Your Colleagues are NOT your Friends

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Or maybe they are!

Friendly colleagues

Most organizations are high pressured. The 8-5 thingy is long gone, and for organizations that are still compliant to this timeline, to resume for work at eight means you must have left your home by 7 at the earliest. And if you live in traffic filled Lagos and have to do the Island-Mainland commute, chances are you have to leave your home as early as 5am in some cases and you’re getting home by 8-9pm on a good traffic day. So if you factor in your commute time you see your job isn’t really an 8-5, more like a 4am to 10pm (preparation time included).

For some who are lucky to live in the same neighborhood as their colleagues, carpooling is an option. This in effect will mean you are with your colleagues from as early as 5:30am as the case may be until about 10pm. The argument is; since you spend most of your time at work and with your colleagues, why can’t you be friends with them? Valid question.

The thing however is, the work environment is very competitive and you can only be friends in every sense of the word if you don’t report to the same boss and there is never a reason to compare you both. Which in most organizations with cross functional teams is almost impossible.

I cannot totally rule out office friendships, being that the strength or otherwise of any friendship is dependent on the level of maturity of the parties involved. But the thing with the variety grown in the office is it’s subject to all the roforofo that goes with the office environment. Can you objectively assess your friend (if the relationship is across cadres), or if there’s just a spot to move up as there often is; will you let your friend get it or will your friendship be done in as a result of the competition to move up?

I have a friend which the friendship grew in the office space. Matter of fact a lot of our colleagues couldn’t get over how close the sisterhood grew to be. Not just were we within the same department, we were also from different cultures. We’re no longer colleagues but have remained friends. But some friendships haven’t been so successful. Take the story of Jane and Mary* who were colleagues, friends, and sisters. They both resumed for duty on the same day, their husbands knew each other, and everyone knew them as friends. Until their immediate supervisor resigned and their manager needed to make a decision on who will step into the vacant role. The manager chose to place them on a rotational probation; they took turns being supervisors. Before long, cracks appeared in their relationship. It was obvious a decision will be made one day and each of them wanted the decision to be in their favor. They began competing, each trying to outshine each other and when the decision was made in neither of their favor, the friendship had been ruined.

Like I said earlier, the office environment is one filled with intrigues, drama, competition, etc., and it’s easy to see how friendships will be lost in a bid to get ahead. The male folk tend to be able to manage this things better (guys don’t have wahala). Like someone said to me; ‘if I can’t make friends with my colleagues whom I spend the greater part of my day with, then I won’t have friends’. I agree totally, but with a caveat; remember, you are colleagues first before friends.

This article isn’t meant to scare you off friendly relations with your colleagues, for like every relationship; the work space relationship has its own challenges as well. It’s rather meant to remind you; Your colleagues are NOT your friends.

Have a great day.

xoxo chinma

*Not real name

Conversation: The Price of a Car Ride?

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Hello darlins, how have you been. 

I’ve been MIA a lot of times, I’m sure quite a lot of you have given up on me. E ma binu si mi, ejo!

So, you all know I write based n inspiration, well for a while lady inspiration has gone on a vacation such that I haven’t been able to finish the Breaking the Silence series. (I have faith though, one day I will finish it). 

Rather dear darling Lady inspiration has chosen to gift me with resurrected Random thoughts kind of like the Ms Psyche series of the past. Matter of fact I have a few of this articles in my draft. So I said to myself; I’m just going to post them. Apologies to all ye drama likers (myself inclusive), it’s just not coming, for now. 

So, here you go, I hope you like. Let me know what you think either way.

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We’ve often had to ride with someone; either by carpooling, ride sharing or good old fashioned asking for a ride. On these rides, I gather social norm and expectation is that the least you could do is to converse the driver and co-passengers and enliven the ride.

However, in my rebelling, anti- all things normal mode, I ask: is it compulsory? Must I gist with you because you offered me a ride?

I’m guilty of a lot of projecting, I imagine everyone is, I just am confident enough to say it. I project my thoughts, feelings, reactions to others and I judge that way. I ask myself: what will Chinma do? That helps me have an idea of what the other person will do. I also try to be fair and flexible, making allowances for individual differences and I wonder why others don’t? Like, you should understand when someone isn’t chatty and just let the person be. Don’t come with the amebo-masked-as-concern and be asking leading questions upandan like we’re in an interview session.

I work a busy schedule- 8am to 6pm at the very least, which demands me speaking with people, and moving around the office (or where I need to go), such that at the close of the day I am tired! Bone tired. So the journey to and fro work for me should be a restful one with me relaxing my brain and not having to keep up a conversation. Does that make me antisocial? I don’t think so. If you meet me in my chatty mood, when I’m with my peeps and there’s gist; you will say ‘this girl can talk! Does she ever keep quiet?’ but if you meet me when I don’t have anything to say, you will think ‘this girl is boring’. Lol! All these sides, are all me, the chatty and the moody (or silent). To be honest, more often than not I just want to be with my books, a movie and some music. The chatty side only comes out when I have gist. Most importantly I can’t get why a full grown adult cannot just not talk. Like keep quiet or allow silence sometimes, but that’s a rant an article for another day.

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So, I got thinking on why car rides cannot just be silent. Or we listen to the radio, music, endless options. The radio presents an opportunity for unplanned conversation. Just tune into a talk show, before you know it everyone in the car has joined in on the conversation. No brain work required. Then I heard some people consider this rude! I really truly threw up my hands in surrender at this point.

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I do some of my finest thinking in traffic and if I’m driving, I do not need you to keep me awake or conscious of the road. Thanks, I will do just fine. I was very surprised when a friend said he will not give a ride twice to anyone who doesn’t talk during the first ride. And I was like; bros kilode! It’s just a car ride! And it isn’t just him, I’ve heard people insist that sharing a ride and not chatting is rude. This summation has me wearing my rebellious hat again! I don’t require conversation when I’m driving, why should you require it of me when I’m a passenger in your car? It’s so annoying that some days I wish for the anonymity of public transport.

And that brings me to another point of confusion: the chatty taxi drivers! Like ahn ahn that’s the height of the whole thing! Don’t get me wrong; I have had one very good experience chatting with an Uber driver, but other than that, please let’s keep the ride as silent as possible. This is not because I don’t find the driver a worthy conversation partner, but because I like my peace and quiet during car rides. Thank you very much.  I once rode with a driver whom I noticed was sleepy; I calmly reached into my bag and offered him chewing gum. No long story, no chit chat to keep him awake; and he didn’t sleep again.

The funny thing is; I think this conversation-in-car thingy is like everything else we have come to accept as a norm. The belief that you have to make conversation during a car ride has been passed down from generation to generation such that it’s become the norm and we who do not find it necessary are the abnormal ones.

Maybe it’s because I’m a big believer in self-sufficiency and not depending on another (not being overly dependent that is), I just think the whole expected conversation being the price of a car ride or like it’s widely believed; contribution towards an enjoyable ride is a bit …… I don’t know; unfair, unrealistic, un-something….  

So, what do you think, is not keeping up conversation in a car ride sacrilegious as some think, or is it just ok. What are your preferences?

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*Images credit: Google.com

Breaking the Silence: The Situationship

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……….After taking the call, Adaeze’s mom called herself and her siblings and broke the news to them; their father was dead.

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Then the drama began, we all know in Igbo land an African man cannot die a natural death; someone has to be responsible for it.

His family came with the drama; they alleged his wife and children abandoned him and contributed to his death.

It didn’t matter that he had abandoned them as children and didn’t contribute a dime to their upkeep or education. He was their father and that meant they owed him the duty of care.

It didn’t matter that they were mourning the death of a father they never had, all of that didn’t matter; in Africa it rarely does.

It was in times like this Adaeze asked herself if all the pre-wedding fact finding actually makes sense. Because if with all the fact finding people still end up married into horrible families; what’s the point?

Then came the sympathy and the sympathisers, it felt awkward, almost hypocritical.

The period was a difficult one for all involved, the antics of the father’s people didn’t make it any easier. Mrs. Chukwuemeka had to relieve the pain of the separation all over again; accusations flew all over mainly centered on abandonment. Mr. Chukwuemeka’s people were having a field day.

Then came the story peddlers with their false story telling; they said Mrs. Chukwuemeka abandoned her husband because he lost his job and could no longer cater for his family.

In a world where history is written by the loudest voice there also is the belief in silence being golden. Why do we hush our children when they attempt to express themselves, why do we perpetuate the culture of repression with only a few speaking up, and them carrying the day eventually? It’s in every aspect of our culture, we glorify the silence of the multitude and praise or envy the outspoken few. Lol. Some of the most loved and hated celebrities come to mind.

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You know that feeling of being surrounded by people yet alone? Adaeze felt it deeply at this time.

Chike; her boyfriend (or so she thought) was the first person she called to share the news with. He didn’t answer his call at the time; no surprise there, Chike had an annoying phone habit; he was always on the phone but never with his phone when you needed to reach him. So she sent him a whatsapp message. He called hours later. Asked all the questions, said all the needed things and killed it with; “Let me see if I can come?”

That saddened Adaeze. It was a Saturday, what was he doing asides hanging with friends? Could he not see she needed him?

He sent a message later; he couldn’t make it!

Absence makes the heart fonder is a big lie! A more accurate maxim is; nature hates vacuum, or out of sight is out of mind! The next day she was on her way from church when he sent a message asking what time she would be home. She replied with an ‘I don’t know’ for at that point she was upset already. What was he coming to do; to comfort her? If her comfort was dependent on him she would probably be in perpetual mourning.

He called. She ignored the first call, he called back. She repeated the same thing her message said.

‘I’m trying to find time to come and you are being difficult. Just tell me when you will be home?’ He had said clearly exasperated.

Not wanting to get into an argument with him at the time, she ended the call.

He sent a message; ‘Don’t ever end the call on me again.’

Lol! She was done, and this time for good. How Chike could make this difficult time she was in about himself was beyond her. He was always doing that. She had known him for two years and in those two years he had never been there for her. Theirs was the classic situationship where he took all she could give but gave little or nothing.

Birthdays, other joyful moments; he always made excuses. Traffic, something came up, illness, all this were excuses he used to avoid being there for her. Whereas the reverse was the case with her. She was there for him when he sneezed, every event, occasion during their two years; if she knew about it, she would be there. And it wasn’t just her praising herself, he had also attested to it.

She remembered how they met, it was through a joint venture their companies had. In reality, she has been the one to chat him up. Maybe that was where the issue lay. It’s no secret most guys can’t handle being propositioned. Maybe that was why he had never valued her or their relationship. Theirs was a relationship that had never been defined. They weren’t even friends with benefits for they was nothing to benefit from it. They were more or less sexual partners or in a ‘situationship’ for lack of a better word. Well, whatever the case; she was done. Really truly done. For two years she couldn’t think of a 3 month stretch when they were together, but there were stretches that long where they were apart.

What she couldn’t understand was why he didn’t want to let her go. He had said to her severally that she annoyed him but every time she tried to break it off, he refused. This wasn’t the first time she had tried to end the relationship but he always refused. Well. She was done, he just didn’t know it yet.

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He came by 3 weeks later. He came with a mutual friend. She ignored him. Ain’t no time for rubbish. It was a Saturday and her family was home so that helped to mask her ignoring him. Adaeze didn’t care though! A week later he sent a message asking if her ignoring him when he came to her house was good. And I’m her mind she was like; ‘I hope this young man is ok’?

Like really he couldn’t see anything wrong with his actions? That must be done serious shit. She ignored the message. It was a whatsapp message so he will be able to tell it had been read but she wasn’t going to respond to it. 2 weeks later he sent another message that he was in the neighborhood and could he stop by?

‘Okay.’ She had responded.

If only he had left it at that. If only he hadn’t tried to push by asking if she will talk to him this time if he came to her house. For that was when she snapped!

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Let’s Talk About This Thing Called Karma…

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Image result for karma

Karmathe spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect). It’s that principle/ law that is invoked when something similar to what has been dished by a person befalls the person (usually of the horrible kind). It’s akin to the biblical principle of doing unto others as you want to be done to you.

So, say Mabel snatches Bisi’s husband; Kunle, the law of Karma dictates that Kunle will also be snatched from Mabel and she gets to feel Bisi’s pain. We’re all familiar with the way karma works and we are quick to invoke and cite it when this things occur. Cue Branjelina divorce and Wendy Williams’ ecstatic; you lose them how you get them!

However, there are somethings unclear to me about karma. Like; where does it begin and where will it end? The parties used by karma, how are they selected, are they unwilling tools or people who have their own share of karma coming up and are used to further the cause? Does karma always repay like for like or does retribution sometimes come in another form?

Let’s consider my questions:

Where does karma begin and where does it end? With Mabel and Bisi’s example above; did the trail of terrible happenstances begin with Mabel snatching Kunle or is Mabel a tool in the universe serving Bisi her own dose of karma? When the latter is the case and we cannot justify why a man will walk away from a woman as wonderful as Bisi; we blame it on bad judgement, we explain it away that good things happen to bad people or good old jazz. But if we can find even the slightest hint of Bisi having done same to another woman in the past we happily hi-five the universe! Karma is a bitch and it knows everyone’s address! Lol. So, if indeed the bad cycle began with Mabel, where will it end? If Mabel is able to lock down the man and he doesn’t get snatched do we conclude that karma has run its course or can the trail continue to the next generation or perhaps to people around her? If you ask me……..

Let’s move on to the parties in karma; how are they selected; are they unwilling tools in the hands of the universe or people who have their own share of karma coming up? If they are mere pawns in the game of life what happens to them afterwards? After they have been used to punish the deserving person do they then get punished? Because most likely they would have committed the sin offence for which the other person was punished. Let’s look at a character like Lucious Lyon (the original evil genius); when karma will come calling for Lucious, unless the vessel is a Lucious clone I think the person should get a medal of honor. Lol! Taking Lucious down should be a good deed, a fast-track to sainthood! Seriously, they should be no retribution for whoever brings him down, but the way I see it you cannot achieve that wearing white hats. You have to be as sneaky, or worse than he is to take him out. Hence my plea for freedom from karma for the vessel used in taking him down. Bringing Lucious down should actually be considered restitution for even the worst offender. I’m sure some of us will feel I’m obsessing over a fictional character so much but they are a lot of Lucious’ out there who continue to evade karma while everyone around him suffers, and like the saying goes; every day for the thief…….. When that day comes for people like Mr. Lyon, I hope karma stops there!

My final question on karma for this article is; does it always repay like with like. Similar payback for similar transgressions. Like if you steal, your karma is you will be stolen from, or will karma pay you back in more stringent measures? Who gets to decide? Is there a weighing scale or does karma serve as it pleases?

Oh, and here’s another question I have on karma; say a person has been a horrible person in the past and has a change of character; faith based or otherwise. How do you escape karma? Using Mabel and Bisi’s example above; let’s say in a few years, after a few children, Mabel changes; acknowledges her wrong, will an apology to Bisi and perhaps the whole world suffice to erase karma’s memory or what? How does she evade or assuage karma?

So let’s discuss. I would like some clarifications on this thing called Karma and how it acts. Is there a manual that can be studied so as to avoid it or is it an: you know it when you see it thingy?

PS: The Mabel-Bisi-Kunle illustration is to point out how karma acts in certain circumstances and is not about Kunle being a grown man who can or cannot be snatched. Let’s not get into that.

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Karma Image Credit: Shutterstock

Altered Vows: All The Episodes

Altered Vows- Till Death….. | http://bit.ly/1qZl7NF

Altered Vows: All My Worldly Goods….. | http://bit.ly/1nFXZUi

Altered Vows: With My Body…. E1 http://bit.ly/1rDJelm

Altered Vows: With My Body….. E2 http://bit.ly/1kKsKVP

Altered Vows: With My Body…. E3 http://bit.ly/QHmox9

Altered Vows: A Chance For Redemption http://bit.ly/1jqlIrz

Altered Vows: A Chance For Redemption (Final Episode) http://bit.ly/1mugo55