I’ll take the purple pair

Spectacles with red lenses on a piano

Sanguine: cheerfully optimistic, hopeful, or confident.

This has been a difficult week, which is why this email is shorter than usual and a day late. My week was dominated by three things:

  • An appointment to renew my driver's licence on Monday.
  • A day spent at the hospital while my 93-year old father had surgery under sedation. At that age, any hospital visit is a cause for severe anxiety.
  • Two deadlines that were too tight for comfort, which meant late nights and early mornings.

Pick the delusion that works

Are you familiar with the Dilbert comic strip? Dilbert is a software engineer who works in a cubicle office, and his pointy-haired manager has no clue about technology. It's not everyone's cup of tea. But if you do find the cartoons funny, it's because you know how accurate they often are. (As a great distraction from work, you can find the daily cartoon on https://dilbert.com).

Scott Adams is the cartoonist who created Dilbert. Some years ago I read one of his books, titled "How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big". One piece of advice he gives is to "pick the delusion that works". He points out that our brains have a limited capacity to know the true nature of reality. In many cases, it's your point of view that influences your behaviour, not the universe. Some ways of looking at the world work better than others.

What that really means is that we all view the world through coloured lenses. So you may as well choose the colour of your lenses.

(You don't have to believe me or a cartoonist. There's a lot of solid psychological research behind this principle.)

Rose-coloured lenses for my driver's licence

Most of us are familiar with the frustration of renewing a driver's licence in South Africa. Let's be honest, frustration is really an understatement. A friend described her 6-hour experience in KZN as traumatic.

I tried the online booking system hourly for more than a week to get an appointment. Eventually I paid a company to do it, and it still took them 6 weeks. Meanwhile my licence expired. As a (reasonably) law-abiding citizen, that added to my stress levels - especially as the new extended deadline had not yet been announced. Last week Thursday, I was told I had an appointment on Monday.

After getting photos and eye tests, Renier and I arrived at the Midrand licence centre an hour before our appointment. And then it went much as expected. An amazingly inefficient process that required four different queues. The queue for payment - which could so easily be handled online - took about 90 minutes.

I get antsy when I have to wait in a queue. I don't like doing nothing and I don't like inefficiency. But I was surprisingly sanguine throughout the process.

Why? Because after trying for so long to get an appointment, I was really, really happy to get it off my to-do list.

And that's my message for the week. Sometimes, we need to remember to put on rose-coloured spectacles. They make even the licence department look better.

P.S. My dad's surgery was a success. His wound makes him look like a candidate for the role of Frankenstein's monster. But he's doing well, and that's all that matters.

2 thoughts on “I’ll take the purple pair”

  1. Ludwig Willner

    Well if it would bring you any comfort I can tell you that there are other departments of the SA Government that a worse. We are here in Germany and I have been trying since May/June this year to get an appointment to renew the passports for my kids. Initial appointment was for July but in June already the exam dates changed for the kids which then clashed with the embassy appointment. After almost two month we managed to secure an appointment for October. Hoping that all will go ok it will take at least 6 months for the new passports to be processed and arrive here. I really hope we will make in time to visit SA next summer. For comparison, when the kids had to renew their Austrian passports we made an appointment and got one within a week or so. We walked in there the Monday and on the following Thursday (yes 4 days later) they had their shiny new passports in the postbox. As you say, pass the the dark blue glasses for me 🙂 Have a good weekend. PS. Glad all went well for you Dad.

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