the hole in the wall…was created by the boss himself


I was briefly taken aback at the photo in Tuesday’s The New Vision of a clock in Parliament that Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah had ordered be taken down because it was telling the wrong time.

The photo was in two parts – one depicting the errant clock, and the other showing a gaping hole where said errant clock stood before attracting the irritation of the Deputy Speaker, followed by swift action on the part of the Parliamentary Clock Remover. 

I wasn’t taken aback because of the action taken or that it was ludicrous for a clock showing the wrong time to be removed to a place unknown for any considerable period of time rather than for a battery to be replaced with one hand as the other hand distracts New Vision photographers who might be on hand to capture the moment.

I was taken aback by the result – a gaping hole in the wall, created by the boss himself!

And I seek not to point blame at the Honourable Deputy Speaker for creating an ugly hole in the wall – but at those parliamentary staff whose pay grade is specifically designed to tackle such problems.

The clock-hole-in-the-wall took me to my own kitchen where a similar clock, probably of a much cheaper variety than the Parliamentary one, is mounted. This clock began telling the wrong time back in November, and my eleven-year old, who is particular about such things, kept throwing hints and suggestions till one day she declared loudly to me that “someone” should fix it.

So I whipped out one of my recycled batteries and ‘fixed’ it, while remarking to the kitchen staff that this really should have been their job.

Two days later, the clock had both seized up and ceased to operate, and this time my daughter suggested that we take it down altogether. I looked to my wife briefly to judge the sentiments around the clock, and a quick mental calculation told me more peace would result in my leaving the clock in position than taking it down.

But I still felt that the domestic staff should be the ones to change the battery, so this time I sat back.

The result? A clock that is only correct two times a day – at a quarter past seven in the morning, and again in the evening.

Until Tuesday morning, it hadn’t occurred to me that the alternative result of this matter being handled by the Chief Executive would have been a hole in the wall. (To be honest, I would have replaced it with another wall hanging of much higher quality, but that is a whole different story)

But I was jolted into changing the battery (using one of about 24 new dry cells I constantly have in stock for similar domestic emergencies) and within thirty seconds (including the time it took to take the clock down and put it back up) had things back in order.

For three months, though, I may have appeared odd to anyone who went through that house at any time other than a quarter past seven (morning or evening), and maybe to my staff who may have thought that I was beginning to lose “it”.

Yet it was them, the staff, who looked odd to me (unsurprisingly) for not taking up the responsibility of changing that battery at any time during the many hours they spend in and around that house, earning monthly wages to maintain neatness and order.

After putting the clock back up in working order, I realised that perhaps I had played into their hands – maybe their inaction was a tactic to cause me to do what they should have done?

But then, mind-boggling as it was, could the Hon. Jacob Oulanyah have been doing the same but vice versa – fixing the situation so badly so that the people responsible feel so awkward that they step forward to do it properly themselves? 

Yeah – you get dizzy after a while, thinking about this too much. It’s much simpler for everyone to just do their damn jobs and do them properly – including the Parliamentary Clock Fixer.

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