Thursday, 17 March 2016

The Cost of Complacency

Brian Mendonça

As we entered the school gates the guard -- who was being paid to marshal the entry point and regulate the traffic -- was sitting by the side of the gate reading the newspaper. If an accident should occur it is doubtful it would be traced to the guard’s laxity.

This was peak time when parents were frenetically making the detour (like me) to reach their kid(s) to their classrooms and head for work. Cars were buzzing to and fro from the entrance gate which was located at an intersection where 3 roads met. Little children were walking briskly holding on to their parents’ hands or clutching them for dear life on their scooters.

In January this year 8-year old Riya Kadam died in a swimming pool in a practice session organized by her school – even though there were 3 lifeguards present. Of course, nearer home we still have to nail those responsible for raping a 7-year-old school girl in her own school at Vasco, Headland Sada in 2013.

Despite the proliferation of surveillance equipment there seems to be a lack of will to hold people accountable – however heinous the crime. People, after all, have short memories. 

People grow progressively complacent as they bask in the surety of their job. Instead of using the experience to sharpen the skills they were hired for, they rust, regress and often create conditions detrimental to the organization they work for.

When I go to the graphic designer to view some samples of certificates he puts me on to some teenagers manning the systems. They are having their own chat, pulling each other’s legs, guffawing loudly. They are least bothered in showing me what I need. A non-literate person tries to compose the text for a banner for his restaurant. The lady at the computer nonchalantly types the wrong spellings and seems to resent it when I point them out.

It is necessary to love the job you have. Or else you will only be a pain to others who approach you in good faith. Many times people have no idea how important what they do is to the organization they work for. If they did, they would do their job – however unimportant it may seem – with a sense of pride.

Officer John Parker was detailed to be the bodyguard of Abraham Lincoln. He arrived 3 hours late for his duty. Since he could not see the stage he moved away from Lincoln to a better seat. During the interval he ditched Lincoln to have a drink next door. When the assassin stepped up to Lincoln he saw Parker’s chair empty – and fired the fatal shot.*

Kaizen, the Japanese philosophy -- which turned around Toyota -- advocates continuous change (kai) for the better (zen). The goal is to do better work not just more work.

Sometimes the destiny of a nation rests on our shoulders. Let us rise to be worthy of the call.

*’Lincoln’s Missing Bodyguard’ at; Published in Gomantak Times Weekender St. Inez, Goa on Sunday 13 March 2016. Pix courtesy

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