We need more primary school teachers like Alex…

Last night I sat amongst my hubby’s business colleagues and their wives at a dinner for the directors and executive directors – not a frequent occurrence and generally one which is not highly anticipated purely because I don’t see them often enough and imagine a likely stilted and affected conversation, though in this I was entirely incorrect as the banter was easy, fun and interesting, but more importantly, the speeches were incredible. They really were. And you’re probably assuming that I’m referring to those of the chairman and CEO which is a reasonable assumption and of course, these were impressive too, particularly since we were addressed in Croatian. And none of us speak Croatian. Neither does he.
But the best speech actually came from Alex, our head waiter. What a wonderfully, warm, amazing man who called us all to attention and began:
“My mother told me that you must welcome people properly, and so I want to welcome you all here into our wonderful ‘landscape’ room (I’ll tell you more later, just read on…) and say that it is an honour for me to stand in front of you beautiful people to introduce myself as your service ambassador. I would like to tell you what the chef has prepared for you…some tantalizing dishes that will delight you with their flavours and tastes…”
And on he went, service ambassador indeed, to us ordinary patrons accurately detailing the crispy calamari starter preparation as one of three options, and the various mains of lamb shank, fillet (explaining that it was a lazy muscle attached close to the spine and therefore full of flavor- had no idea!) and then the dessert options. Each one of us was equally and entirely captivated.
Of course, calamari starters were ordered en masse at our long table of about 20 I think (I hoped there would be enough as there was another table of 20 in our party) and exactly as he described: delicious. The company was stimulating and the evening was a great success.
But this is not the point of my short story. Because when we left close to midnight, there was Alex at the door with his white –toothed welcoming smile, grabbing my hand in both of his as I said: “ I want to tell you again, Alex (I’d already whispered to him earlier when he approached the table with my calamari), that you had the best speech tonight and the chef and his wonderful food tasted delicious because of it ! “ , to which he replied squeezing my hand, “Well I was a primary school teacher”. And it was only because the last few guests were anxious to leave and shuffled me out of the wood-paneled dining room that I didn’t get to hear his full story, though I have no doubt that my mind continued to wander into the early hours of the morning with some of the following issues that woke me and prompted this: (Naturally, these points bear absolutely no connection to each other whatsoever but I sometimes think of lots of things at the same time and want to spew them out onto the page because then my head clears a little and perhaps I can elaborate on them again at another time, in another chapter. I certainly intend to.)
1. We have no idea about the journeys that people travel and we can learn so much more just talking to people instead of judging them indiscriminately and artificially based upon their appearance, job description or some other arbitrary categorization.
2. He must have, possibly unknowingly even, changed the lives of so many young people with his witty rhetoric and engaging manner as a teacher and we need lots more Alex’s to change the world because,
3. Jonathan Jansen –my number one country hero ( I love him, truly) – at a law teachers conference in Durban last week (#SALTC 2015- google it if you want to know more!) says that you can try to transform as much as you want. It all starts with the schools. He’s so on target all the time. And he INSPIRES with his speeches more than anyone I know.
4. That it’s so exciting that there are so many different avenues of study for the youth of today to explore ( we were listening to Attie across the table about his niece who was chucking up UCT and becoming a pastry chef in Paris- how divine, and scary at the same time… I mean do pastry chefs make enough money in the long run, we were debating and what future for heaven’s sake?) and that age-old saying “if you don’t try, you’ll never know” remains my motto , and that
5. Don’t think that broken sleep when your children are babies is a nightmare and that it’s EXHAUSTING jiggling them around for hours at 2am in the pitch dark when you want to sleep because I can assure you, at least you KNOW where they are and you are not pacing the passages wondering when the hell your teenager is coming home. (This is yet another longer intended post on my #needtoblog list which I am struggling to get to lately.)
6. It’s not about race. Really it isn’t and I know I’ve said this before. It’s about shared interests and common ground.
7. I am probably about to start pacing the corridors again. With a new 9 week old. Boxer puppy. She arrived a few hours ago all the way from Bloemfontein. Sorted by email, whatsapp and SAA Express at 1am this morning. Don’t know if I’m ready for this but isn’t technology and transport incredible?
8. I have so much I want to write about and I haven’t done so for too long and writing needs practice and discipline and am doing neither of these enough lately. At least not of this frivolous, free kind. It really makes me quite mad.
You’ll want to know where the “landscape” room referred to is but I think I’ll keep you guessing for awhile.
TELL ME IF YOU THINK YOU KNOW!
And don’t you think she’s just the cutest thing?

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