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Sunday, May 06, 2007

The $1 million lunch

This story from Mark Salter in the London Telegraph has absolutely nothing to do with construction marketing, but it touches close to my heart. You see, I worked with Mark on the sub-editor's desk of the Bulawayo Chronicle in 1979-80. (With two "Mark"s on the desk, I was "Mark 2" and Mark Salter was "Mark 1".) While in Bulawayo, I lived not far from the Holiday Inn he references -- and would occasionally visit the hotel for a meal, or drink in the hotel bar.

My African experiences at age 25-6 of course shaped my life, creating opportunities and establishing my underlying values and perspectives. Perhaps the most significant lesson I learned there is that fear is a relative thing -- and that most people (in North America at least) live with far more fear than they need. Courage mixed with common sense leads to great achievements, I discovered -- and perceived courage is sometimes as valuable as the real thing.

(Yes, I went off to live as a journalist in a country at the end of a seven-year civil war where more than 20,000 people died, but I didn't take unnecessary risks, most of the time.)

More than 25 years have passed of course; and the picture of Mark Salter is nothing like the person I knew (of course the same might be said for me, as well, I suppose). But he is as good a writer now as he was then.

The Zimbabwe story is an African tragedy, but we need not feel sorry or patronizing for that nation. Eventually there will be a 'regime change' and the hyper-inflation will end -- but right now, I wish I could be sipping on a beer at the Holiday Inn, combining youthful memories with more mature perspectives.

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