Thursday 11 December 2008

To Victor Yagba

Basic analysis of a scam letter

Every once in a while I receive one of these amusing letters from Africa offering grand opportunities to make money or engage in some nefarious business activity.

At one time, I sent the email to the Nigerian Embassy in the hope that it would be investigated by our anti-graft agencies but I soon realised that the ambassador was more interested in painting us all in the worst light than tackling issues that besmirch the good name of Nigeria.

Anyway this email arrived this morning and I felt I needed to analyse the matter just to highlight how and why this is a scam and why it would be criminal to engage in any business with people who send you letters like this.

My comments appear in brackets inline in blue within the document.

The address

From Victor Yagba

[Maybe I would have been more impressed if it had come from the office of Victor Yagba but one should not pass judgement so soon and early in the reading of the letter]

Private and Confidential

Abidjan - Côte d'Ivoire.

My Dearest One,

[My Dearest One? A long lost beau or someone who does not know how to address a formal letter and hopes that flattery would butter up the dormant fool in me to part with my money]

It is my pleasure to contact you for a business venture which I and my junoir sister, Intend to establish in your country. Though I have not met with you before but I believe, one has to risk confiding in someone to succeed sometimes in life.

[In my country? He probably does not know what country I am in, besides, if you had not met me before, you cannot be so familiar with me and address me as dearest. I do not want to be kept in confidence by complete strangers but I think there is something fishy here.

Do you not have a spell checker to ensure that your junoir sister is properly represented as junior in your quest – in fact the correct usage is younger sister, not junior sister.]

Whose confidence

I am Victor Yagba, the only son of late Chief Fredrick Yagba, from Sierra Leone in west africa. My sources of your contact gave me the courage and confidence to rely on you.

[Nice to meet you Victor Yagba, I do not know you nor your father and none of my Sierra-Leonean friends would have offered my details to you for anything.

At least we have the courtesy to first contact a person before handing over their detail – it is just the honest and decent thing to do. West Africa could do with initial capital letters. You might have courage and confidence but that is a two-way street, have you wondered if I would have any courage or confidence in you? If I had any confidence it would in thinking you are a confidence trickster.

In the end, no respectable contact of mine that really knows me would ever give up my details to anyone without first informing me and obtaining my permission. Why did they not take up your offer and rather passed you on to me?

However, let us hear your story.]

Show me the money

There is this amount of FIFTEEN Million US Dollars ($ which my late father deposited with a BANK in Abidjan Capital city of Cote d'Ivoire which he wanted to used for his political ambition in our Country before he was assassinated.

[I am sorry your father was assassinated but why would he put money for his political ambitions in another country other than the one in which he is planning to contest?

I am really surprised that he could have invested this money in some other worthwhile cause rather than in African politics, it probably suggests that the source of this wealth is unauditable or ill-gotten – interesting man your father was.

If he was that rich I am also surprised he was not able to hire good enough security detail to protect him and also how did he make such rotten enemies that they could only get even by killing him.

If you were to lay your hands on this money, what is to say those assassins would not come after you and in fact, they might also come after me.

It is a lot of money by any standards and enough for anyone to kill for given the right circumstances.]

Parent crook with crooked children

Now I and my junior sister have decided to invest this money in your country or anywhere safe enough outside Africa for security and political reasons.

[My younger sister and I have decided, well, have you?

If your father was investing in politics, I wonder where you and your sister might have acquired your business acumen from.

Your stupid father should have written a decent will and testament to take care of you in his afterlife, I would suppose he died intestate and there is probably a dirty scramble for his wealth.

I would even suggest you probably could not get your hands on the more tangible assets of your father having been edged out by other heavyweights that you are not going after this fantasy amount in some non-descript account in Cote d’Ivoire.

If you legitimately had access to this money, there would be no reason to engage a third-party to move it around.]

Investing in loss leaders

We want you to help us claim and receive this money which will be transferred to your safe bank account avoid any traces of the funds and to enable you plan for the investment in your Country. I will like to invest part of the money into these three investments in your Country but, if there is any other business that is better than my suggestion, I will be very glad to follow your advice.

1). Real estate

2). The transport industry

3). Five star hotel

[This is where you really show that you think I am an idiot or you are just plain stupid. Where have you been in the world in the last 18 months? Who is investing in real estate anywhere in the world today?

House prices are falling, commercial property is cheap as dirt, everyone is offloading their portfolios, even Dubai is slowing down on their fantastic developments.

Transport industry, like one of those ramshackle buses in Sierra Leone or what really? Road haulage, do you have any idea of what it takes to run a logistics business because that is what road haulage is all about and now with a paltry $15 million?]

You will not build a decent 1-star hotel with $15 million if you wanted one that would make you any money – the tourist industry is suffering already and in other places the prices have fallen so much it is impossible to be competitive.]

3 million smackeroonies

If you can be of an assistance to us we will be pleased to offer to you 20% Of the total fund while the balance will be invested by you. I await your soonest response.

[I can be of great assistance, find a good cliff in Sierra Leone and take a good running jump off it, make sure there are rocks below, you do not want to live through this tale again.

20% of the total fund is $3 million and I was almost tempted but if only you were just a little smart and knew what you were talking about, you might have had a chance. In fact, I do not get involved with shady unknown people for anything.

I’ll make you a better deal, I’ll take 100% of the total fund and have you and your sister committed to a sanatorium and corrective institution where hopefully in time you might become responsible members of society.

Now, I would have liked to reply but I cannot find a return address, looks like I have been blind-copied or something sinister so a public response might just suffice.]

Respectfully yours,

[I have no respect for you, your mission and your father or your ilk – you guys make me sick.]

Victor Yagba

[Finally, is this you on the 419 Scam [1] site? They say your message is an orphan scam, no wonder I cannot respond – I suppose that puts paid to this criminal scheme – Woe betide you and your kin.]


Saturday 29 November 2008

The managers that damage your health

Bosses stamping on hearts

When I read the news story on the BBC that Bad bosses damage your heart [1], I thought, finally, someone has invested in some serious research to confirm what many already know but could not find an acceptable term for.

In fact, terms would probably be high blood pressure, stress or heart problems, but the causative issues which are work-related emanating from the bad managers at work never really factors into the ameliorating remedy.

Working for a sociopath

I had a nasty experience with that kind of manager just over 4 years ago when the sociopath who presented a most advanced multiple personality façade as he was able to convince his bosses that he was the best thing since sliced-bread whilst he treated his staff to being sliced like bread; he was a big fat bully.

In general, I am able to control my circumstances at work such that I refuse to allow the machinations of rotten managers to affect me beyond what I am able to endure as simply uncivilized behaviour.

In this case, I was hamstrung, my expert opinions were challenged without better views than the ability to bark out expletives; anytime he wanted to get anything done, he briefed the project managers against me; and when I asked for a reference to further my studies, he first suggested I did not have the aptitude for study and then specifically stated in the reference that no help financially or through giving time off would be offered by the company with regards to my study.

After the meeting where expletives were rained upon me, I decided I had had enough, obviously, my manager thought because I had a mortgage and some other responsibilities including with his being privy to certain sensitive aspects of my health I would be unable to make the bold move and leave the company.

Leaving and stressed

Sometimes, I fail to realise how fortunate, blessed and resourceful I have been, I fail to give myself enough credit for the things I have done – recently, I noticed that I have really been self-employed as an IT Consultant for 11 of the last 13 years, I suspect I might have been doing something right.

Well, I found a job and when I submitted my resignation, I was told anyone else could do my job and suffered even more horrible treatment that I took a whole week off before I lost my sanity. I could not understand how if I was leaving a job in weeks I could be under so much stress.

In fact, I had to complain to the CIO, the HR director and copy in the CEO to get some sort of behavioural adjustment from my manager.

These are managers of human beings

The core of the matter is that the culture of management is geared towards visions and missions, products and productivity gains without necessarily considering the humanity that brings about the success to the company.

The people are pushed, laboured and under extreme duress and in fear of their livelihoods that they yield to every direction bordering on slavery whilst allowing the atmosphere to affect them beyond the job into their lives and health.

These are supposed to be managers of human-beings first who happen to have goals to reach for the organisation which hopefully knows that it employs human-beings – flesh and blood who have feelings, goals, ideas, ambitions, loyalties and concerns.

A companionless manager

During that year, five of my colleagues in long term relationships broke up with their partners; my manager thought they were coping well because they buried themselves in their jobs. My view was that if things were so bad at home they would bring those problems to work and could mess things up further, especially in the completely de-motivating atmosphere they were working in.

However, for a manager who might only have been able to have a relationship if the partner wanted someone powerful rather than someone beautiful on the inside and outside, he probably was full of glee that many were becoming single.

Assess managers better

Managers have their purposes in organisations but I fear that there are not enough success assessment methodologies that review the manager beyond the ability to deliver regardless of how his underlings have been abused.

In the months after I left the company, 6 people resigned and even more moved on afterwards, one would have though the HR department would become suspicious as to why there was such attrition in a critical operational department but managers in that company were autonomous, infallible and almost omnipotent – rarely had a manager been sanctioned through internal grievance procedures.

I believe organisations have a duty to their workforce to foster healthy working environments and relationships whilst having a better assessment of their managers beyond their ability to meet some shareholder-dictated goals – if the people are your best asset then they should be managed by people who get the best out of those assets not ones who grind the assets into life-threatening conditions that make then eventually useless to the organisation.

It would appear, the staff have to start to document systematic managerial abuse against how it affects their health and chart how things deteriorate if they cannot walk away from their jobs for all sorts of reasons – eventually, they should be meant to prove or allude certain conditions to work-related stress and possibly particular managers.

No job is worth the stress

In the end, no job is worth the deterioration of my health caused by someone who cares not one iota for my well-being apart from being able to sadistically lord it over me with the feeling that I am trapped and have no other choices than be a slave of my circumstances.


[1] BBC NEWS | Health | Bad bosses may damage your heart

Other workplace stress related articles

BBC NEWS | Business | Bullying bosses 'rife across UK'

BBC NEWS | Business | Bullied workers suffer 'battle stress'

BBC NEWS | Health | Unfair bosses raise blood pressure

BBC NEWS | Health | 'Stress code' for firms launched

BBC NEWS | Business | Workplaces 'getting more stressful'

BBC NEWS | Business | Blood boils in UK workplaces

Sunday 21 September 2008

A contractual dilemma

Pay me peanuts

The rage in me has barely been contained as I have tried to comfort myself that all will be well and things will turn out right.

Leaving the assumed security of contract that was in many ways grudgingly extended by fits and starts that it lasted two years, where the longest extension was 3 months; and that happened twice in that whole period, it looked like a relief.

Each time the contract was being extended I was subtly reminded that I was expensive and needed to be replaced with cheaper permanent staff, when in fact the people (other contractors) I was helping in my team who had considerably lesser responsibilities and clout than I had were paid on a whole a lot more than I was – it is debatable whether they took home as much money, but that is beside the point.

I had been caught in an Apes Obey [1] net of my own making – I was willingly working hard with less incentive than most races – as Lord Lugard [2] had so aptly observed some 86 years ago about people of my race.

Brutalised by opportunists

I was at a disadvantage where I could not promote myself any longer as a Solution’s Architect if I was charging 2nd-line Support rates, there would be some wondering if I was genuine or a fraud and others thinking they had a bargain whilst pitying the fool I was – amends had to be made.

Generally, my demands have been modest and I have been most content trying not to allow the issue of remuneration to becloud the purpose for which I have contracted out my services. I had been seriously brutalised by opportunists in Nigeria years before where I was offering unique, expensive and rare desktop publishing training and when I gave a quote for my services I was called greedy to my face.

Not impressed

Normally, the “typical” young, up-and-coming Nigerian would listen to that and then negotiate the terms to a paltry fee because the man has a big car, he holds a doctorate, he is the director of projects in some grand firm, his sister was an executive in the diplomatic services, her husband was an ambassador and they lived in some swanky neighbourhood able to afford luxuries like kids in the best universities abroad.

To be candid, I have never been impressed enough with that sort of thing to allow myself to be insulted by anyone when in the act of providing services I am professionally able to offer with market-recognised expertise.

I do not think the conversation lasted another five minutes – I simply told them, they knew full well that they could not get that service and attention for less than three times I had charged, they were trying to take advantage of me and finally nobody calls me greedy and then has the opportunity to use my services – they tried to retract and apologise but I was out of the door and never looked back.

The scars endure

I now believe I was scarred by that affair and not long after that, as a partner in another firm where my partner was twice my age, had 70% of the concern (I had 30%) and was a director of the United Bank of Africa – again, this was because people recognized my desktop publishing expertise but felt they could both patronize and belittle me – money was thrown at me derisively across the table on matters that concerned the firm rather than my personal situation.

People just have the tendency to think their positions confer on them the right to be downright obnoxious and we the “underlings” are to accept such treatment as masochists, laid out on the altars of humiliating abuse, begging for more – No! I did not receive an upbringing or education to endure that kind of treatment from anyone.

That business relationship did not last much longer even though I had on the auspices of the firm visited the United Kingdom to purchase equipment for our business – You just do not give a 24 year old 30% of a firm and think it is the end of his ambition and life, he would throw it away and start over again – that is what I did.

Pay me enough to shout expletives at me

Many years on, I found myself working on a trading floor where men were treated like tin-gods, handled by everyone with undue deference because they made money and used to stupid technical people quaking at the sound of their voices, yielding to commands barely better than “lick my boots”.

Before I knew it, this man had a serious problem I could solve quickly but in relaying his problem suddenly spewed out a train of expletives longer than an old West wagon train. I gave him one look and told him, I was there to solve his problem if he took the time to calm down but I did not get paid enough to take expletives in my job.

He should contact me later when he was ready to have the problem solved – he was shocked at my reaction but he called round later, apologized and had his problem solved.

There is no reason why anyone at work should not expect to be treated with the utmost respect and courtesy regardless of your position at work.

The contract debacle

As I submitted my statutory one-month’s notice to end my last contract I was waiting on the affirmation of the contract terms that had been agreed in conversation just about a week before.

There was some movement a week after when I received an email first saying the contract was being arranged on short-notice but I had to provide all sorts of pertinent information necessary to draw up the contract.

I filled in the form, responding immediately asking other questions and got no response for about a week after other phone calls that ended up on answering services.

A few other phone calls to the people I was going to be working with and they were also frustrated with a lack of response, when I finally got to speak to one of the managers of the project I categorically stated that I would refuse to work for a company that does not treat me with courtesy – in this case, the courtesy of acknowledging my emails or responding to my phone calls.

Assurances, assurances and more assurances

I received assurances that all will be well but really nothing happened that I found myself writing one of those emails that I hate to read again after clicking on the Send button it stated I would not resume for work on September the first if I did not have a contract for my assignment – meanwhile I was winding down my activities at the firm where I had resigned.

More assurances where given with a deluge of emails and a phone call from the coordinator of contracts who was mad to call me under great duress where we discussed the agencies to handle my payroll and other issue, still a week before the commencement of the assignment – I relented and started eventually started the new assignment without a contract.

I was able to request all the access I required but no legal document showing the terms and conditions agreed for the assignment, calls were made, emails were sent from 3 other people and still no movement.


Last Monday on the 11th day of work, I sent out an email to all concerned stating if the situation had not become an embarrassment for the firm, it was already unacceptable for me – something had to be done to ameliorate the situation.

Assurances, no matter how gentlemanly do not constitute a legally binding and enforceable contract.

I got no response and upped the ante by suggesting that I would only return to attend the office when I had a contract in my mailbox within the week or I will be back on the market this week – I got emails that this would be done the next working day and arranged with the utmost urgency – and an apology from the coordinator, I deliberately decided not to acknowledge or accept the apology until things had demonstrably changed.

Still a mess – an opportunist agency

It was not the case, the payroll agency were only informed of the contract on Thursday afternoon and had scant information about my contract and I was being tackled by assistant who were clueless about what needed to be done, when I was passed on to those who appeared to know, they did not have the pertinent information to hand.

I furnished them with all the information and had a contract delivered by email on Friday morning, there was whole set of clauses in the contract where the payroll agency tried to insert themselves into the negotiations and exact a no-compete clause along with the ability to exact punitive damages without notification or recourse to judicial review or due process.

It was a menacing clause to serve as a deterrent because I believe there is no way that could be argued before a judge, but if it was signed off in a contract, certain inalienable rights would have been signed away.

This is dishonest in my book

I am no lawyer but even if that was a boilerplate contract that everyone else had not bothered to read and understand, I was having none of it. The payroll agency was not competent to assume the position they desired, they were selected on my advice because I had done business with them three years before and definitely not for their competence, I just thought archival material they might have about me would expedite issues.

The negotiations and arrangements for the contract had been completely long before the agency was involved, so really I did not think the agency could demand in their clause that were egregious as best and really patently dishonest to say the least.

I asked for a waiver, first got a waiver on a moot sub-clause and then when they noticed a two sub-clauses had been given the same number, that was edited – showing they finally read their contract, I was told none of my views were valid and the clauses were not open for discussion.

This is really a big mess

It meant I had the prerogative not to sign the contract and seek the services of another competent agency, however, I needed the coordinator to discuss some terms that were missing from the contract and possibly to arrange an alternative course – as usual, he was nowhere to be found and I have still not been contacted by the man since.

Meanwhile, because this whole issue had been handled with levity, even though I started working on the 1st of September, the contract could only be signed from the 19th of September, the hours I have worked have to be squeezed into the last 7 working days of the month of September.

Is it unlikely that there would be a need to exact the clauses in dispute, but once the contract is signed those dormant clauses can have effect and be executed on the force of the contract – it has become a case of caveat emptor.

At crossroads

My dilemma is whether to completely pull out of the contract and just put myself back on the market or grit my teeth and follow through on this botched matter considering the assignment does offer some interesting opportunities.

The problem is not so much the assignment but the administrative handling of my contract, never have I had to deal with such rank incompetence and unprofessional attitude in the handling of my affairs – I have the good mind of lodging a formal complaint to the superiors of that coordinator and ensuring that I exact my pound of flesh and not forgetting the blood too.

I have never been so pissed off and treated with as much discourtesy as this – I need to go for a walk and watch the iShares Cup [3] taking place just on the water behind my apartment block.


[1] Introducing the Apes Obey! Series []

[2] Frederick Lugard: Biography and Much More from

[3] iShares Cup 2008

Friday 6 June 2008

A rotten experience of shopping and delivery

Bit System, Bigger Memory

Sometimes, I do not know what it takes to snap me out of a terminal sulk and I had every reason to be quite contrary. This blog is a bit geeky.

I had been thinking of getting my mitts deep into Microsoft Windows Server 2008 but that would have required a reasonably specified system.

With a help of a friend at work who knows a bit more about assembling computers, I ordered a computer from placing each component into my electronic trolley after check that it was available and in stock.

The highlights of this system were the Intel Core 2 Quad core processor, 8GB of Ram and 2 1GB SATA hard disks.

Having the Microsoft TechNet Plus Subscription meant I had access to a good deal of Microsoft software for free, for evaluation and usually as Microsoft expects, we feedback to them issues and discoveries to improve the products.

My plan was to install the 64-bit version of the Operating System and the run 2 virtual machines using 2.5GB of RAM, very few systems at work are that well specified.

Then I also decided to get a lower specification pre-built system, half the memory and hard disk space – this was to run Windows Vista, also 64-bit with one virtual machine using 2GB of RAM, thus, I would end up with 5 logical systems and all the research and development can begin.

Indulging myself, I got a 22” widescreen monitor too

Beginning to fail me

The site offered to means to keep up with the processing of the order after I had parted with a smidgen over EUR 2,000.

In real-time, it then appeared not every component was available, most of the order filled up by the 3rd day but for the memory which was supposed to be 2 banks of 4GB for 2 slots in the bespoke system.

In fact, it took 9 days for the memory to be signed off as ready and my system went to assembly.

On Tuesday, I received an email with Track-and-Trace numbers that my systems would soon be delivered and I watched the progress through out the day, from site, to office, to chauffeur and possibly my home.

When I got back home as I walked into the atrium entrance of my block, I noticed 2 boxes, I walked up to check and they were my goods.

I was livid, I could not believe that my goods had been handled with such levity and dumped in an unsecure place with no one having signed for the delivery of the goods. This was supposed to be some “professional” outfit called TNT.

Normally, if a delivery cannot be made, a second and third attempt is made before the goods are taken to the local post office for collection – I have done that so many times for good that do not even cost EUR 50.

It is not all there

It took about 2 hours for me to calm down enough to check if my full order had been delivered, though I could not think of 2 computers and a monitor being in just 2 boxes.

Well, the boxes contained the bespoke computer and the other empty boxes of the components used to build the computer. It did not dawn on me then that I was missing the monitor until later.

Imagine the thoughts that went through my racy mind all night, someone might have waked away with the lighter goods and I had to chase down the whole delivery process to prove that the goods were not in my possession.

I had paid for delivery so it was not like I was being done a favour, I believed I had an implicit contract that ensured after nicely pocketing my money would ensure that goods were properly and professionally delivered.


The next morning, I called to complain and remonstrate, no one knew what had happened to my full order, it was not till the afternoon that I was informed that the goods were still on location and arrangements had been made to get them out to me the next day.

I also received a Track-and-Trace number which I did not try out till the next morning only to find that the number had one character missing.

Akin had to calm down seriously when composing an email to demand the exact number because I wanted to be at home to receive my goods.

Afterwards I called and for 30 minutes I went over my story as if in a recital and could not get a Track-and-Trace number for the life of me.

I was just assured that my goods would arrive, I had no problem with that, but if they were user a professional delivery service there should be a record of the transaction somewhere – well I could not get the information at all – it was frustrating, but I decided to work from home in the hope that their assurances would be met.

Not what I ordered

Meanwhile, the night before, I have powered up the beast of a server and slapped on Microsoft Windows Server 2008– Enterprise Edition with Hyper-V all 64-bit.

Then I ran Everest tools on the system, this is software that takes off the bonnet of a system better than any assembly engineer can do. I had suspected the memory I asked for was not what was installed.

Lo and behold, the system has 4 banks of 2GB RAM instead of 2 banks of 4GB RAM, not problem, it just means I cannot upgrade the memory, but then the motherboard can only take 8GB of RAM – fair enough.

However, should I not have been informed that one of the components I ordered could not be sourced and it had been substituted with another?

Given that the price of the 4 modules is higher than installing the original 2 modules I ordered, there was a whiff of hanky-panky and dishonesty in this situation, I was not being given what I paid for and something else was passed off to me as what it was not.

I was not pleased at all and I mentioned that to them, apology precipitates excuses but this was really a process gone wrong.

Arrived and dumped at the door - AGAIN!!!

At just a quarter to 4 my bell rang at the delivery courier said he had 2 boxes for me; I let him in and made for the entrance, 7 floors down by elevator, before I got there, he had disappeared and my boxes were just by the door on the inside.

I found out from a neighbour that the boxes delivered on the Tuesday were placed in the same place and someone had moved them further into the atrium. I was already too exhausted to be very angry, it was completely unacceptable.

How can a firm deliver EUR 2,000 worth of goods and not require signatures of proof of delivery?

I wrote to and told them I would never shop with them again and I would shop them to the computer consumer site called and vent my spleen on my blog.

Apparently, they do have good consumer ratings – Murphy’s Law just seemed to exact a gravitational force on my transaction.

I received a profuse apology by email and they said they were going to lodge a complaint with TNT.

Don’t keep me waiting

So, I left work early to get a KVM (Key Video Mouse) switch to link up 2 computers in my office, I already have one linking up 4 computers in my computer room; none of the shops had what I wanted and when I got to the other side of town all had closed but one.

I bought a cable off them but it took probably ten minutes to process the order because the mouse on their computer was playing up – then I paid, but the boy at the till could not make out that if I bought stuff for EUR 16 and gave him EUR 51, he should give me EUR 35.

The innumerate are taking over the world and that is probably more catastrophic than the illiterate.

Then he offered me a bag, but got distracted trying to fix their computer with a colleague, another 5 minutes that I slapped the shelf with my palm and asked that the customer be properly attended to regardless of whether their system works or not – it is not my business if as a computer store they cannot replace suspect parts.

Basically, I am a customer who does not like being kept waiting – nothing vexatious, just as the boy was about to raise his voice to me, the calmer heads in the place called him to order – I was just about to get really pissed off with computer people.

Anyway, I think I feel a lot better now; I am off to play with my new toys.

Tuesday 6 May 2008

The underbelly of living in Gran Canaria

Between holiday and life

For many of us who holiday in the sun and after the holiday dream of moving to those climes away from the dreadful weather of our humble abodes, we have to temper our fantasies with reality.

Many have moved to Gran Canaria, first for the weather and then for a seemingly sedentary life, it is anything but sedentary.

I have seen businesses all around the place that look like the owners are just getting by, the Paradise is lost in the struggle to eke out a living; tourists are not necessarily fair game, if you think about it.

Young people come to the island but are at the mercy of employers who work the system and take advantage of them with rotten contracts and threats of being kicked out for even cheaper staff.

One thing you cannot expect of cheap staff is good service except if they have a naturally friendly disposition.

From servile to service

When I stayed at Riu Papayas over Christmas which for all intents of classification is a 4* hotel, the service and staff were no where in the class of those in the sister Riu Palace Maspalomas where I first stayed in September.

The care and attention to the detail of comfort and satisfaction is beyond compare, one thing these people are good at is making you at ease and addressing every single issue you raise with professional and personalised attention.

It would appear many aspire to work at the Riu Palace or Riu Grand Palace brand of hotels, regardless of the pay, the people feel part of the system that compels you to return again and again.

Dilemma of the young and old

I overheard a conversation yesterday where a young man had a generally comfortable contract to do a show a few times a week for a nightly fee. It would appear employer likes his activities that he has asked the young man to do more shows but instead of an improved nightly fee, he is to be put on a fixed hourly rate.

On the one hand, he would have a stable income but it does not mean that he would be well off compared to if he retained the basic nightly pay-per-appearance fee. The young blonde head was in a dilemma, but these are some of the stark realities people face in the heat of the sun.

Just up the road, Dino's Trattoria, a bistro which looks like a tents and canopies on a balcony (definitely not built for the rain), I sometimes wonder if that was really his idea of coming out here, but he does have patronage and he probably does take occasional breaks in the sun, sitting beside his bistro.

Catching the dream through adversity

Then, the other day, I visited the bar that offers free WiFi connections and realised the ever so friendly chap whose friendliness and dynamism had him running the bar alone during the day was not in.

There are new faces, younger bodies and really not too excited people; a few days later, I saw the friendly chap, he was dressed as a tour director, I did not get to speak to him but thought to myself, people can have dreams and they can come true.

When I finally chatted to him this morning, I realised there was nothing like adversity to help you take those difficult steps to success – his boss in the ploy to hire cheaper, younger staff accused him of pilfering from the till; he left that employment but also decided to take the employer to court for trying to ruin him.

In the meantime, he got a job as a tour director with his own car and as he spoke to me, he radiated with confidence and assuredness that this was always what he wanted to do – it was his happiest and most fulfilling job.

I could only be glad for him, encourage him and congratulate him patting him on the back and telling him to live his dream to the full – the ex-employer might learn a tough lesson – not every young man can be taken for a fool, they also have rights and can seek legal redress for wrongs.

Living in Gran Canaria

It is possible that the case would embolden many others who no doubt have been wronged and have employers think twice before they play tyrant.

Holiday in Gran Canaria is one thing, living and working here is a completely different story, like James Brown said in Living in America, even in Gran Canaria someone somewhere along the way would find out who they are.