Today is International Workers’ Day.
May 1 is also called Labour Day in some parts of the world.
Last May Day, I wrote about some of the wonderful people who toil to make my life comfortable. That post is titled:
This post is about a few others who earn their living by making my life easier.
And it’s about what I try to do to ensure they receive a little additional gratitude. Hence, the twist of that Shakespearean story in the title of this post.
I am a little biased towards helping people I know personally. There is a need everywhere in the world, but I have found that, when I enforce my ‘Charity begins at home’ mantra, the personal interaction with my clients (as I call the beneficiaries) fulfills a certain emotional need in me.
Remember I said this a while ago?
I will share some details of my work with my cousins in a future post. Oh, don’t worry about making me cross my heart. I will brag.
In my first post of 2013? No?
That post is titled:
Not even the faintest of tinkling bells? Oh well. You’ll just have to take my word for it then, won’t you?
Nearly 5 years ago, I gave up a high flying job and lifestyle and … whatwho?
The Monk Who Sold Her Ferrari?
Do I look like a person who has COMPLETELY lost her mind?
Why on this climate changed earth would I sell a Ferrari if I owned one?
Ditch those wheels to trudge up some mountain?
And to think, that you thought, that I was the ridiculous one. Ha.
So let’s get back to the point, shall we? I worked at a few companies in a few countries and I was happy. Until I
grew a pair had the courage to admit to myself that it was ephemeral happiness.
Nearly 5 years ago, I moved into the slow lane. Seeing the difference in my life overall, towards the end of last year, two of my cousins decided to weave in and out of that lane.
Being the lazy wench that I am, I will copy the rest of the background story about my cousins from my earlier post.
Late last year, when I went away on assignment, September-October, to be precise, two of my cousins gave me a wonderful surprise. The timing is uncanny because these two cousins are not related to each other.
One is Mummy’s younger sister’s son and the other is Daddy’s younger brother’s son. Both are from different parts of the globe and though they have met each other on occasion over the years, they are not in contact with each other. But they both came up with the same thought, and they both approached me with the same request, at almost the same time.
They both wanted to do something about, what I call, their Personal Social Responsibility or PSR for short. Since I switched careers to social service 4 years ago and am thriving* in it, they decided to seek my guidance.
*Not in terms of salary earnings, but the emotional millions I’m raking in.
So there. That’s what’s been eating my time since October last year. Because this is completely new to both my cousins, and I work alone with each of them via Skype, I have had to spend time I didn’t quite have.
I call the cousin who is older than I am – Gun.
Because it’s his high school ‘street name’ for his biceps back then; which he only used to peacock around with, not beat anyone to a pulp.
Gun calls me ‘Chick’.
Not because I’m female, but because I’m the younger of two sisters. Chick is not offended in the least. She cheeps in delight, in fact.
I call the cousin who is younger than I am – Dawg.
Because we both like dogs. That’s a lie. But I really can’t tell you why I call him that.
Dawg calls me ‘Dude’.
Because I spent 5 years in my earliest career in his city, and during that time, I spent a lot of time with him and his (then) school and college bloke buds, who are still his closest mates today. I was (and still am) like just another dude to them.
I had a few ‘rules’ for my cousins when we discussed this project. The two biggies I insisted on were:
1. The clients be people I know personally.
2. Gun and Dawg would have to meet the people they help when they visit Mum and me. Until the visits happen, I would send them detailed reports about my interactions with each individual/family every time AND that I want feedback from each of them.
Both cousins requested anonymity with the clients (and in general) and I respect that, but I stressed that they must visit the families the way I routinely do.
Years ago, I’d found that writing cheques and giving cash donations to organisations made me feel good about myself, but interacting with the clients, especially in their homes, makes them feel good about themselves. And whoa! Don’t even ask how I feel when I see the unbridled delight over my visits to their humble dwellings!
Gun doesn’t travel very often on work, so I usually Skype with him.
Dawg has, what I call ‘ants in his pants’ i.e. he’s a globe trotter, so we communicate more frequently via e-mail.
Below is an excerpt of my mail to Dawg when I introduced some possible clients. He gladly adopted this group.
1. Gisele: As in Gisele Bündchen. That’s what Mum and I call our tribal banana woman.
We call her Gisele because years ago, when Mum told her she (Mum) wanted to get her (Gisele) a new pair of flip-flops to replace her well worn ones, she had told Mum she preferred the Havaianas* brand because she had heard that they didn’t hurt the feet. She walks around with a basket of bananas on her head. She’s pint sized and a very chatty old woman. And yes, Mummy did get her a very colourful pair. Mum said Gisele’s face glowed just as brightly as the new pair of Havaianas on her feet when Mum gave them to her.
*As you know, Havaianas are originally from Brazil. Then they, like Gisele Bündchen, made a splash in the world of fashion.
2. Grumps: Our tribal veggie woman.
I named her that because it took me three years to get her to crack a smile. She used to be very serious, almost sullen. My ‘May God bless you’ in local speak, which works as ‘Thank you’, and ‘May God grant you a good day’, a typical parting line, were ignored the first three years. A year and half ago, she began grunting a response. A few months ago, she began to reciprocate more coherently; sometimes, not always. And she even manages a hint of a smile on occasion when I gently tease her.
Giselle and Grumps are a dying breed of door-to-door salespeople. They don’t have much longer either because nearly all the tribal women sellers are a weathered, wrinkled lot.
3. Smiley: Our baker.
Smiley is a very pleasant person and I bestowed that monicker because of his bright and ready smile to all his clients. I think he’s in his late twenties. He looks after his sickly mother and Smiley himself suffers from kidney stones. The boys at the traditional bakeries lead very hard lives. :-(
4. Dormouse: He is a quiet, skinny, um, insignificant worker at our grocery store.
He has a 7 year old daughter. He hails from a very poor family, and he is oh-so-humble, Dawg, it makes my heart ache for him.
The above mentioned four people and a few other families now enjoy the blessings (as I call the monetary assistance) from both Gun and Dawg every month.
Dawg is a Financial Consultant and has founded his own company in a country far from where I am now.
By January this year, barely three months in, Dawg developed a virtual umbilical cord with each of his clients. He was so thrilled with how well this had taken off, he got greedy. As in, he wanted to go for scale with this venture. So he dangled a delicious carrot.
Did this bunny bite?
Read on to find out.
Dawg: Yo, this gig is going great guns! I love reading the reports of your visits. It makes me feel like I’m right here with all of you! So I began thinking. What say we go global? Come on, Dude! Think about it. No, do it. Whatever you decide will become our CSR initiative and you will be officially appointed as the (Company Name) Brand Ambassador for this.
This is your project, Dude! Make a plan and let me know!!!
Me: Great stuff, huh? Not so fast, sez me.
CSR? No. I’m still for your PSR.
Brand Ambassador? No. No pictures of me on your website.
Well, I took on the PSR project with you because I really could not resist something so tempting. Sigh! But I ain’t signing on no dotted line, Dawgbert, because like it or not, I am grounded. I’m done with
slavery work related overseas trips.
Hmm. I would like to think that you made me this offer because you think I qualify to take this on. But that’s not why I think you did it. You’re just jealous of the fact that I only traipse around the country on work now whereas you still do those crazy around-the-globe stints.
You know the me-of-old would have seized a juicy challenge like this, but, dear cousin, I am completely unaffected by your dazzling offer because I know you. You are so from the Dilbert world. Fancy shmancy title for blood, sweat and tears disguised as Air Miles. Keep ‘em f…lying miles, Dawg.
Least concerned about his masking his intent, he shamelessly (as ever) returned volley with this cartoon clip.
Still, my PSR work, right here in my own state, is not without its travails. As I wrote above, I meet and interact with the clients who mostly live away from my city. After I meet all of them each month, I send detailed reports to Gun and Dawg.
And then, there’s the accounting. Arrgh!
Me: Attaching the Excel sheet I’ve made for [client’s name] account.
Will send you the estimate for [another mini project] when my head stops hurting. You can work on it when you get back from … Singapore? Finland? Brazil? Japan? Where the heck are you this time, Dawg? Oh, stuff it. Who the eff cares?
Dawg: Dude, I am really cool with you handling this as per your judgment. What I am saying, O Cranky Cuz, is that you don’t need to keel over an Excel sheet with all the itsy bitsy details and then send all those details to me. Keeping me in the loop is good, but not if you tear your hair in the process. Leave Excel and numbers to the accountants, and do what you do best.
Me: You know how to tap into the best of
a slave an employee!
Yes, you’re right. This stuff really freaks me out! I swear, you are the third* and last ‘money donor’ I’m taking on. But I want to do all the accounting myself because one of my big concerns with organisations is transparency/accountability.
*Big Sis was my first ‘money donor’ three years ago. Now Gun and Dawg have joined that club.
Second, I need to keep track myself, although my abacus era methods are foolproof. Then again, I’m the fool, so yeah, no jazzy formulae with me.
Third, Daddy had taught me accounting* and this is my nod to him. Okay, this last one doesn’t make sense. But I feel nice thinking he approves of the colourful stuff in the spreadsheet.
*Daddy was a (Certified Chartered) Accountant.
Thank you, Sekhar Chakrabarti, for permitting the use of your image.
Readers, are any of you (postage) stamp collectors?
Then head over Sekhar Chakrabarti’s blog
peruse your little philatelic hearts out!
I do not think the clients I help Big Sis, Gun and Dude with have the luxury of the second and third sections in the above photograph. I hope that the blessings they receive from my relatives and the time I spend with them help correct that imbalance in some manner.
And so, this is the reason, since the start of this year that I chose to further decrease my publishing schedule to once a month.
Working with Big Sis, Gun and Dawg means I don’t always read your posts upon publication.
It also means I comment far less than I used to. But when I do mouth off, by gad! It’s like I never left, yeah?
Oh, then you wish I would leave?
I can take a hint, people.
Thank you, The Ranting Chef, for signing up to follow my posts.
P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.
I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat!