Sometimes, I just want to pack my bags and fly back home. It’s been almost 6 years and I gave it a good go. I have good experiences, and I have had bad, but recently, it seems the bad seems to be tipping the balance.
Here, when you are introduced to someone in Ghana it is quite common for them to be introduced as “so and so, the Lawyer” or “so and so, the Bank Manager”. It appears that because their occupation somehow defines the person who they are.
Well sorry to say this but I have met some pretty shite lawyers who have lost more cases than won, and some banks which have gone under due to mismanagement. So if you are a Lawyer, Doctor or Bank Manager, all it tells me is the job you do and not the person you are.
This topic which I am about to embark on is very dear to my heart, because I grew up to believe that only God deserves unwarranted and Unconditional love, whether of what you do for a living, well you are the same as us small folk on the ground, if you want respect you need to earn it. The only way you can earn it, is to respect the other person.
Over the weekend, the lady that came to wash my clothes came to me practically in tears. I had introduced her to someone who needed a laundry person and for her troubles she got only 10cedis. Now she washes my clothes for 20, and well I barely have enough clothes for one washing machine load, but this person needed to wash for a family of 4 including 2 toddlers and even at twice a week it was like they changed their clothes every hour on the hour because well it was a lot of washing.
I felt bad because I know the lady hasn’t got much and I thought it would be a bit of extra money in her pocket to take care of the kids. I had to cut her times down from once a week to once every fortnight as it was so I thought maybe an extra 50 a week (she was required twice a week) would be of benefit. This is a person who works a good job and her husband also has “status”, so was it by virtue of the fact that this lady was a lowly cleaning lady that they thought she only deserved 20 cedis a week. I want to think that this was a misunderstanding on their part because I don’t like to think ill of anyone, but even if I only paid the woman 10cedis per visit, doesn’t she deserve a little bit more given their “status” and the amount of people in the house.
I also have an aunt, I love her to bits, but can only take her in small doses (she likes to give instructions to just about everyone, and it is more exhausting going to visit then staying in the house). She has a high turnover of house boys and girls because they just can’t take it. Yes you are the queen of your castle, but do you have to shout at them all the time. She doesn’t just bark orders but she shouts at every little thing. If you bring out the wrong plate, she goes into one and then it is not like she stops there, she will then go into all the other things that you have done wrong around the house and have to correct.
In an office environment it is worse. I don’t know if it is an inferiority complex or they feel that just because they go to church every Sunday they are God on earth. A lot of these positions they have found their way into are either by luck, by connection or by bullshitting their way into where they are. They have little to no experience in the area and any small challenge is taken personal.
I remember the story a friend once told me. His boss is the CEO of an apartment complex in Cantoments (a high end area in Accra) and he was the marketing manager. The CEO is himself a self confessed hustler and found his way into a bit of money, got a couple of investors on board and made a mint. He is not too well educated but he is street smart. The minute he got a bit of money in his pocket he left his wife and shacked up with his girlfriend and here kids.
Each apartment goes for $500,000. A gentleman asked for a mere 10% discount, and he was willing to pay the whole thing up front cash down. The CEO gave him a flat out no. When the marketing managing tried to plead the case for the client he was accused of being insubordinate so he had no option but to shut up. Now this is a man who could blow more than this on a car, just because he liked the colour, yet he would rather have no money than the full 500k.
In my experience, bosses are too busy trying to be the boss and less time actually managing to be the boss. In my recent experience, well, I knew at some point it was going to happen so a month well better early and get it out of the way. The boss, well, as I said previously, no people skills one of those people that the company is glad when they resigned because they don’t know where to put her. Well, I sent a perfectly innocent email requesting for an email. Plus a reminder. Ok, so it was a bit extra requesting for a reminder but I wanted to get a head start and get the team to make sure they put their input down.
Well, I am sitting here looking at my stocks when she calls my name “come here!”, like she was calling one of her children. Then she went into one, and threw a couple of insults in. Like I just had to keep on reminding myself in my head that at the moment I have no choices, so I need to shut up until the day I do. Then she tells me she was doing me a favour and now she is not. I will not cry over it, as she said it is my job. I was actually going to do it over the weekend, but she said she was going to send it, so I didn’t. Now I will do it, what can I say, it is my job. But then she shouldn’t come up to me later and expect me to laugh at a joke, sorry too busy fixing up crappy excel sheets.
Then she said that she didn’t have it easy, but she was trying to make it easy for me, but it looks like now she isn’t. Very petty thing to say and very petty thing to do, but it is not something I haven’t heard before. In my former company, the girl that was handing over to me said the same, but I survived and did so for 4 years. When the lady came to take over from me, what did I do, I took her through it step by step, do you know why, because I could. Just because I got it tough it doesn’t meant that I have to intentionally make it tough for others. But this is Ghana, this is Africa, people think because of their status they can be as petty and small minded because they are the boss and you can’t do anything about it.
We came to blows earlier before, she was supposed to send a report and apparently the whole team heard but somehow even though she was sitting in the meeting, she didn’t hear it. So when I was asked how far, I told the truth. The next day the bitch threatened me “the next time you do that, you will see what I will do”. She said it in front of some colleagues and to be honest I was in shock, it was first thing in the morning, and at least ask what had happened. Apparently the boss called her to ask why she is delaying and so she thought that I snitched on her or something. WTF was I supposed to do, take the blame for somebody else’s actions.
Well it appears that her real issue was that I had somehow diminished her role as “the boss”. Maybe if she worked on her people skills and how to be a good leader, she wouldn’t have such an issue. Even when I keep my mouth shut I get into trouble.
The problem is status doesn’t solve anything. It is just what you do, not who you are. If you believe that because you have given someone a job (in the house, in the office), they owe you their life, well sorry you don’t owe anyone anything. You need a service and they are providing a service, but that is basically it.
What will happen if you don’t give respect is that people will do the barest minimum, and that’s that. They will not go above and beyond the call of duty because people at the end of the day want to be appreciated. If you call my name and say “come here” then tell me you are doing me a favour, then please don’t expect me to stay late to make sure that you appear to be doing a good job. People will sit at their desk between the hours of 8 and 5, but between those hours they will be looking on the jobsites. People will clean your home, but in their free time, they will be knocking on doors looking for a new job.
The lady who does my laundry, the other day I could not afford to give her the full 20GHS, so I gave her 15. To date she has never asked me for the balance because she knows, I treat her well. I treat her children well. When I can, I give her a bit extra. When I am clearing out my wardrobe, she is the first person I will pass on my clothes to. When she comes into the house, I smile and ask how she is.
This lady, she has never once come over and said hello, but expects that once she is seated, I should get up and say hi. Even her emails sound as hard as she does, yet I am supposed to kiss her ass. Sorry, I respect the position and I respect myself, so I respect my job. But the person, I cannot respectful, but I cannot respect.
I find a lot of things here funny, people’s actions sometimes you could say are tantamount to bullying and harassment. There are laws against this, but nobody wants to rock the boat, so they suffer in silence until the day they can leave. You the person that lodged the complaint will be seen as a shit stirrer and even though everyone around you feels the same, nobody is going to have your back. So it goes on, so this woman and that CEO will continue to be a bully, and I will do my job until one of us leaves (my friend has since left his job). My aunt is going to keep on shouting at the workers, and my friend is going to continue to underpay the people who work for her. They will not change because they are the boss, and so automatically, they must be right.
Nothing lasts forever.
Whatever your title, your position, your salary, the size of the house, it doesn’t mean jack to anyone. In life it is how you interact with people which determines what you get back.