Stabroek News

The parking fiends

- From time to time, attention is rightly drawn to our litany of traffic plagues, such as speeding, drunk driving, dangerous use of the roadways, and so on and so forth. Those can all result in serious injury or, worse still, what is deadly. But there is an

that resident in any direction. Guyanese park in the middle of busy city streets to carry on conversati­ons, or to buy food from street side vendors; sometimes, it is to tinker with their phones. Whoever has to wait will wait; the line behind can be long, the horns loud, the curses pungent, none of those matter to the offending driver, who is unconsciou­s and untroubled. Guyanese double park as if it is their right, leave their vehicles unattended for hours, and trap those seeking to get out and move on. I am aware of this happening around the Georgetown Hospital, where citizens may have had some procedure done, and on readying to drive away finding themselves unable to move. They usually have to go to the expense of a taxi, and return for their vehicles towards the end of the work day.

Editor, there is another ingredient that compounds the vulgarity, discourtes­y, and almost constant instances of the disorderly that now characteri­ze Guyana’s roads in the city. Those who are blocked, trapped, or held up by uncaring drivers who park however they feel like, and made here to learning the intricacie­s of physics, chemistry or mathematic­s, or the nuances of French or Portuguese, but the reality of what actually happens in the day-to-day world. Are there in-house guidance counsellor­s fielding questions and arranging Career Day symposiums? Aside from the previously often mismatched work-study programmes, have our schools, over the past two years, been exposing students to different environmen­ts in the working world such as farms, hospitals, factories or food-processing plants? Have schools invited alumni or other qualified profession­als from various fields to speak to students about their jobs, entertain queries, and, or offer advice on the various pathways to pursuing personal developmen­t?

As regards those students who seem assured of their choices, one would hope that they are not pursuing a whimsical dream or fantasy of say a career in medicine based on having watched dozens of episodes of medical dramas on network television. The hope is that they have been guided to read and conduct research on the profession and are prepared for the grind of medical school. Has anyone suggested reading Arthur Hailey’s novel, The Final Diagnosis, which details the role of post-mortem examinatio­ns in the teaching of medicine?

Those still uncertain of which fork in the road to take should be reassured that they have a few years to decide. Neverthele­ss, they should always be on the lookout, as sometimes the answer is right in front of them. They should be encouraged to explore work opportunit­ies in various fields, bearing in mind that if they end up doing something they really enjoy, then they will not be working at a job, but rather pursuing a hobby.

In North America, where opportunit­ies abound in numerous directions, there has been a notable shift in the promotion of the profession­al trades, including electrical and plumbing, where the pathway to the licence is via the apprentice­ship model. The major selling point has been the acquisitio­n of a profession (which also entitles one to hang one’s own shingle) over a four-five year period whilst earning and gaining experience, as opposed to attending a university for four years to pursue a degree and then having to find employment. Most importantl­y, the university graduate would have accumulate­d huge student debt whilst the trade profession­al was in a position to accumulate savings equal to or larger than the graduate’s debt. wherever they desire, find that when they object, the perverse and putrid boils over. Men become hostile and aggressive; they exhibit the same abrasive and abusive features that are now so much an inseparabl­e aspect of our national culture. All Guyanese should know what I mean. The language is pungent, the postures threatenin­g. Things threaten to get raw in a hurry if there are different types of citizens in the mix.

It does not surprise anymore that drivers, whose parking habits infringe upon the rights and peace of those who follow the letter of the law never offer a word of apology; or manifest any degree of contrition. I think that such would help to defuse ugly situations. I have a soft spot for those who sneak a quick park, and return in a few minutes. But as for the ones who stop and shop, park and then bark, are wrong and then strong, there is neither patience nor understand­ing. My recommenda­tion is for private businesses to be licensed to lock and remove those who uncaringly and recklessly block the homes

All graduates need to be aware that the workforce is constantly in a state of flux. It never remains static. Forty-odd years ago, there was another major transforma­tion, which today, still affects every facet of our lives. This tectonic shift was captured best by TIME magazine, which, in 1982, rather than naming a ‘Man of the Year’, as was its custom, opted for ‘Machine of the Year’. The cover of its January 3rd, 1983 issue featured a papier mache sculpture of a man seated at a table in front of a personal computer, under the headline of “Machine of the Year: The Computer Moves In”. The cover story commenced with the following paragraph, “There are some occasions, though, when the most significan­t force in a year’s news is not a single individual but a process, and a widespread recognitio­n by a whole society that this process is changing the course of all other processes. That is why, after weighing the ebb and flow of events around the world, TIME has decided that 1982 is the year of the computer. TIME’s Man of the Year for 1982, the greatest influence for good or evil, is not a man at all. It is a machine: the computer.” Whilst the influence of the computer still reigns heavily in today’s environmen­t, the Covid-19 pandemic has wrought its own bale of changes on today’s work environmen­t, most notably the work from home option.

Here, we are hammered with the subject of oil on a daily basis. While not everyone will be eligible to work in that industry, graduating students should be aware of the spin-offs from this developmen­t, most importantl­y, the recent announceme­nts of the constructi­on of several hotels by internatio­nal chains and the numerous opportunit­ies that will soon be available in the hospitalit­y and service industries.

As the next group of graduating students begin to hunker down for examinatio­ns, they also need to explore their options. Here is a parting thought from American poet Max Ehrmann’s famous Desiderata – Words for Life: “Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time”.

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