Tuesday Morning in Dublin Fair City, October is strangely warm this year, I am not wearing a coat and I am not cold. The icing on the cake, it’s not raining.
The air is fresh, the sun is shining in a wonderful deep blue sky that can only be seen in Ireland, I feel lucky to be given all this today, I feel happy.
I am strolling down to the train station.
While I walk I go through the few things I need to do before I meet my first prospective client at 10. Hmmm, yes, I will get off at St. Stephen’s Green, go to the third floor of the shopping centre where the small laptop repair shop is, buy a new Thunderbolt to HDMI converter, a knock off version because the Apple one costs something ridiculous. Also, I need to buy yet another clicker to replace the last one I lost, as usual, at the last conference I spoke at.
To be perfectly honest, I am not sure how, to this day, I never lost my head, I am great at losing stuff, I even lose more than one thing in the same day, but hey, nobody is perfect and the sun is shining.
Back to my plans, after buying that stuff I need to walk to the bottom of Grafton street and meet my client at Keoghs cafe’, easy. My 5 minutes stroll to the train stop helps me relax and reassure myself everything is going to be OK, I am actually really looking forward to meeting this guy, he has an interesting proposition and I can’t wait to talk to him about how I can help his organisation.
So let’s recap, the weather is great, the sun is shining, the train ride is going to be short, I know what I’ve got to do, great. I smile to myself.
I get to the station while my train is arriving, I slot in with perfect timing, things could not be better this morning. I still have my sunglasses on, Irish people wouldn’t wear them on the train, I am allowed I am Italian, I keep them on.
The train is quite packed, but considering it’s 9:15 in the morning it is not too bad. At the first stop, I try to move away from the door to allow people to get out and while I do this, somebody, a lady, pulls my laptop’s bag and asks me to move. I move a bit more to the side but the lady is not happy and she pushes me outside the train. She walks out as well to let other people get out, then looks at me and goes quite loudly “Don’t you see the train is full and people need to get out?” I am puzzled, I look around to find friendly faces.
In my naivety , I think that my travel companions would give me some sympathy once I get back on the train, considering the rude treatment I have been subjected to from that lady. By the way, I now I notice she is at least 15 years younger than me and is looking at me with contempt.
I look around for some form of support, maybe the odd smile or a wink. What I see is quite hard to describe. I see faces with deep sadness. I see people that do not have the time or the will to be sympathetic not to mention annoyed at the lady’s rudeness.
I am confused, I look around more. Still the same, the train is a large box full of unhappiness. All the people I look at are sad. Why? On a day like this? I ask myself.
It finally dawns on me. It’s hard and unexpected.
They are sad because they are going to work, they don’t like it.
As soon as the realisation comes to me, I try to push it away, I don’t want to believe it. I look at other people, turn my head right and left, I look further, past the first carriage, with the hope of finding a happy bunch somewhere.
And then I hear the silence.
I had been looking at the faces, now I notice that nobody is saying a word, many are looking at their phones and a lot of the people standing are simply staring into space, not registering the presence of the other humans around them.
Then a glimmer of hope, I hear a laugh over my right shoulder, I turn and see 2 young girls, teenagers I’d say, that are having a conversation. The one sitting, with a big smile, is telling her friend how good the new teacher is and how much she is enjoying his class. Her friend seems truthfully interested in the story, she has a big smile too, I can actually feel the connection between them, it’s beautiful.
I look around more. No, the only two happy people are the 2 students, I rejoice with them briefly before the sadness I felt just seconds earlier comes back to me in the form of the realisation that there is something seriously wrong.
A train with hundreds of passengers with 2 happy faces to be seen.
Why are these people on a train that takes them to a place they hate?
Why did we build a society around something that makes people unhappy?
Why are these human beings, capable of feelings, emotions, beings that are both wonderful and powerful, decided to create a culture that is centered around work? Work, that those humans hate. Work that makes them sad in a sunny fresh mid-October day in the beautiful city of Dublin.
At this point, I am saddened by my thought, to send it away, I selfishly try to think about how lucky I am that I love what I do, and what I do happens to be my job. This feeling very quickly mutates into sadness again, because I remember when I was one of the sad people on the train, replaying in my head, my work induced negative thoughts over and over.
I had been sad too, I had black moments, then I got lucky or simply was too resilient to give up and learned better ways of living my life.
Can I do something for these poor sad souls? Maybe I can , I even wrote it on my web site, it’s part of what change I want to see in the world.
I have a dream, I dream of joyful organisations.
Are you going to help me build joyful organisations? I am going to try, if you also dream, come with me.