Living an ordinary life, extraordinarily.

Since Allan Donald dropped the bat in the 1999 cricket World Cup I have not watched cricket (I kid you not!). It goes without saying therefore, that I am not a regular visitor at Newlands, but when I heard the beautiful tributes pouring in for the late “Boeta” Moegamat Cassiem, I was eager to find out more about him.

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No, Mr Cassiem did not sit on the board or break records for the Proteas. He sold ice cream at the stadium. He clearly sold it well and touched many lives. He was adored for his selling slogans such as: “Lolly for you jolly” and “Wafer to make your boyfriend stuifer” in his fabulous Cape Coloured accent.

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He sold ice creams at Newlands for 55 years. He was consistent, friendly, passionate and did a job most people could easily do, but he did it wonderfully. That makes all the difference. It is not about the job. It is about how you do the job.

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I worked for two doctors when I lived in Tel Aviv. Dr Judith Lidor was a specialist family physician. Her dad was the only survivor of his family after world war two. He did not ever speak of his time in the camps but enforced good work ethics with his children daily. Later she found out that he had a very simple electrical task as a teenager when he was in the camp. He was in charge of replacing light bulbs. He did this really, really well. It saved his life. He lived to a ripe old age, had many kids, and lots of beautiful grandchildren.

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Mr Cassiem’s story reminded me of that dear old man. He reminds me of my staff too. The ones that despite huge odds against them, manage to do simple tasks really well.

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For example; it is incredibly simple to help someone get dressed. It takes little skill – maybe just a tad of patience, but to do it in a way in which there is no loss of dignity, no additional physical pain, a bit of humour, gentle conversation, some very needed physical touch and some kindness, means more to that person, in that moment, than all the “big” things other clever and powerful people can ever do for them.

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I hope that we never lose sight of this.

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