Julia: I look at a text message on my phone – “Am sick – can’t teach – have a nice day!  Wendy.”   Another typical day has begun.

Ah!  It’s 6.40am and classes begin at 8.30.  Think!  What’s Wendy teaching today – where’s she teaching?  I look at my training centre schedule on my computer.  She should be at primary school teaching drama for 4 hours.  FOUR HOURS!  I call my manager – I need to make sure she’s awake. 

“Hi – please look at your phone messages!” I say in a hurry, and hang up.  Yes, at that time of the morning, I’m a bit of a coward.

I look down at my phone again – another message.  “Sorry, I’m still unwell – will be back in 2 days’ time.”  Our cleaning lady is sick – this is a red alert!  I rush into my daughter’s room and shake her awake.  “Susan’s sick again today!”

A grunt, a moan, and then Simmy quips, “I’ll get dressed. What do you want me to do first?” 

“You do the dogs, I’ll clear the garden, then I’ll clean out the birdcage!” I reply from halfway down the corridor on my way to grab tools from the utility room.

Tasks allocated, Simmy and I go into robot mode.  The garden – well, more of an over-stocked patio, really – is used by our huge UNgarden-trained puppy.  NOT a nice way to start the day!  An hour later, everything in the garden smells sweetly . . . of disinfectant.

By now the dogs are fed and happy, and Simmy goes to the kitchen to make each of us a strong cup of coffee. 

Only the bird left for me to do.  Ozzie, our rather loquacious African parrot, is still in his blanket wrapped cage.  He has been whispering loudly, “Come on, daaarling!” ever since I first stepped into the garden.  Can our neighbors hear him?  Do they think I have a lover?

I take off the cage cover.  “Good morning,” he says, in the same seductive voice.  This bird could be BIG TROUBLE.  But I can handle him – “Here, here, have a peanut,” I say.  He goes silent for a while as he tucks into the nut and I clean the cage.

The phone rings, and it’s my manager.  “It’s OK.  James is going in.  Lesson starts in 5 minutes.”

All is calm again.  I sit down to a strong coffee with Simmy – before the next alarm.

Hoi Yee :  I must warn you – people not respecting time really ANNOYS me.

Waiting just to pay the bill after a visit to the doctor – nowadays, I walk out and wait for someone from the reception to notice that I’ve left, and call.  They know I’m the uptight one who constantly questions whether the doctor is on-time, and how many patients are still lined up before me.

The hairdresser, who has three clients at one time, telling me that he’ll be “right back” four times during my simple haircut.  It is not uncommon for me to walk out with my hair just cut, still wet, and unstyled.  At least the main job is done! 

I am an entrepreneur, and I manage staff.  It is painful to watch someone taking longer than necessary to complete a task.  I admit that when a staff member has conveniently omitted to come forth with an update – it niggles.  It prevents me moving on to my next task, it makes me doubt the ability of the employee.

Will I end up with deeper wrinkles in my face?  More gray hairs than I can make appointments for?  More complaints to my husband than he wants to hear?

Probably yes, but I’d like to think that the lines in my face soften when my son recounts, with a high sense of accomplishment, how many cars his monster truck crushed today; or when I see his Chinese characters written in a cute, clumsy attempt to stay within each square.

I rush around all day so that when I arrive home, I can plonk down my still burning hot laptop.  And, focus completely on a big tight hug from my growing son.