I have a neighbour. About 50 years old, but to be honest I have no idea how old she is. She’s been ravaged by bad health.
In a wheelchair, suffering from what I think is Parkinson’s as well. She can walk for 2-3 minutes though she shouldn’t, as her body can’t take the pressure.
My neighbour is also a bit of bitch. Rude, stubborn (especially in her refusal to take care of the mess her cats make), and most days she will flat out ignore everybody who walks by and greets her.
This morning, she dropped her keys. Her husband was away (also in a wheelchair) and given her state, she can’t bend over to pick them up. So she yells through the building: “pick up my keys”. Over and over, I think.
Because the first time I thought I heard something I was still half sleeping. In that state I’ve imagined my phone ringing, leaving doors open. “Pick up my keys, help me please”. My neighbour. Again.
At that moment I realise it is not a dream, but her – again- needing help (she tends to have these types of incidents once twice a month) .
I stare at the ceiling for a second, and think to myself ” the fucking nerve… Who the fuck does she think she is, waking everybody up”.
I get up, grumpy and ready to give her an earful, as I walk down the stairs to help her with the same smugness, IMF bankers show on their way to ‘helping’ emerging nations.
And then I see her. Barely standing, leaning against the door, knees and arms shaking from standing to long.
Her keys just out of reach beneath her on the doormat as she breaths way to fast and shallow from having tried to fix the problem on her own.
And in that moment, just for a moment, I get some much needed perspective. She’s no bitch. I can only imagine the daily struggles she goes through. Stuff that I and the rest of the neighbours take for granted.
Simply because we’re healthy and never imagined that not being able to pick up keys could be an embarrassing and physically hurting event.
When a planner recently asked me why planning is not as respected as it once was, I could not help think that the question “why don’t we get respect” goes a long way to diagnosing our problem.
We are lost in our own private Idaho’s. Our system of thought, our needs to push the clients into brave new worlds, our superior insight into human behaviour, business and technology. Our..our.
And while this attitude can work for decades in growing economies, that tend to blur success attributable to proper planning rather than overall industry growth, in current and coming times it won’t work.
The fat lady is singing.. I am hoping there is no encore.