Gone too soon

They say stress kills. A man at my work place died today, at the age of 50 something. He’s left behind a wife and children, but the work still goes on without him. My condolences go out to the family, such a great loss to them.

It appears to have been a heart attack. I heard the man worked practically 7 days a week and I am sure he has a bucket load of annual leave left.

It is very common here for people to work long hours and work over the weekend. I don’t know if I am entitled to a mobile phone but I have not pushed the subject because it only gives people the opportunity to think that I am on call 24-7. I have told everyone that this is my personal line and if they want to call me for a chat, that it all well and good but I am not going to answer this phone because of a business call.

People are gutted here, they say the man was selfless, you could call him on the weekend and tell him that a truck was on its way to the factory and he would come out of his house to deal with it. Now the man is gone, all because he allowed work to take over his life and the expense of his family and friends. The job, well, I am sure that if there is not a replacement already there will be by Monday and all he would have got to show for his hard work is a poster with a picture and the caption “Gone too soon”.

One thing I admire about England is that they work hard but they relax just as hard. A friend of mine used to go abroad 2 or 3 times a week. One English holiday (Devon or something), one Europe holiday (Spain, Turkey or one of those destinations where the booze would flow and the party never stopped) and then one long haul trip (Dubai, Vegas, Jamaica…). I probably did one or two year, Ghana every 2 years and a short break every year. Even my dad took a month out and hid away in his village in Ghana every single year before he retired and he would do a couple of short weekends or a trip to the US.

We are supposed to work to live, but often especially here in Ghana, you end up living to work. First there is the traffic so you end up getting here before 7 if you want to avoid the traffic. You leave late at night for the same reason, then there is this fear that if you are not on call 24 hours a day you might get the sack (and you may well do if it is a small one-man band of a business). It is that slave mentality that never went away, but this time, we put it on ourselves.

When we get sick, we go to the pharmacy get some drugs and suck it up. Most of the time we think it’s malaria (and to be fair most t doctors diagnose you as that before even examining you). The pharmacy too, well only a small percentage of those that own it have a qualified pharmacist on hand so I could give you better medical advice then them.

With all that, there is the stress at home. Most if they depend solely on their salary have the rent to deal with (which you have to pay at least 2 years in advance). The kids school fees, everyday items and well we are a nation that wants to keep up with the joneses so it’s Accra Mall, ice-cream and all the imported stuff from America for the wife and kids.

If you’re a man, most of the burden falls to you, and with a salary that just about covers the basic salary they can just afford a beer on a Friday night let alone a trip to the States. There are lovely places to visit here though saying that, but where is the time when you are working more or less 24-hours a day.
If it was in the States and you were feeling down, you could take a “personal day” or a mental day, here though, the only mental day you could request is if you were literally mental just because they were trained to be that way.

So you end up spending all your time working, whether rain or shine, in sickness and in health, until if you are lucky you get to retirement.

If you are not lucky, you get a poster, and a gone too soon, meanwhile the work still goes on without you. So had you had taken that day off to relax, would the company have not been able to function?
My work life balance, it could be better but that is due to my limitation in funds as opposed to not switching off from work mode. I really don’t want to give anyone the chance to come have a drink up at my funeral so I come into work do what I have to do, and at the end of the day, even if it means getting stuck in a bit of traffic. I am out of here, I take my black but to my house and make sure that I get the sufficient amount of sleep. Why, because I don’t want to give anyone a chance to come and drink free at my funeral just because I let it take over my life.

I have also vowed to myself that even if I have to starve for a few days, I am going to save my money and take myself out of here for a couple of weeks every year because trust me a holiday is good for the soul.
You need to work to live people not work to live. I am not saying not to work hard, you are paid to do a service and get paid for providing it, but it should not be the be all and end all of your being. At the end of the day, the company has been here for more years than you and will likely to be running way after you are gone. So enjoy the life you live, it only comes but once after all.

About efiasworld

A British Born Ghanaian navigating her way through life.
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4 Responses to Gone too soon

  1. Vida Akrofie says:

    Spot on. You’ve done it again. I share your sentiment. I’ve been doing exactly what you said in your piece. I had to do a radical lifestyle change to enable me take breaks whenever I felt like it and my friends thought I was crazy. But I said I’d rather be crazy and alive than dead. I totally agree with what you are saying. Kudos to you for highlighting this issue


  2. Dee says:

    Oh, we so need to make the most of everyday.


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