I’ve been working these past few weeks – even thought it may not appear that I am. There was a theory I once read about in an article by the British newspaper columnist Katherine Whitehorn which described the important difference between Work A and Work B.
Work A was what a job description required of one; Work B was what actually made it all function. The skills needed for Work A could be acquired elsewhere – and generally pretty easily; the skills needed for Work B were, however, far more trickily established: intuitive, highly qualitative, not at all easy for an outsider to understand.
And therein lay the problem. An example: you walk down the street and see some workmen sitting around having a cup of tea and a sandwich. You think: “Bloody hell, what a bunch of timewasters. A hole to fill – and all they can do is sit around reading the paper.”
What we, as non-workmen, fail to appreciate is that whilst they sit and have their cups of tea, they’re exchanging opinions on how to proceed. ”Careful with that gas pipe.” ”Did you see how the drill hit hard rock?” ”Wonder whether we’ll hit the deadline.” ”What can we do to speed things up and avoid the penalties?”
And just as this workman’s Work B glues everything else they’re supposed to do together, so popping out to the water-cooler and nattering for a quarter of an hour makes an office run a helluva lot smoother.
Though if a workman saw you doing just that, their reaction would be pretty similar to yours on witnessing their time-honoured – and supposedly timewasting – tea-break.
So all the above is just to say that although it may not look as if I’m doing much work, I am. Pulling together the different strands of a distribution network in a foreign country is not the easiest – nor the quickest – thing you can achieve.
“Tiempo al tiempo,” as the Spanish say.
And in the meantime, to convince you further that I’m not spending my time here as a mere tourist (nothing mere about being a tourist, by the way – they have their Work B as well!), here are a couple more photos – taken just this afternoon – of my wife’s beautiful hometown of Salamanca.
So there you go: my Work B for the day. Hope your evening’s a good one – and, after today’s gentle sermon, you’ll know how to value the work of your neighbour as well as you should value your own.