Man vs Woman vs Being sick

In the dark hours of last night I suddenly woke up with the realisation that my lovely wife was not in bed beside me.  The emptiness must have called out to my conscious mind… I sat up, listened and heard some grovelling from the bathroom.  I called and she replied faintly.  It wasn’t an ogre.  (Note to Oscar Pistorius , this is how normal people do it, we call out, then wait for a reply.  No guns required).

My wife was sick, and not the feminine flu kind of sickness, she had a full force puke-a-thon-thing going.  Liquids were leaving her body from all known orifices and then some.  There was no choice in the matter, she was competing in some twisted version of a relay; racing between the bathroom and our bed.  All. Night. Long.

When I woke up I could feel the Sandman’s residue didn’t dissolve properly and I was left with scratchy, blotchy, red eyes.  My wife didn’t look any better.  She wasn’t just pale, she looked like a European after a very, very, very long winter.  Her dull grey eyes were sunken deep in her skull and I feared the start of a Zombie Apocolypse.  (No, I didn’t say anything, jeez relax.)   She was really weak after all the fun she had the night before.   Words were not necessary as it was obvious, she felt like shit.  What caught me of guard was when she tried to drag herself out of bed and assume her normal daily routine of getting ready for work.  It went something like this:

Shower, lie on bed, get shirt, lie on bed, wake the kids, lie on bed, put on shirt, get pants, lie on bed, comb hair, lie on bed.  It just became painful to watch so I suggested something radical:

“Love, maybe you should stay home today.  You look pretty weak, and it might not be the best option to face thirty grade 1’s.”

There was a moment.  Wait for it… Wait for it… She agreed!  It doesn’t happen often and it felt really good.

The only condition, I need to call in sick on her behalf.  I didn’t mind and the headmaster, being a normal human being, sympathised and wished her well. It should come as no surprise that men can also be compassionate and understanding.  My wife smiled a weak one, and flopped down on the bed.  I made her some tea and then things really became interesting.

I still had to get the kids to school and with all the commotion we were running seriously late.  What followed was a lot of shouting, chasing, threatening but eventually the kids were in the car, flustered but more importantly, alive.

I ran up the stairs, saw my fragile looking wife in bed and moved in for the kiss, then remembered the germs she was carrying,  and turned my cheek.  Cruel?  Maybe, but there was no way I was going to hand over control of my bowel and stomach to the urges of poo and vomit.  Before I left she said:

“I feel bad.”

“I know, my love.  Take some medicine, and stay in bed.  You need the rest, I think the worst is behind you.  You will probably feel better soon.”

“No, not like that”, she moaned, “I feel bad because I am staying home.  What about those poor little kids.  They’ll miss me…”

WAIT.  STOP.  DID SHE ACTUALLY SAY THAT?

What is it with woman and their misplaced guilt about taking a sick day?  Men don’t have it.   When a man gets a sick day, its a wondrous moment filled with joy and celebration.  And men don’t even need a terrible disease to take a day.  As a matter of fact, God forbid it being a real serious ailment.  A plain old stomach ache would suffice.  Once the call is made, enhanced with some Oscar-worthy acting, and the boss wishes you well, there is NO better feeling on this earth than seeing your family leave the driveway, whilst you are standing in the front door with pajamas.

And then the most amazing thing happens, as soon as that car is out of sight, the healing power of having me-time floods your system.

You run back to the lounge, grab your slightly cold coffee from the counter and jump on the coach, satin-batman shorts and all.  You pick up the remote with a twinkle in the eye, for it now belongs to you, a piece of equipment that opens the gates of cable for your own personal viewing pleasure.  Any channel, any program, any sport, any advert, any movie.  Just for you.  The ultimate surfing experience.  I get emotional just thinking about it.

When you get bored from doing nothing, after about three hours, you do it for another two.  Then only do you persuade your mind to get your body into a shower.  Afterwards you walk to the fridge and curse yourself for not replenishing the beer.  You head back to the coach and play Angry birds compulsively for an hour until you fall asleep.  Right there.  On the coach.  Like a slob.  Dreamy…

Then you hear a faint noise, a car maybe?  You jump up with a drool, three feet long dangling from your bottom lip, dump the empty packets and greet the family with a full-on disheveled look at the door.  This will result in milking a wee bit more sympathy for the-poor-thing-did-you-sleep-all-day-conversation.  And you just hug, look over her shoulder and wink at the kids.

So I ask this question with all sincerity, what part of my sick day does NOT sound like fun?  Which part of it is so repulsive that it packs on the guilt in woman.  Here are the facts of a sick day:

1. You are alone.

2. You have NO responsibility.

3. You are getting paid.

4. You can do whatever you want to and

5. If you want to, you can do absolutely NOTHING.  The. Whole. Day.

The irony was that my wife was really sick, so why do woman even consider guilt as an emotion on such a day?  I shook my head and told the wife I’ll see her later.  On the way to school the only answer I could come up with for my puzzled mind was that men work harder and thus have a lot more stress to cope with.  We need days off.  For ourselves.  To recover.

I might be wrong with my rational, and another reason might be that woman are more driven, trying to prove themselves in a chauvinistic corporate environment where they always end up being compared to their male counterparts, thus having a bigger drive to succeed, or rather to not disappoint…

Nah, it is because men work harder.

When customers becomes Kings.

I am in sales, chemical commodities, but sales nonetheless. I have a wide range of  customers, most of them foreign.  Yes there are some difficult ones too.

So the questions beckons: How do you employ the age-old sales slogan of “The customer is always right”, even when they are not?  Or how do you manage “The customer is King”, when they act like the  joker of the court.

The secret lies in the perception of the customer.  The well-known slogan actually has a few words preceding it, that very few people know about.  I am about to spill the beans, and probably earn the wrath of the marketing fraternity by doing so.  I think it is another life skill that my kids needs to learn, hence appearing on my blog.  The full version of the slogan is:

Make the customer believe that he is always right.  Make him believe that he is King.

You see this is the trick, even if he is not technically right, he must be sent away feeling that he was.  He must feel that you bowed in his presence and he is walking away with the best deal ever.  He must have bragging rights to the way that he expertly coerced you into a terrific deal.

When you have achieved that the customer will be back for more.  He will want to come and live in his Kingdom for another fifteen minutes, often.  Now that the secret is out, the question still remains: How?  How do you do it?  How do you make them feel special.

Most of the times it is easy as you would be dealing with intelligent people, with some kind of moderate control over their feelings.  They want something which you have and if the quality is good and the price is fair then the situation is set.

But in life there are always exceptions, and this is where you will find the pricks.  The ones who makes me ask the question.  Those crazed people who think the world belongs to them, who walks around actually believing they are superior to the average Joe on the street.  They walk around with two chips on each shoulder, the bullies of the commercial world.  Like the one I just had a conversation with. Dickhead.

The only way to handle them is to try your utmost not to call them out for what they are.  Things like, “Who died and made you King of Idiot land?” or “You have the personality of a rock and if you die of thirst in the desert, I will use the last liquid I have on me to wash my ass before I give it to you”  will not increase your sales effectiveness.

I just try my best not to swear at them and be like Peter Pan thinking happy thoughts.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I tell them to go to hell and take their money with them.  It has only happened twice, OK maybe three times, fine…four times.  Are you judging?

I am a pleasant person, most of the time.

The waiting game

Anyone who has ever used flight as a mode of travel will tell you that waiting is a fundamental part of the journey.  Patience is just as important as your passport.  It is the skillset required to retain your sanity.

Enabling you to board a plane, some things needs to happen first.  You have to check in, thus waiting in a queue to have someone issue you a boarding pass.  Me, being best friends with Murphy will never get the nice, friendly lady who gives you the emergency exit, or even better bump you to business class.  I will get the man who argued with his wife this morning, after spilling his coffee.  That happens after you have successfully manoeuvred your luggage through the maze of people and toddlers and was bumped  twice by the over eager guy behind you.

Then you have to go through customs and wait some more.  It can be quick, but mostly in my experience, not.  And by the way, welcome to the Dark side.  Customs is the place which only appoint people who failed their personality tests.  These unfortunate people are forced to stamp thousands of passports until they die or retire, whichever comes first.  They see all these travellers, excited people seeing the world and the only way for them to get some justice in their life is to make yours a little bit more miserable.  Asking uncomfortable questions like, “Why do you look like a terrorist?”

Then you have to wait in line for security.  The scanning session.  I have come to the conclusion that less is better.  Clothes that is.  If the scanner is faulty you will have to strip down to the bear essentials,  just to show that you are not hiding a stick of TNT in your sock.

“No sir, it is not a gun in my pants, and no sir I am not excited to see you”.

Once you have dressed again you look at your watch just to realize that the recommendation to be at the airport at least 3 hours before the flight; is actually just your friends playing a sick prank.  You will have at least 1 hour and forty minutes before you can board.

So you have to wait some more.  Go ahead, browse the duty free shops, because we all need more expensive perfumes, electronics, tobacco and liquor.  Find a coffee shop and wait.  Watch the other passengers sleeping on airport benches, lonely business playing working on their laptops/i-pads, teenagers with BIG earphones ignoring their parents and smokers looking nervously for the smoking spot.  All waiting.

Then they call your flight and again there is a queue.  You hate the business class, rich bitches who are allowed to board first.  And then you wish your kids was travelling with you because families board second.  I have tried to attach myself to a family once, but decided I was not going to be accepted as the lost uncle of the small Indian family I chose.  At 6″4 they looked nothing like me… Then your section is called but you have to wait because the people have misunderstood the instructions for carry-on luggage.

“No ma’am a coffin will not fit in the overhead compartment.”

And this is only embarking.  Once you have flown 8 hours and arrive at your destination, you have the great honour to experience the same sequence waiting with the added benefit of a foreign language.  Then there is the moment of truth, the most dreadful wait…waiting for your luggage.  You stand around a conveyor belt not seeing your bag.  You scan everything like a hawk and count the people left behind as more and more lucky ones take off.  Like the survivors of  a rapture you stand with the lost souls without luggage.  And then you feel like you have just cured Aids when your little blue suitcase hops onto the carousel.

So you have your week abroad, wonderful, but you must return.  (Unless you are a South African in the late nineties boarding a plain to Australia.) Things occur in the same sequence, with the foreign language putting you right in the mood for the waiting game.

I have a final warning and that is the fact that a delayed flight might result in the Waiting game changing into a Crying one.   Teleportation anyone?

Diary of a suitcase.

I travel often. Have done so for more than 6 years.  It is part of my job. Most of my friends envy this fact.  The wife not so much.

I am always pestered about what’s it like, or what did I see, are the women attractive?  I take a lot of pictures to try to convey the emotion, but as I travel on my own, most of the photo’s does not include me.  I don’t really seem to grab the attention of my friends and family for more than two hours at a time.  Nice hey?  I mean wouldn’t you want to see 130 photo’s of Papua New Guinea’s countryside?

So I started another page on my blog, (Hint: Topic of my post), to keep track of my experiences, random thoughts and photo’s.  I am off today for my first trip of 2o13, and thus decided there is no time like the present.

So if you’re interested in more ramblings from me about travelling, hop over to my blog and click on the page with the heading “Diary of a suitcase.” (My kids told me that is how you speak Internet…) I pondered on “Diary of a nutcase” for awhile, but decided that the chosen one has a better ring to it.  Besides those close to me has already had more than enough of that experience, and this one my kids may actually want to read someday.

Feel free if you have questions/comments/suggestions about the places I visit.  Maybe in future  I might even write something down from memory.

Well off to Saudi Arabia.  Bon voyage.