Don’t Take It Personal(ly)

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Doing business here can give you a serious inferiority complex.

Every so often the media reminds us that there’s something called “an ease of doing business” ranking and lets us know where this country falls on the index. Primarily designed for outsiders (also known as investors) who want to set up businesses here and others who need to navigate government departments for whatever reason, the ranking is supposed to give an idea of how easy it is to get through the red tape.

But what about the rest of us who have to live here? I don’t remember being polled, but maybe they didn’t want my opinion because I’d probably have to admit to not feeling the need to get up some mornings to do my daily exercise due to the amount of hoops that have to be jumped through that day. And that’s before I reach the person that I’m actually supposed to talk to.

It can take two calls per day for up to two weeks before you realize that you’ve been trying to reach the wrong person. And when you do get the correct name, you discover that the work required for their substantive post seems to conflict with what they’d rather be doing instead – so normal business hours don’t apply to them.

Waiting for a call back? Might as well go ahead and tackle those difficult calculations that you’ve been putting off. That way you can distract yourself from the fact that three days later you still haven’t received the call. So you can see how a person might come to the conclusion that “it’s my money they don’t want”.

You don’t want to go over somebody’s head, so probably the best thing is to find someone you know who knows somebody who knows somebody else who can move the process along. That’s when you rack your brain and play the game of six degrees of separation. Isn’t the person you’ve been trying to reach a cousin of the godmother of your best friend’s uncle? You’ll find that it’s a connection worth exploring when the usual channels don’t seem to work.

Let’s hope that the person you’re trying to reach is not away on a “business” trip, because then all activity moves from a crawl going nowhere to absolutely dead. Apparently only one person can do that particular job, so the absence leaves only an assistant to move some papers around and take your multiple messages which will be added to the others on the fire stack already waiting.

Nothing personal. Just business.




I suppose if I live long enough I’ll hear everything. Or maybe I just need to get out more.

A couple of months ago, I read about something called a “push gift” – a gift that a man gives a woman after she has delivered a child. His child, presumably. I immediately disliked the term, and assumed that it was an American thing because I can’t remember hearing any of my friends remark that they were given a gift after they delivered any of their children.

But maybe they just didn’t tell me. Or maybe they got a gift a few months later and didn’t know what it was. Whatever the case, I’m trying to remember whether my husband sought to reward my efforts at childbearing by presenting me with a little bauble. But he’s always been wonderfully generous, so I may have been unaware of his direct attempt at compensation.

I’m hearing about the ‘push gift’ once again because a notoriously vocal musical celebrity has been making the talk show rounds on American TV with her gift in tow, and I say ‘tow’, because her cushion cut canary diamond ring is quite a big item to carry around. Long before she received it, she had been making her expectations known, so I dare say it wasn’t exactly a surprise when she opened the box.

But she’s new to the motherhood thing. So if she thinks pregnancy and childbearing was hard, what’s she going to ask for when the child is colicky, when she has to clear the child’s nasal passages (without a suction apparatus) just so that he can breathe, and when he has a bout or two with diarrhea and she has to lay him and his bare bottom on the floor with a blanket, because to do otherwise would be a waste of several good Pampers?

What’s she going to ask for when she has to deal with a growing child who is teased at school? Or has to explain that life is not always fair? Or see the look on her son’s face when the innocence of childhood is gone? What’s she going to ask for when the sacrifices she makes for him seem not be enough? What would she ask for if God forbid, she became a single parent and as we say locally, water became more than flour?

But since she’s unlikely to have any of the challenges that most of us have to deal with, maybe her husband only needs to concern himself with what she’s going to ask for the next time. If, she graces him with a second child.