Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Stay At Home. Go Do Your Work

I am always easily confused when people find good logic and a good answer then do not follow it. It's plagued me a lot over the past few weeks. Do all the hard work, then mess up at the finish.

Some people keep wondering--not in the nicest of terms, including ones last heard uttered in anger after my football studs got a goalkeeper just under his waist line--why I do not go and offer advice to Jamaica, and its ailing economy and self-destructive social misfits, rather than stay here in Barbados and gush with ideas. For me, the operative words are 'go' and 'offer'.

However it occurred--and Al Gore said it was all his idea--we no longer need to 'go' to many places to 'offer' our services. We can stay where we are and connect electronically. (Even people selling goods can show off the items very well through a web camera hook-up.) I'm often 'at home' with my Dad in Jamaica, while he looks out on his veranda and I look out onto mine--the joy of Skype--and we spend not a penny for the pleasure. His stroke prevents much travel and I have other obligations here in Bimshire.I thought the uses of teleconferencing or teleworking were blindingly obvious, but maybe they need stating. I've been using them for about 10 years now.

The new technological advancements are such that I do not even need to show up at another place to get paid: PayPal or wire transfer or some other electronic transfer can get me my dosh. I can similarly make payments online. In fact, those aspects alone would encourage me to stay put. If I take my Barbados-issued Scotiabank ATM card with me to Jamaica, well that's it for money withdrawals, bredrin. Why? Barbados has exchange controls and that denies me access to my B$ account, even though funds could easily be transferred through the same banking structure. So, why pay airfare, suffer airport delays, risk getting swine flu from contact with British tourists, run the risk of being mugged in Kingston, only to find that the Minister (or central bank Governor) has left for Washington and that I need to come back after their return? "Im soon come back, im did seh." I understand Jamaican patois--no translation needed. Go home and get on with your work.

I can also just click, order, pay online, and wait for delivery right at my door. You have to love Amazon.com, UPS, FedEx and DHL.

The other bothersome little kernel is about to whom I offer advice. I also thought that multitasking was standard, even though recent studies show that it's not as effective to do lots of things as to do only a few. It seems to some people that if I am giving advice to Barbados that I somehow cannot also be giving advice to anyone else. Well, hello! The consultants I know often do a cut and past and just search for country X and replace with country Y. What a wheeze! Two reports for the cost of one, and two pay checks. Nice one, Cyril!

I am convinced that these two 'afflictions'--the need to go to a place to function and the ability to only do one thing at a time--are not rare. In fact, they are very common in this region. My wife is often having teleconferences with colleagues in the US, but she then zips to the airport to fly to a supposedly nearby island for an hour's meeting. Dearest? So, she gets out of bed at 5.30am. She spends three hours at the airport before departing--delays are routine with LIAT. Then, she has a meeting at noon. She returns to airport for afternoon flight. Three hours wait--delays, of course--and that is without the fun of a transit through Antigua--the Gulag of LIAT. She arrives home at 11pm. "Honey, do you still love me?" she whispers a she slips into bed. I send her a text message later the next morning.

If I ask her about this, she tends to give me the "Yu madda backside" sort of reply about how she has to see X and talk with Y and give B this document. I then say, "Whatever" and go back to the veranda and get on with my work. The hum of the fan is better than the beat of the propeller; and I get food and drink not box juice and chips.

I uttered a quep (expression of derision--benefit of Scrabble played online) early this morning as I read the latest shrill calls to just pick you Georgie bundle and high tail it out of here, nuh man

I heard a man on the radio here several months ago, complaining about the traffic and how it cost him hours, etc. He then said how one morning he decided to stay home and work via his computer. Wow! No stress. Much work done. No traffic jam. If his wife had been home, who knows? Nappies in the dryer now? The next day, back again on the old routine. I wrote to the papers to point out that the man had the solution right there...telecommute.

Now, it's not all upside. If you are the philandering type and usually do that in the office or on business trips, you need to remember where you are when you are working, and have your alibi well worked out, when your wife decides that today she too will telecommute. But, I wont dwell on that sort of thing. I'm pushing one idea. Stay home. Get productive. "Minette, please pass me the mango."

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