everyone interested, about the concept & principles of behind the events; women’s empowerment. If you reside in London, or happen you be around, join us in the New Year for a taste of this unique way, of mixing business with pleasure. Read- funmiad.wordpress.com/2017/10/30/why-were-doing-business-just-before-halloween/
Share your thoughts of your year in our LinkedIn Group or Facebook page.
Wishing you all a Happy Christmas & Prosperous New Year.
s, People especially business owners tend to be a cynical lot - nothing goes for nothing. I remember as part of the support I provide through @Enterprising Female, signposting a lady business owner, to where she could get further help with her fledgling business, free. Her answer why? Why would they do that, Funmi? I went on to explain about funding. There was even a business owner that poked suspicion, about the concept of Enterprising Female and its entirely altruistic agenda, to help women thrive. She said something along the lines you can say its about supporting women businesses but we all really just want to promote our own businesses. Wrong.
Enterprising Female is entirely about women equality, through business promotion & growth. A not - for- profit, social enterprise, from which I earn nothing, except enough to cover expenses. Low, low prices, plenty of flexibility & in -built business advice, from my management consulting & business advice experience, spanning 19 years. Our Next event is 27th October at W2 London. If you're a small business owner, join us. Take advantage of our tiny priced stalls & other business growth options, for humongous returns. Be less of a cynic, there are genuine people out there. If it helps, though, I wear another hat to earn my living.
Putting your money where your mouth is is definitely the way I like to approach life. After taking a Managing Responsibly On- line course by Manchester University, applying the new techniques I learnt in the workplace could be considered given. However, I’m pleased to say this course, as well as others in Sustainability, came in handy on a personal level, when I moved into a new place last year. I noticed that although the block of at least 50 flats of professional people was well maintained, surprisingly, it had no recycling bins. I mentioned it to the on – site management but was given a story about the Council taking the recycling bin away, the year previous. At first I took this at face value but noticing the inordinate amounts of recyclable material, we were binning, decided this was something I needed to take up, when after mentioning it further, no action was taken.
I Googled, found the number, telephoned and was told I needed commercial recycle bins, which could only be ordered by the building’s management, due to the nature of the building. I passed the message onto the lady- in -charge, whom bluntly refused to call. Undeterred I left her the phone number & suggested she try & arrange a bin for the building, due to the overwhelming waste. Nothing happened. so determined to do my bit, to act responsibly & contribute towards a sustainable future, for the next generation, enquired about personal recycling. I was informed I could pick up recycling bags, at the library & drop outside every Wednesday, for picking the following day.
I’m glad to say I’ve done this & my many bottles, cans, cardboard etc is now part of the wider drive to save our planet, from over consumption. I recently made the effort again to galvanize management, into moving on recycling, to no avail. I also pointed out a couple of energy inefficiencies in the building, though I don’t know how seriously they’re taking me. Anyway, the moral of this is, a little goes a long way & don’t be undeterred by the laziness or irresponsibility of other people. No matter how small the contribution it does make a difference.
I enjoy learning new things and over the years, as well as lots of academic, professional & CPD for my career development & advantage, learnt to swim & got into yoga, as an adult. I’ve also tried fun day events like steel band & creative arts, during the summer months. I find it all very stimulating especially when you’re learning, professionally or not, without the pressure to succeed.
I recently took up 2 fun courses, which I have found extremely therapeutic, Indian head massage & sculptural floristry. I must say that like the 3 dimensional art workshop I took in 2015, have enjoyed every moment, of learning for fun. In addition, the art workshop was free, the other courses were of low cost. Other benefits of engaging in this type of pastime, is meeting new people, sharing ideas, releasing untapped creativity (which I actually did not know I had) & new skills to benefit my health & well- being. The Indian head massage techniques, aimed at performing on others, I can also, actually use on myself, at times I’m feeling stressed & in danger of getting a headache. Last year I engaged in guided meditation, breathing exercises & mindfulness, which I now practice regularly. I can say I do find this has helped my emotional & physical well- being tremendously.
The floristry workshop, is a really enjoyable pastime & as someone that loves gardening, potted plants & floral displays, found it’s open a new avenue to enjoy flowers. The key thing I got from it was relaxation. It was also great seeing others in the class (all women!!), their displays, different perspectives & approaches to sculpting flowers. I share some photos below.
I recently blogged on how destressing your workspace can destress you, this course fits in nicely, with that theme. As an entrepreneurial female, I was quick to see the potential of these 2 courses for fundraising. Enterprising Female is a not- for- profit, supporting women & raising funds for women business owners, in developing economies. These new skills can provide income generating activities to support the organization & raffle prices to donate.
So, what lessons have I taken away from these workshops? First its humbling, there is so much to learn, so much positive potential with which to fill our lives, it makes me wonder why Sapiens are so negative, finding fault, causing wars & generally over concerned with the rat race & the pressures it puts on us. Second, I realised there’s a universe inside of me, yet untapped, that I’m just learning about, sadly, as a mature adult. 3rd learning new fun things is very stimulating & opens the mind to new adventures & creativity, that could have benefits for the work environment. Why not give it a go & let me know what you think?