Published On: Sun, Feb 23rd, 2020

What’s going on?

no caller phone

by Cdr. Bud Slabbaert

Isn’t amazing that hardly anyone in a business or office environment really dares to say loudly and openly “Hey, what’s going on?” What does that have to do with business or an office? Nothing! What does it have to do with us? Everything! We may be servants, entrepreneurs, professionals or politicians, yet, we are also humans. We are dealing with customers or constituents who are also people, just like us. We all have feelings, don’t we? Or, am I missing something? It is important to express yourself openly.

As I’m working at my laptop I have my earphones on my head and listen to Marvin Gaye’s song “What’s going on”. Remember the lyrics? “Mother, mother, there’s too many of you crying…;  Brother,  brother…;  Father, father..” And most important the chorus: “You know we’ve got to find a way, to bring some lovin’ here today. What’s going on, etc.” Swaying to the music, thinking, writing, every now and then pausing while staring out of the window over the Caribbean Sea on this sunny day as I’m creating this article.


Let me tell you about some essentials. It is about friends. We all have friends, don’t we? In the working environment as well as in our private lives. Sometimes friends are close by, sometimes far away. However, we miss the opportunities to get in touch or to meet. Yet, the days go by and weeks rush on and before we know it, a year is gone. We know that we like each other but never see each other. No, we are too busy and too tired. Tired of playing foolish games trying to make money or to make a name for ourselves.

We tell ourselves that we will call our friend tomorrow just to say that we were thinking of him or her. But tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes and the distance between us grows and grows. The quintessence? Reach out and tell friends what they mean to you. Seize the day, because by postponing and by the time you decide to actually make the connection, it may too late and you have either lost something that was dear to you or you may have missed a valuable opportunity.

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it

Remember to always say what you mean. Don’t be afraid to express yourself. So, if you like something, tell it. If you don’t, don’t hold back either. That is what sincerity is about. Funny, isn’t it? Animals do it. Children do it. Adult people don’t. They are educated, civilized and have learned how to play games with feelings; their owns and of others. You are not allowed to show emotions. Just smile, even if it is fake. No matter if you have menstrual pains or if you have loved one at home who really would need you there. Keep a smile on your face and don’t dare to show even a watery eye because it may be interpreted as a weakness. So, you must learn to cry with dry eyes. How do you feel? Who cares! The show and the business must go on! But, wait a minute. Aren’t we also humans? Don’t we have a life?

Adapt some of it in your life

We should listen more often to artists. Long ago in Art Classes, I learned that Art is meaningful realization of feelings. So, what do artists do? For one they make a good amount of money by providing entertainment. And what is it that they give you? An opportunity to laugh with them or to cry with them, to listen or view their story, be it happy or sad, to dance on their music, to read their rhymes or to watch them how they express themselves in paintings or sculptures. And we like it. We want share emotions and feelings. We want to escape from holding back. That is why we turn on the TV after work or go to a party on Saturday night. Why can’t we show our feelings at work? Show our own art. Have someone to talk to about our sadness. Laugh to the point that it becomes contagious. Walk in a different way or take a different path. Wear a flower in your hair. Have a happy feeling. What will people think of you? “Man, this is the greatest person I’ve been with and just makes me feel awesome.” That’s what they will think of you.

You’ve got a friend

Let’s go back to the essence of calling an old friend. You have to make that call or send an email to make “the magic” work. As I progress writing this, I’m listening to a song by James Taylor called “You’ve got a friend”. Just read the lyrics, you don’t have to sing them; you may not have a good voice for singing anyway.

When you’re down and troubled and you need a helping hand and nothing is going right. Close your eyes and think of me and soon I will be there!
People can be so cold, they’ll hurt you and desert you. They’ll take your soul if you let them. But don’t you let them!
If the sky above you should turn dark and full of clouds and that old north wind should begin to blow, Keep your head together and call my name out loud and soon I will be knocking upon your door.
You just call out my name and you know wherever I am I’ll come running to see you again. Winter Spring summer or fall, all you’ve got to do is call!.
Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend? You’ve got a friend!

The last three lines were the chorus which is sung several times to put the emphasis on what you have to do. You’ve got to send that message or make that call.

Don’t let it become: “If the phone wasn’t ringing, it was me”.

Photo Cdr. Bud Slabbaert

About the author: Cdr. Bud Slabbaert is the Chairman and Coordinator of the Caribbean Aviation Meetup, an annual results and solution oriented conference for stakeholders of ‘airlift’ in the Caribbean which will be held June 16-18 on St. Maarten. Mr. Slabbaert’s  background is accentuated by aviation business development, strategic communication and journalism.