How many Kibtek workers does it take to change a bulb?

Kibtek.1I looked down at the road and began to wonder why two truck loads of men had arrived next to my neighbour’s house. Eventually I managed to work out the logo on the side of one of the trucks and discovered that they were from Kibtek, the electricity company. It could only mean that there was about to be a major infrastructure upgrade, surely? I speculated about what they might be doing and could not come to any conclusion until one of the men clambered up a pole and started to attach a street light to it, something I had seen two men do to our own pole a few months earlier. At that time they had also installed the electrical wiring as well.

As you can see from the photo, as one man worked nine others stood around doing nothing, so the answer is ten, one to install the light and nine to sit around discussing the use of light as an allegory in ancient religions. So, maybe this was a training session and after a careful explanation of how to change a light bulb these men would travel to the three corners of north Cyprus, level 2 Light Bulb Installation NVQs in their back pockets, changing light bulbs wherever they are needed. No, they all just sat facing away from the one working man, contemplating the meaning of time mismanagement and its affects on company profitability and the overall economy.

While this was happening, the electricity was off and rain clouds were gathering.  I kept expecting the electricity to return any minute. I mean, how long does it take to change a light bulb? I then heard the sound of a digger arriving and another lorry. It looked as if another pole was going to be implanted, and when I looked down again there were 15 men, two trucks, two lorries and a digger. This time 14 men watched one man dig a hole. If one man could dig a hole in one hour, how long would it take 15 men? The answer is one hour.

Now, Kibtek is a government owned company so I suppose all these workers are civil servants, the ones which all the fuss is about and whose salaries the current government is attempting to curtail. It is a difficult situation because from this experience I would think that over-manning is equally a problem but to cut staff means unemployment and along with that the kind of social unrest that comes with discontented people depending on state handouts.

Back to our workers, only 10 remained now, watching the digger prepare the hole for the pole. On the back of a lorry I can see rolls of wire and I imagined that this was going to be attached to the poles later; something which two men managed quite easily a few months before. No, I was wrong, when I looked again nearly everyone had gone, a pole stood there on its own, no wires, just a pole, and three men stared at in admiration. It looks as if this had been a morning jaunt for the other men and as it was now 10:30 a greater pull than watching a man work was calling them back to home base; time for coffee!

I left the scene with a version of children’s song echoing inside my head, “one man and his pole went to  fix a light bulb…”

Maggie –

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