You sometimes find yourself in a situation where you think: This can’t be real! But it is!
Last Thursday I was in a course where they had to explain the Occupational Health and Safety Act of South Africa to us. Apparently the law requires companies to inform the workers about their rights as well as making them aware of safety issues in the workplace.
Our course presenter was an older man who looks like he has spent his whole career in security, with his curly grey hair, his purple shirt and a short tie.
He introduced himself very politely to each of us, and tried to remember our names by using it again. But he struggled to pronounce the African names, because he only addressed the white workshop participants by their names again. He addressed the rest of the African course participants (which were in the majority) as “Mister” and “Misses.” (Although he had asked for their names as well).
He asked the course participants to read passages from the law, as well as from the course notes, but as soon as they started to read, he interjected by reading as well or saying something about the content.
He initiated a role-play with one of the participants:
Boss (presenter): Knock on door.
Worker (course participant): Come in.
Boss: Will you please drive a fork-lift for me?
Worker: No, I don’t have a license.
Boss: Please, I will give you R500. Do it for me?
Worker: Okay, I will! (And it is explained that he proceeds to drive into another worker – with consequences to the company and the boss.) (Very, very lame…)
The best was when he explained that workers are not able to do their work without their hands or eyes. My blind colleague immediately reacted by saying: “I am going to go home now!”
The presenter flushed bright red, and said that he wasn’t thinking.
My colleague was laughing, but you could see that the presenter felt very bad about his faux’ pas.
A very strange four hours, indeed!