The Problem With South Africa Is A Dirty Teaspoon

In our office at Cerebra there is a sink. One of the shiny silver ones. Unlike most offices, our kitchen is in the open, not hidden behind a door, and is often the social hub of our little space. So it’s important that it stays clean.

Unfortunately, it never does. It starts off clean, mind you. But then I glance over and there’s a couple of spoons and a peanut buttered fork and a bowl. Moments later there are six mugs and a plate with chicken juice and fat on it. Left alone, it’s a grimy, mould-infested cesspool.

The strange thing is, I don’t work with idiotic, careless people. I pretty much like and in many cases love so many of the people I work with. So I don’t think they’re dodgy luddites who enjoy squalor. And yet, given half a chance, our shiny centre-piece of a kitchen turns into a dump in a heartbeat.

So what makes mostly good, mostly neat, mostly considerate people accept an absolute heap?

I figured it out this morning.

It takes one teaspoon. One effing, dirty teaspoon.

A shiny, sparkling sink doesn’t get messed up. But the moment one person is lazy – the moment one person puts their own wellbeing before the needs of everyone else – that shiny sink is headed one way. We have an agreement to prevent this, encouraging our staff to place dirty dishes under the sink in the cupboard until our cleaner gets in. But that requires effort. That requires putting the whole team before me.

When someone puts a spoon in the sink, it’s not longer shiny and perfect. It’s not longer clean. Then it’s exponentially easier to add your spoon, bowl, plate, chicken frikkin’ bone or whatever without feeling guilty, because:

  • “Someone else did it first”
  • “I’m not the only one”
  • “A spoon is not nearly as bad a mug”

I’ve realised no sensible person in their right minds puts a chicken carcass in a clean sink. But they will if it’s already full of shit. It’s not long after someone innocently pops a teaspoon in, that a carcass follows.

The problem with our country lies not in the carcasses in the sink, but the individuals who think it’s ok to drop a dirty teaspoon in. It’s in the laziness of the few. Those of us who are considered ourselves privileged, hang around at braais, drink nice wine, comment on sport and the government and the economy and how bad everything is looking. How we don’t feel safe. How it’s all going to the dogs. And then we go home and cheat on our taxes, treat our staff badly, skip a red robot, speed down the freeway, treat other human being as lesser creatures.

Get rid of the teaspoons in the sink, and nobody would dare put a carcass there.


17 thoughts on “The Problem With South Africa Is A Dirty Teaspoon

  1. In the same way Rudy Giuliani’s first act in dealing with crime in New York was to get police to crack down on so called ‘Minor Infractions’ like jaywalking. Once the populations realises that minor offences will not be tolerated, society changes and more serious offences become less tolerated as well.

  2. Oh my word, this is more than brilliant. You should publish it and it should hang next to the posters of employment act and basics conditions of work act, in every workplace.

  3. Nail on the head. 100% with you. It’s exactly that. We gotta start cleaning up our own dirt bit by bit, as a matter of urgency….. take responsibility (why don’t they teach how to do that at school?)

  4. I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that people rationalize their bad behavior by telling themselves ‘everyone does it’ For things to change it requires not only for people to be more disciplined but for structures to be less willing to accept poor conduct. You mentioned speeding down the Freeway, well if the person was pulled over by a traffic cop the likelihood is that you could simply pay a bribe and leave without suffering any real consequences other than a bruised ego and a lighter wallet. Until people realize there are consequences for their actions nothing will change, we sadly can’t rely on the charity of the human spirit as it is in short supply these days.

  5. I agreed whole-heartedly until the last part when you said it’s up to us to stop speeding and cheating on taxes. While you and I should obviously do those things, I don’t believe that we will solve the broader problems of our country from the bottom up. We need to vote for leaders who will stop leaving their dirty spoons (or worse), and that will filter down to the whole population.

    Parents, coaches, CEO’s, captains – everywhere else in life the tone is set by the top, and the rest follow, and the same applies for a country.

  6. Pingback: World Briefing | Africa: Tunisia: Party Names Premier Candidate | Acbnews International.Africa`s # 1...To get your brand exposure to 47+ counties/countries in Kenya & Africa
  7. Pingback: Obama issues advice to Kenyans for elections. | Acbnews International.Africa`s # 1...To get your brand exposure to 47+ counties/countries in Kenya & Africa
  8. Pingback: Celebrating the Kenyan Story:Kenyans await election results | Acbnews International.Africa`s # 1...To get your brand exposure to 47+ counties/countries in Kenya & Africa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

What Clients Say...

Mike was the keynote speaker at the 2015 Discovery IT Conference. Without exception, the delegates were highly complimentary of his presentation style and his insights into the challenges and opportunities associated with the era of social business and digital transformation.

His views are highly recommended to all businesses (new and old alike).

I saw Mike speak at 3rd Annual Discovery IT Conference.

Mike has spoken at a number of our IMC Conference events in JHB and CPT. We do extensive post event reviews from our delegates and Mike always performs in the top tier of speakers. His presentation skills are world class and the content always relevant to our conference theme and delegates expectations.
Mike Rocks!

I saw Mike speak at IMC Conference.

Accenture had to opportunity to collaborate with Mike on an engaging panel discussion on Digital Disruption as part of the inaugural Social Media Week 2014. Mike’s expert opinion on Social Media / Digital and its implications for businesses and government as they seek to remain relevant in this digital era was extremely well received!

I saw Mike speak at Social Media Week.