Business Analysis Lessons from Cancer Diagnosis: Personal Stories from the 1st Quarter of 2016

By Awe Oludayo, PMP, CBAP

Prologue

The Doctor’s face betrayed no emotion as he listened thoughtfully while constantly checking the previous test results on the Computer screen in front of him. He spoke gently, and tried to crack jokes on few occasions. Another battery of tests were recommended (including MRI), and the Doctor recommended that the test be carried out in another location. As plans were being made to go for the recommended tests, I was pulled aside by a relative and got the most shocking news of the year. “From all indications, it is most likely cancer”. My heart sank!

Introduction

The term “silver lining in a dark cloud” probably has no meaning until one life-changing event. While it is so easy to learn from other people’s experience; it is so critical to draw valuable lessons from happenings to self. While a few of us may have control over the shape and turnings of life, it is common knowledge that everybody can determine the final outcome of a situation by how we react to unexpected (and usually unpalatable) events.

The year started on a great note; I was looking forward to many things. Of note among them being the farm (on the outskirt of the city), and the CBAP Certification Paper Based Testing (the first of its kind in the world). Many of the candidates went through our training program, including my wife (who has been preparing for the exam for almost one year). I was intrigued by the prospects of increasing the number of CBAP certification holders in Nigeria, I knew it was difficult for every candidate to pass but I was hopeful majority will scale through. The exam day passed with little drama, and I was back to my base awaiting the release of the results.

The Phone Call

I was out visiting with my Wife, when I got a disturbing phone call; a very close family member (let me give the name “Ruf” to this family member) has lost the use of his two legs. Immediately, my mind went into over-drive, trying hard to make sense of the news. I excused myself and went over to see things for myself.

“Ruf” had been undergoing treatment for a “not too serious & fairly common condition”, only to discover that he was being treated (few weeks earlier) based on wrong diagnosis.  Naturally we assumed that “Ruf” inability to walk may have been caused by the wrong treatment ( “Ruf” received  26 injections during the course of this wrong treatment!), but that line of thought was shattered by the event relayed in the prologue.  It took two days to get the test result, and the Doctor’s hunch was confirmed. It was cancer and it had spread to the spine!

 The 1st Lesson: Assumption is cheap but its consequence can be expensive

The Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK V2) defines assumption as “any unsubstantiated fact”, a fact (or knowledge) that is yet to be put to the rigor of a test to determine its veracity. Assumptions can turn out to be right or wrong, however, basing a decision on assumptions alone is tantamount to gambling. Where an analyst must make decision based on assumptions alone, a proper risk analysis must be conducted to determine what will happen if the assumptions turn out to be false.

It is bad enough that “Ruf” has been put through weeks of treatments based on some Doctors assumption. We were almost giving in to the assumption that “Ruf” inability to walk was due to the wrong treatment before the MRI test stated otherwise!

The 2nd Lesson: A superb Team will triumph a Super-star

One of the first things I had to do is to deal with my fears; fear incapacitates and blurs our vision to the possibilities that exists. Fear makes failure and defeat look imminent and victory like a long-shot. I know medical research will not be of help, so I turned to my faith to deal with fear. Though it took me a while, but I know everything will be alright once I dealt with my fears.

As soon as we got the test result, we schedule an appointment with another Doctor (a brain-surgeon). From our interaction with him, it became very obvious that he is an outstanding personality who is well vast in his chosen profession, but same cannot be said of the nurses and support staff., while certain aspects of their services were manageable, the overall service left much to be desired and with this, it did not take the family long to decide to move “Ruf” out of the place.

I will rather have a great team comprising of average individuals) than have a team comprising of a super-star in the midst of a sub-par team.  While I have nothing against a super-star (the corporate world’s celebrity), I am also aware of their limitation without a great team to work with.

A superb team is one that is aware of its constraints, yet gives no room to fear; carrying out their tasks  without the fear of failure looming over them as the  fear of failure is worse than failure itself!

The 3rd Lesson: You don’t know how much you know until you sleep over a situation

The next step in “Ruf’s” treatment spanned almost a month. This included surgery, hospital admission, another MRI test and lots of healing messages. I was practically sleeping over at the hospital almost every other day meaning taking time off work and many other things. During this period, I realized that the hospital takes on a new look and “mien” in the night when there are fewer people around. It suddenly occurred to me that there will always be a gap in what I know about any enterprise unless I see such enterprise in their “night mode”, strangely, majority of analysis are conducted during the “day mode”.

Sleeping in the hospital over a period of time means there was ample time to see the support staff (the cleaners, nurses, etc) in a new light and it became obvious that without their services the whole infrastructure will collapse.

Concluding a phase

“Ruf” was eventually discharged and is on the way to full recovery (defiling medical research and even some Doctors’ opinions). Some experiences are surreal and difficult for others to fully comprehend. Looking back at the first 3 months of 2016, it was a wonderful opportunity to see the world from another perspective and attain a very high level of self-discovery

Challenges have a way of making you stronger and placing you on a higher pedestal, I believe that is what the term “silver lining in a cloud” is all about.

Oludayo is currently the President, International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) Nigeria Chapter & also a Member IIBA Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Regional Board

Business Process Manager Vacancy: Lagos, Nigeria

BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGER 

A pharmaceutical company (the fastest growing in West Africa), with locations across Nigeria need the services of Business Process Manager to be based in Lagos.

Job Description 

The Business Process Manager facilitates process mapping exercises across the Group to document existing business  processes; identifies gaps or inefficiencies causing a  value  loss to  the company;  formulates  and  defines  value  based  process  improvements  through  research, understanding of business processes and industry practices in alignment with corporate goals; and crafts, conducts and participates in effective communication forums with business groups across the organisation.

Key Elements of the Role

 

Report to the COO

  • Facilitate process mapping sessions with all departments of the Group and others to gain a comprehensive understanding of company processes
  • Track and document existing business processes, capturing inputs and outputs as appropriate
  • Evaluate processes for gaps, inefficiencies, high costs and ineffective areas
  • Evaluate opportunities based on efficiency gain, cost savings and necessity to meet corporate goals
  • Define process improvements that reduce inefficiencies or increase output quality
  • Provide impact and cost benefit analysis for process improvements, system modifications and or data modifications
  • Communicate impacts to affected groups in appropriate and timely manner
  • Provide support  for  corporate  business  process  initiatives  to  utilise  standardised  process maps and terminology across the organisation
  • Document process improvements in the form of business requirements, communicating with appropriate divisions as necessary to implement changes

Desired Skills & Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in Science, Business or other related field
  • Minimum of 5 to 7 years related experience in a structured organisation
  • Strong familiarity with MS Visio, MS Office, SharePoint and other process related systems
  • Experience with the use of a Business Process Management suite is an advantage
  • Extensive experience with business analysis, business processes and requirements gathering
  • Robust knowledge in mapping business processes and process re-design
  • Advanced facilitation skills
  • Advanced communication verbal and written skills
  • Demonstrated ability  to  work  in  interdisciplinary  groups  or  independently  with  minimal supervision
  • Demonstrated ability to work in fast paced, fluid environment
  • Demonstrated ability to influence outcomes in a tactful and appropriate professional manner

 

Interested candidates who meet the minimum requirement should send a one page summary of their most significant achievements for the last 5 years with your application letter, a detailed CV and  relevant  copies  of  credentials  to:  info@osconcepts.com

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Never Walk Alone, the Tale of Two Snakes: Why Traceability Matters

Prologue

It was early Sunday morning; as I had woken up early, I stood right in front of my room to brush my teeth in preparation for going to the school chapel.  After brushing, as I turned to return to my room, I noticed the transfixed gaze of some students as they stared in my direction.  Within seconds, I bolted towards the girls’ hostel (it was the race of my life), as Kamoru (the school 100 meter champion) chased me with a big and long snake on a stick. I could hear students screaming and urging me on. On a normal day it will be impossible to beat Kamoru to a race, but this was not a normal day. It is never fun to have someone chase you with a big snake; it was indeed a very scary situation!

 

Introduction

Though not a Liverpool Football Club fan (nor a supporter of any football club asides our national team), I love their slogan “You will never walk alone”. Few people (if any) like loneliness, humans are defined as social beings. However, there are many animals that prefer to run “solo show”, prominent among them are snakes. I can’t stand the sight of a snake and do all I can to avoid them (even in Zoos). In Africa snakes typify evil and danger, and it is normal (and considered acceptable) to kill a snake.

 

The following statistics provide interesting facts:

  • Out of the 2500-3000 species of snakes worldwide, only about 500 which represent 17% to 20% are venomous (venomous refers to an organism that injects poison) and Australia has the highest number of venomous snakes.
  • Only one species of snakes is poisonous (poisonous refers to an organism that poisons through touch or ingestion).
  • Snakes rarely live and move around in group, an average snake moves around alone.

But there is a particular species of snake that stands out; the male and female always move around together. While the male glides from tree to tree, the female move on the ground. While the male is highly venomous, the female is non-venomous. While it is easier to take out just one snake, the coordination (or relationship) between this pair makes them a formidable threat to any predator (including humans).

The Two – Snake Gang: (Requirement) Relationships Matter

Requirements form the backbone of any project or business initiative, they specify the reason(s) why we do what we do. Where we live, what we drive and numerous other choices of ours are largely based on requirements. Just like personal requirements (or preferences), there are requirements that drives enterprises. Business Analysis has divided Enterprise Requirements into four classifications, and they are as follow;

  • Business Requirements
  • Stakeholders Requirements
  • Solution Requirements
  • Transition Requirements

Requirements have inherent relationships (they are connected to each other), and understanding the connections helps analysts and decision makers make informed decisions. Requirement traceability can be defined as having an in-depth understanding of how requirements are connected to one another.

The two-snake gang operates an effective partnership, while the venomous male provides protection for the female, the female acts as the scout for the team. It will take an experience farmer to take out this gang by first going for the venomous male, before attempting to neutralize the female. An ignorant farmer trying to neutralize the female first would be risking his/her life! While it may not be as obvious as in the case of the two-snake gang, requirements are also related or connected to one another, and an action (or inaction) on one, will definitely affect the other(s). Removing a requirement without carefully considering the effect of that removal on other related requirements is the beginning of the failure of that initiative. A good understanding of requirement relationship can help an analyst conduct a thorough Change Impact Analysis on a project or business initiative, the five kinds of requirement relationship (as defined by BABOK) are;

  • Necessity
  • Efforts
  • Subset
  • Cover
  • Value

Conclusion

Just as life will be difficult without meaningful relationships, failure to understand requirements relationship will make achieving success on any project or business initiative very difficult. It is only the farmer that understands the synergy between the two-snake gang that will live to tell the story.

Epilogue

I lost my footwear as I ran towards the girls’ hostel, but it was a successful strategy as Kamoru was forced to call off the chase. I later learnt that the snake on the stick was a dead one, but Kamoru’s original plan was to put the snake on my bed (thinking that I will still be in bed)! Even though the snake was dead, who will like to wake up to see a dead snake by his/her side! Despite all the facts quoted above, I still prefer to stay away from snakes.

Dying at the Foot of the Pedestrian Bridge (How showing stakeholders the cost of non-conformance can enhance your Change Management Approach)

Prologue

“Mr. Moses is dead, he was knocked down by a car.” That was how Richard, the head of our church cell group, announced Mr. Moses’ demise to us in the meeting. I was shell-shocked, I felt light-headed. He had 2 cars but decided to cross a six-lane highway so as to meet a client on the other side of the road. He probably felt that crossing the lanes would be faster than having to drive there. He is  survived by a wife and 3 children.

The incident forced me to pay more attention to the state of the roads in the city where I live, which supposedly has one of the best road networks in Africa; yet only a few of these roads have pedestrian bridges. That was until the World Bank funded a project to construct pedestrians bridges all over the city, yet there is no significant reduction in fatalities due to hit and run drivers. Is there anything to learn from this as a professional? My answer is a resounding YES!!.

Introduction

Change management is basically managing human interaction and reaction to new initiatives (or projects), it also means helping individuals that makes up a team or organization make the most of the change that a new initiative will bring onboard. Without adequate preparation for change , it will be almost impossible to maximize the values that a new initiative will deliver to any organization.

Why do we need to invest into change management activities? The most repeated answer to the question is that humans naturally resist change. While this is factually correct, it might not explain the whole matter. The need for change management is deeper than human nature, it is more of our ability to see things from the prism of benefits and losses.

Casualties Highways

As shocking as Mr. Moses’ death was, it is not a rare occurrence. Many people have lost their lives trying to cross highways, but there is no reliable statistic about this. I have on few occasions seen people lying down on the road after they had been hit by a car, but the most enduring memory was when I witnessed a man being flung into the air by a vehicle on top speed. I saw everything as the man and his companion ran across the road. Just like in a slow-motion movie, I heard a muted sound, saw the pedestrian in the air (about 3 meters high), followed by the screeching sound of brakes and shattering  of windscreen. I caught a glimpse of the man wriggling on the ground, and people stopping to help. I was shaken by the experience and immediately reduced my speed. I kept my leg on the brake pedal till I got to my destination. You might be wondering just as I am as to why people still run across busy highways despite such terrible incidents? Why have they refused to use the pedestrian bridges at the risk of their lives? It’s a change management issue!

The highway fence barrier & Civil Defence Guards

On a bright Monday morning as I drove to the office, I noticed the construction of fence barrier intended to stop people from running across the highway. By Tuesday morning some Civil Defence guards had been stationed by the highway fence as an additional measure to achieve the above objective – it was obvious a decision maker was hell bent on stopping people from being knocked down by vehicles. After one week, I noticed big holes on the fence, people were literally cutting the wire-fence to run across the highway rather than use the pedestrian bridge (just about 200 meters away!). A friend had a close shave while driving home on the same highway; the car immediately after his knocked down a man carrying a little baby! It will take more than a fence and the threat of arrest to stop these people.Showing them the cost of failure (in this case, been knocked down by an oncoming vehicle) might be a better option.

The cost of non-conformance: My Road Safety Experience

Over 10 years ago I attended a gruesome lecture organized by the agency in charge of road safety in Nigeria (FRSC); I was forced to attend because my vehicle was impounded (for not being able to provide my driver’s license on the spot). The lecture was part of the process of getting my car released, and it was made mandatory for owner of impounded vehicles. All that was shown during the lecture were images of terrible auto accidents, with gory pictures of victims. I had nightmares afterward, but I believe the lecture worked. I now pay more attention to road safety.

The cost of non-conformance is the cost that anybody or group will pay for not adhering to the quality expected from a service or products. It consists of the cost of scrap, loss of goodwill, cost of re-work, and the cost of failure. As prevalent as the incident of hit and run is, few people get to witness one. Many people believe it is safe to run across the highway because they have done it for years. The probability of getting knocked down by a car on my city’s road is low (most likely less than 6%), but the probability of dying when knocked down is very high (around 95%). Considering the above statistics, many would prefer to use the nearest pedestrian bridge, rather than risk their own lives.

Why Change Management (sometimes) fails

Management fiat, memos, force field analysis, stakeholder impact analysis, etc are helpful during change management initiatives, but understanding the cost of failure (especially to the individual or group concerned) is a useful tool in change management. Business analysis (as enumerated in BABOK) recognized the importance of a successful change management, and one of the 32 tasks (Assess Organizational Readiness) is dedicated to change management. While many quality management experts are familiar with the effectiveness of enumerating the cost of non-conformance, broader adoption across a wider spectrum of people (either as individuals or organizations) will improve the chances of this initiative (and project) succeeding.

Conclusion

There is no guarantee that organizing a lecture that will show graphic images of pedestrians killed while trying to cross the highway will deter others from doing the same, just as media attention of immigrants’ fatalities as they cross the sea to get to Europe has not deterred intending immigrants; I think it is time we come up with a new approach.

Epilogue

Mr. Moses’ wife passed away recently, she succumbed to an illness. It is impossible to predict the turn of events if he had not been knocked down by a vehicle, but many things went wrong that could have been avoided if he had not died. The cost of failure is not just about the lives of the pedestrian knocked down, sometimes innocent lives are altered forever just because of that one event.

Who Stole Fuel From My Generator?

Prologue

It was my wife’s birthday, and I was planning a surprise party for her. I started planning the secret gig 20 hours earlier; but thanks to a friend, the execution of the “project” was going on fine. I also have to catch a flight out of the town for a business assignment with a new client. I realized at the last moment that I needed to get a cake for the party, but my hunt for the cake was abandoned immediately I saw a fuel station dispensing products with an unbelievable short queue. I changed my mind without a second thought and ended up spending about 20 minutes to fill my car fuel tank. No cake for the party, but I got fuel for the car. No argument, that was a perfect tradeoff at a time like this! I was also happy because I have extra fuel for my generator set, since power supply had become unbearably erratic.

Introduction

The fuel stations are not selling, yet hundreds of car owners are camped outside hoping to buy, power has been cut for days and we are powering the house with fuel from the black market (for few hours each day), banks are closing business early, and Telecoms operators are issuing warning on what to expect if things remain the same, local flights are being grounded in droves, the water board just contacted a friend warning of a total shut down of services in two days time. This is unprecedented, Nigerian and Nigeria’s economy is being grounded. For the first time, I envied people living in a sane environment. I am currently writing this article with a generator, I need to hurry up because I don’t know how long the fuel in it will last. I can only speculate, because petty thieves are siphoning fuel from generators. There is no assurance that my generator has not been visited, because fuel was siphoned from my generator few days ago! People are that desperate.

The Party

The party planner and I made preparation for 40 guests, but about 60 people met her with the “happy birthday” shout. She was shocked! For me, that was mission accomplished.  I was proud that my team and I can put the party together in 2 days, and it was a success even without the cake. I explained to the guest that I could not buy a cake because I had to get fuel. Two of the guests approached me later for more information about how I got the fuel, and they left promptly to buy. But I perfectly understand, having fuel is a status thing now especially when you see a car being driven with its windows rolled up! As we gradually round-off the party, my mind shifted to my upcoming trip. By 10pm later in the day, I had settled down in my hotel in Lagos prepared for the business of Monday!

Where is the fuel?

I called my wife to find out how she was doing (she was yet to recover from the surprise party shock). I asked about the power situation, but she replied that there was no power from the utility firm there was also no fuel to power the generator. My reply was, “that cannot be possible”.  I just filled the generator with fuel before leaving the house, it’s not possible for fuel to evaporate like that. We soon realized that someone made away with the fuel! Why someone would steal a $50 worth of fuel and leave behind a $400 worth power generator set might be difficult to comprehend, but it makes economic sense. There is demand for fuel, and stealing fuel is less risky.

Conclusion

What we are witnessing in Nigeria is unprecedented, and I doubt if anyone or business is not feeling the impact. Many Nigerians expects things to improve in the coming days, but are there lessons we (people, businesses, and government) can learn from the current situation? I suppose so, the question is “are we willing to learn and to apply the lessons?”.

Epilogue

It is out of question to report the case of the “missing fuel” to the police, but the consequence of the action is that I might have to start investing in “fuel security” if the situation persists.

Eight Hours at the Gas Station: Mob Lessons for the Business Analyst

A typical queue at the Gas Station

A typical queue at the Gas Station

Prologue

It was some minutes past 4 am, the first light ray was yet to break the hold of the darkness as I dressed up for a very important outing. This was the first for me but I was not looking forward to it, though I knew thousands of people experience it every day. I was getting ready to go and hunt for a gas (fuel) station in order to join the long queues that have become permanent features on my city’s roads. My estimate for the time I will spend on the queue? Three hours, if all goes according to my expectations!

Background

My car’s fuel gauge signal turned red, and a decision to buy Premium Motor Spirit (popularly known as Petrol) from the black market stared at me in the face. But I decided against it; the risks were too high. Apart from paying over 300% higher than the official rate, there is also the risk of buying adulterated fuel with the attendant risk of damage to the fuel pump. I decided to set out as early as possible to join the long queue, the only other option is to leave the car and pay high fare for the chaotic and unreliable public transport service.

Introduction

This is not the first time that fuel scarcity would happen, but I have never felt the effect like this before. The longest time I have ever spent on a queue before was roughly one hour, and most of the time, many people had been of help in getting this essential commodity in time of scarcity. It will interest you to know that even though Nigeria is the biggest producer of crude oil in Africa and the seventh largest in the world, fuel scarcity is becoming a recurring event here.

The Set Out

Leaving my house by 4:45 am (which I considered too early) I set out for the biggest fuel station in town. I was shocked when I saw 2 to 3 kilometer-long queues (in a double lane format). I saw nothing less than 350 units of vehicles on the queue. I visited another station (also with an unbelievable long queue for such a time of the day) before deciding to join the queue at the third station. I soon realized that many people on the queue passed the night there (in their cars), and that many were spending the second straight day on the queue!

The Community and the Economy

As soon as the first streams of light busted through the dark cloud, many of the drivers on the queue started coming out of their cars, and before long, a topic was being discussed (you will think the men had known themselves for long). My curiosity got the better part of me and I joined a group of two men nearby. We immediately got immersed in discussion about renewable energy and the imminent government transition our country. One of the guys I was talking with has a Masters Degree from Hong Kong University and works with a renewable energy firm. Eventually the group grew to about nine men, and I noticed that kids selling wares ranging from water to snacks started coming around. This queue has a community, and just like any other community it has given birth to many economic activities. By the time it was 7:30 am, it became clear that I would have to readjust not just my estimate but also my schedule for the day. We were informed that the fuel station manager would not start selling until 8:30 am. I was furious but also seemed helpless. I didn’t have enough fuel in the car’s tank to start going elsewhere, and anyway, I was not sure there would be a fuel station without any queue (or a better one) at that time of the day unless such station has no fuel to dispense.

I decided to go and find out what was happening at the fuel station (which was like a kilometer from where my car was), after convincing another man to go with me. What I found surprised me; many people on the queue were still sleeping in their vehicles while some were observing their early morning prayers. It seemed these hopeful petrol buyers were trying hard to maintain a semblance of normality even in the face of acute hardship. My companion on the walk gave me another insight into suffering. According to him, “suffering is not just when you don’t have money to spend, but when you have money but still cannot buy your daily needs”.  We met an old man (he should be in his late 60s or early 70s) who told us he also spent the night on the queue! I asked him to join us to go and have a meeting with the station manager; I believed we could convince him to start selling as soon as possible. The old man declined, but offered me his place on the queue because he had decided to go home. My new position meant I moved forward on the queue, beating nothing less than 40 cars in the process. My joy knew no bound, you would have mistaken me for a winner of a multi-million dollar lottery jackpot!

The Mob of the Queue

Eventually the fuel pumps started dispensing some minutes past 10 am (almost 5 hours after I joined the queue), but it was anything but an orderly process. Many people jumped the queue, despite spirited efforts from others to maintain order. I witnessed an angry set of people attempting to push a car out of the line because the driver jumped the queue; many car tires were deflated in an attempt to maintain order. Welcome to the world of the mob of the queue, this is an unusual group. Not the Al-Capone type that was portrayed on the Hollywood blockbuster, The Godfather. This mob consisted of responsible citizen looking for social justice even on the queue.  I was amused by what I saw, especially the coordinated actions of people to maintain social order. Several “black market entrepreneurs” were also having a field day. They had a well rehearsed process that ensured they got to buy fuel before every other person on the queue!

The mob I saw at the fuel station reminds me of the “mob” I sometimes encounter during stakeholders engagement. Though stakeholders’ aggression is usually channeled through subtle means, but the message is always loud and clear, “The solution you are proposing is ‘jumping the queue’ here and we are determined to push it out.”

The Mob Lessons

  • The mob is not always entirely made up of mobsters, nor does it only operate on the street. There are mobs in the boardroom too.
  • Many gentlemen (and ladies) will join a mob action if they deemed it as a necessary line of action.
  • Shouting, begging or cajoling the mob is not the best course of action, addressing the causative factor as soon as possible is the only way out.
  • It’s an exercise in futility to attempt to take on the mob as a whole; the mob is at its weakest state when the members are dispersed and they are acting and making decisions individually.

 

Conclusion

I eventually got the opportunity to fill my car’s fuel tank by 1:06 pm (8 hours after joining the queue), and it could have been longer if not for the kind old man’s offer. I managed to get a full tank, but not until I had to take on the fuel station attendant that told me he would only be selling half tank to me based on the instruction of the manager!

Epilogue

My initial 3 hours estimate to get fuel was wildly off the mark, I even considered myself fortunate to get a full tank. It’s not impossible for some people on the queue to go back empty handed that day. I hope the fuel situation will improve as soon as possible, because I dread going back to the queues. I was gratified by the fact that I have a full tank of fuel, so much so that I felt like just parking the car in my garage to conserve the fuel. Of course not a logical choice, for why spend 8 hours looking for a fuel I will not use.

Three Hours at the Emergency Ward- Part 1

Prologue
Sundays are meant to be days to rest and get ready for the coming week, however this particular Sunday was exceptional for all the “not so good” reasons. I got the first clue by 7am of that day, which saw me attending 3 parties, ferrying 15 children to Amusement park, having to pick 5 out of over 3000 children in an open park, and spending the last 3 hours of the day at the Accident and Emergency ward of a hospital. It was indeed an eventful day!

The Transport Runs
As 2014 drew to a close, the aura of festivity everywhere did not remove the fact that I had so many looming deadlines, hence, there was very little time for merriment. Yet my wife and I were mindful of our son (Oba) and his holiday “needs”, which included spending quality time outdoor. So we were glad when our local church announced an end of year party for children.
Having made up our minds that our son will be part of it, as we left home on this eventful Sunday, I decided not to attend service but take Oba straight to the venue rather than have him join the Church’s transportation.  This decision was based on the prevailing security situation in the country. Once other parents were aware of our decision, they were quick in entrusting their children and wards to my care. That was how I ended up ferrying 15 children (in 2 runs) to the venue and was also tasked with the responsibility of returning 4 of the kids to their parents after the party.
I would normally not want be alone with Oba (I usually can’t get anything else done if we are alone) and my wife complains so much about this; but here I was with 15 “Obas”! That was the easiest part. The hard part was locating 5 children (including my son) after the party. Obviously 3 of out of the 5 (including my boy) were having a nice time while the remaining 2 were bored and already “crying” for daddy and mummy. Rounding them up (in a park with over 3000 children) took close to 45 minutes and tested the very limit of my endurance. Taking the other 4 children to their parents’ homes took another 30 minutes. I cut the picture of a frustrated figure by the time I was done with that and looked forward to calling it a day, only to be  reminded of  the end of the year party in Oba’s school which was slated for the same day, and believe me Oba  was raring to attend!

The Party Runs
We barely touched base with home when, we set out for the school party which had almost ended by the time we got there.  As I was alighting from the car, a friend of mine with kids in the school reminded me of the birthday party of a mutual friend of ours. Not only did she invite my family to the party, but she also placed a follow-up call. With this my wife and I decided that I needed to show up at the party.  By the time I got to the venue of the birthday party, it was already a few minutes after 7 pm. Completing my 12 hours of non-stop activities (since 7 am). With a plan to spend just a few minutes at the party venue before dashing home for a well-deserved rest, I had barely sat down when I got a call on my mobile, requesting I come to the hospital as someone I know (let’s call him Dan, not the real name) was involved in a fatal car accident. The caller wanted me to come to the hospital as soon as possible, so I rushed home to pick up some things and within minutes I was on my way to the hospital.

To be concluded in part 2