When change bites you on the butt

This unintended consequence of change left a disgruntled woman with horrible hair but it could leave others scarred.

This unintended consequence of change left a disgruntled woman with horrible hair but it could leave others scarred.

Published Apr 7, 2024


Durban — Unintended consequences.

They can bite you on the butt if projects aren’t thoroughly considered.

While the couch project management committee was recently researching some of the fundamentals of change, we found a variety of opinions and “general rules”.

The belief that “change is the only constant in life” is attributed to Greek philosopher Heraclitus, and Confucius said: “Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.”

With no MBA and only basic project and change management training, I suspect anticipating unintended consequences is not high on the general to-consider list.

This gripe has been stewing for some time during a run of trials and rejections.

The picture above this column is about 100 years old. It has not been updated in our system simply because the couch started in the chaos that was Covid, the biggest, most world-changing and painful disruptor humanity had seen over such a short time. It was placed there for expediency and became the face of the couch.

But the hair, man. That bright red bush was my “signature”. A colleague once told me he would love to run barefoot through it. It was also an office GPS: “Look for the lady with the bright red hair and she will show you.”

The funniest anecdote sprung from an encounter in a parking lot when the sunshine made it a beacon.

A shocked and horrified older woman said – more like shouted – to her companion: “Haai, ky’ daa’ie haar kleur!” I was too busy muffling laughter to see what her “haar kleur” was, but I suspect it was the same as the reason I embraced the loud red: loads of grey.

It had been that way since late teens, and was an opportunity to play; blonde, black, auburn, shaved, “witch” berry – all had their chance. But it was Fiery Red that fit and when it came to buying the “kleur”, only the most outrageous one would do.

It was DIY because a salon held the same attractions as a dental chair. Too much down-time, small talk and not always open when the grey needed to go. None of them would go over the bright cliff with me and it was bloody expensive to pay for a dull shade of brown.

Now it’s a wild grey mop because the dogs don’t care. But the one thing I want is for it to be “runnable barefoot through” and to get my “comb” – an old stainless spaghetti server which doubles as a back scratcher – through it. For that, you need a decent conditioner. And if housebound, it has to be deliverable.

Which brings me to the gripe. For years, I had the perfect conditioner. Soft, pretty-smelling, unknotted combable hair. And no awful (IMO) coconut sunscreen-like smell.

For some reason, out of the blue, the manufacturers put their treasure in a new! improved! bottle. For the designers and marketers, it may have looked more modern and attractive, but for crippled old arthritic hands it’s impossible. When it was exposed to the challenging bend-it-and-squeeze-it-out-like-toothpaste treatment, the bottle split, spewing conditioner out of the side hole and requiring a third hand to hold, squish and catch. It was donated to younger, stronger hands.

That’s at least one regular, long-time satisfied customer lost and miserably trying to find a replacement. I’m now on brand four and looking.

It’s possible I am the only disgruntled old woman with horrible hair. This may be just hair but a word to the wise: if you’re considering changing things, beware the sharp teeth of unintended consequences.

Independent on Saturday