It was supposed to be what one would have called a ‘done deal.’ You have had quite lengthy discussions and reached that proverbial ‘unanimous decision.’ (Somehow too many nerves in your anatomy make their presence felt in all the wrong ways when you hear about some ‘unanimous decisions,’ don’t they? Believe me there is nothing wrong with you. It’s only that had this world been such a beautiful place of people agreeing on the same thing we wouldn’t have been in the place we’re in. Come with some idea that the sun comes overhead at noon. Do yourself some good, don’t be surprised if there are a few dissenting voices. “What! That’s old stuff. You people are stuck in some old nonsense. It’s only illusion!” How about that!
Say you and some other people are launching some project you’ve been laboring on for months. You don’t only agree how to go about it, you agree with all the passion you can muster. So having agreed to everything there is no reason to lose sleep over any concern or worry. Within six months, so you guys are sure, the change would be total. “I can’t believe the rapid changes I see in you! This is nothing short of a miracle; some angel must have kissed you.” wouldn’t such compliments’ carry to cloud eleven or some place as enticing.
Then when everything seems nice and dandy a plot twist Ludlum would have envied happens. You’re told they have called off the whole thing. Just like that!
“What do you mean you’ve called off everything?”
“Well we went over the whole thing and decide that it’s not a good idea.”
“Not a good idea! We’ve been going over it and for months and you tell me now it’s not a good idea! What about all the time, energy and money we put into the project!” Hey, take it easy, ok! Just for the sake of throwing a word or two this is not a world where everybody keeps their word.
Years back there was this craze in town. Share companies cropped up with speed like you never have seen before. People you know right and left were either forming one or buying shares in another. But then, not that there are any credible studies, the talk was eight out of them seem to fall on the wayside usually in their early days of formation. In the case of some, shares were there for the taking, so members of ‘organizing committees’ thought. In fact, it is said many so-called organizers didn’t go to the nearest bank with the money; they headed for the airport or the borders.
“A few weeks back you told me you bought shares in that new company.”
“Yes, I did buy the minimum number of shares. Are you planning to do so, too?”
“No, but I’ve news for you.”
“You’re going to tell me everybody was buying shares. You know, I thought about it deeply before deciding this was the company for me. Didn’t you hear it is led by some of the most trustworthy persons?”
“No, I didn’t hear that; but I heard a different story.”
“What different story?”
“I just heard the organizers have disappeared.”
“What do you mean they have disappeared?”
“They’ve fled the country with the money.”
And you thought despite the ten thousand birr minimum shares the very feeling that you‘re a shareholder would give you that air of importance. In fact, the talk within family circles would be something like, “Our boy’s a shareholder.”
“One of us our own a shareholder! This calls for celebrations.” And the front row sit is yours without even asking. And what do the most trustworthy people do; they disappear with your money!
Your boss promises to give all of you quite hefty raise if you worked your &*% off making his company more profitable. You guys do just that. And by the year’s end he planned to get some five or seven million birr and he makes almost double that. The staff hears the details even before the auditors themselves are aware. “Our company made thirteen million more!” And when you use the term ‘our company,’ you really meant it. I mean when the checks come you’ve to convince yourself had it not been for you, your boss would be still polluting the city’s air with that car of his which is so old no one could tell what company assembled it.
Come the first payday of the new fiscal year and, make sure you hold on to the nearest chair, your pay is the same! That day your company would look like some alien land where no one could talk. The curse has fallen, ‘Curse be upon you company workers who took your boss for his word and ended up speechless; Where do you think you are, in the Garden of Eden? You’re on the queerest of all planets called Earth and that’s what you get.
Just try a few of you getting together and demanding answers from your boss.
“Sir, you promised to give us raises but…”
“But what?” All of a sudden he’s transformed into some hungry lion right out of some National Geographic documentary.
“Sir, they paid us the same…”
“Aha, now I get it! You guys think this company is your personal property, don’t you? Well let me tell you a story, you are employees paid for your services. That’s all.” That’s when the “our company” phrase you used through much of the year returns to haunt you.
“Sir, does t it mean we’ll not get raises?”
“Bravo! You just hit the nail on the head. The company’s coffers have dried out. Where the hell am I to get the money to give you raises?”
“But sir when we talked some seven months back you told us the opposite.”
“Really!” he sneers.
“Sir, but we heard the company made thirteen million more than it used to.”
“Oh, so now you’ve started spying into our finances. Tell you what, your behavior must be addressed and you’ll get the letters in the next few days. I’m finished.”
This time the boss would keep his word; you’d each be fined hundreds of birr for demanding your rights.
So this is not a world where you can fully feel confident that people or even companies and organizations would keep their word; it’s not the nice world you think it is!
THE ETHIOPIAN SUNDAY EDITION 16 JANUARY 2022