I realise that there is a very tired old saying about small problems and mosquitoes; one that’s become trite and results in eye-rolling. But last night there was a mosquito in my room (I maintain: more than one), and it was well annoying.
The mosquito (let’s call him Henry) only arrived after the lights had been turned off. Typically. So I turned the lights back on and stalked the room. I eventually located him floating around in a corner of the room, where he nimbly avoided both my pillows. He then danced across the ceiling, which left me following along beneath him, trying to keep him in my line of sight while also attempting to position my desk chair by feel, climb up onto it, and then leap at the ceiling with my death-delivering right hand.
Then he disappeared. And despite nearly falling off the chair (it has wheels), I kind of hoped that my last run at the ceiling had got him. Obviously, I knew I hadn’t. But he’d disappeared just at that point, so it was this kind of wistful pleading with the Universe.
So I went back to bed and tried to fall asleep. Although, I was mostly straining to hear the distant whining of Henry on the return. And just at the cusp of sleep, he circled down toward my ear.
Strategy shift: I quietly eased my left arm from under the blankets and poised it for landing. He landed. I struck. Silence. Then he whirred off.
After three failed attempts to catch him by presenting my face as bait, I turned on the fan, because breeze does seem to keep the Henries at bay. Only, my fan is more of a gale force; so I was left in the awkward position where under the blankets was too hot, and outside of the blankets was too chilly. And then it gave me a headache. So I turned the fan off.
Then Henry came back.
So I turned the fan on.
Then the headache came back.
So I finally just sprayed my room with Doom and then couldn’t breathe.
50 minutes later, my alarm went off, so I made coffee then sat down to write this post.
And I thought to myself No, that quote is so so wrong. It shouldn’t be “Anyone that thinks they are too small to make a difference has never tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room.” It should be: “Anyone that thinks that small problems are easier to deal with has never been in bed with a mosquito.”
The Big Problems Are Easy
I’m not saying that they’re easy to solve: but they’re easy to identify, they’re always in sight, and you usually have to deal with them head on. Or you die. Or your business dies. Something like that.
But The Small Stuff…
Just look at the amount of effort and time that was expended on that damn mosquito. I tried multiple solutions. I tried to pretend that the problem wasn’t there. I actually risked some serious injury (leaping off chair with swivel casters is a recipe for broken bone). And my eventual solution involved a small ingestion of poison.
Farewell some brain cell.
Life Epiphany Aside
Henry did make me think about the types of mosquito in the workplace. You know – those small annoyances that take up so much time and cause so much disruption because you just don’t realise how hard they are to fix.
And as any regular reader will know, I love a post with lists.
The Minor Irritations That Seem To Escalate
1. Over-Enthusiastic Cleaning Staff
You know the story – cleaning staff are background noise. After the first three days, you filter them out. And then they just float until they ask you to move your chair. Which you do with great sighs of frustration.
But there they are, in the background, sweeping and mopping around plug points. And network connections. And servers.
Do any of my Cape Town friends remember the Koeberg power station shutdown that was rumoured to be the result of a bolt swept into a turbine?
Yes. All in the background. And you just can’t understand why you keep having network problems. And why your IT calls are so frequent.
2. Underpaid Receptionists
The first voice your customer hears. And it’s angry and disinterested.
It’s like the silent mosquito. The one that’s giving you malaria. And you don’t know it’s there, you’re just getting ill.
3. The Constant Complainers
Nothing like a malcontent to really get a union riled. And the trouble is that they’re cancerous – because whining spreads.
4. Broken Telephones
When it all gets lost in communication. And time gets wasted putting the stories back together.
5. And Finally, Bad Coffee
Because this is always a bad thing.
Like ingesting a small amount of poison.