A while ago, I thought differently of the world I lived in. My most poignant concern was primarily passing my exams and to a less extent making sure I wasn’t irrelevant in school. For that, I tried, as hard as it was sometimes, to study that little bit more in order to be confident enough to sit my exams and pass them. This, I did rather successfully.

Well, most times anyway. I was also a regular on the rugby and football teams. I played one sport or the other an average of 5 times a week, weighed less than 70 kilos and had a body weight to fat ratio of less that 15%. I was fit, healthy and led a particularly good lifestyle untainted by the usual western way of life of alcohol and binge drinking that was and to a large extent still the norm, albeit with strict parental supervision and guidance.

That was 15 years ago. I did manage to pass all those exams, went to university, got a degree and went on to work after the prerequisite service year. As expected, now I'm gainfully employed in a company in Victoria Island and now earning a living. I  got married and also raising a young family. Everything should be fine now surely, right? Wrong. In order to be on the right side of my employers, I am required to be behind my desk at 8am. Sometimes earlier if there’s a meeting or anything else that is due to be urgent and requires attention. In order to achieve that I have to wake up at 5 a.m. and leave the house at 6 a.m. Though the good Lekki road is meant to make life easier, the untold hardship accompanying living on that corridor is overshadowing the benefit. But I digress. I, like everybody else that is a professional of sorts and employed in Lagos have to go through a similar hectic lifestyle in order to earn enough to cater for themselves and their loved one. It’s annoying but inevitable. Or so we think until such a situation occurs that stops you in your tracks.

A medical doctor friend of mine, who also works on the Island called me the other day to tell me about a patient who just died of a sudden heart attack right in the office. He has been working 12 hour days for weeks on end. He spent more time in the office than he did at home. He had such a work load that it wasn’t unusual for him to go in at weekends as well. His wife apparently complained but accepted that he had to work. She had begrudgingly learnt to accommodate his unusual work hours.  Then he collapsed at work one day and died on the way to the hospital.

The office was in shock at the news and everything seemingly stopped still for a while. A not too long while though, the office after the initial shock and support promptly went back to business. His wife was left picking up the pieces of everything he left behind. Though a sad story, it undoubtedly won’t be the last we’ll hear.  The work/life balance initiatives as introduced by the British government, taught and advocated by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development amongst other groups is a policy yet to be imbibed and even understood in these parts.

 By Titi Ajayi

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