Cone Man the Roadman


Right; let me make myself perfectly clear – OCD is no laughing matter! And this post is not intended to poke fun at anyone who has OCD, or offend anyone who knows someone who has.

People living with OCD generally have symptoms of obsessions, compulsions,  sometimes both, and these symptoms can interfere with all aspects of life, such as work, school, and personal relationships. It can be a crippling condition.

As an Employment Consultant specializing in placing people living with disability I thought I knew a little bit about OCD and how it can effect people in the workplace. But last weekend I learnt a very valuable insight into the work life of someone living with OCD.

It was a cloudy Saturday morning and my family and I were driving from Nelson to Hanmer Springs, an alpine village famous for its beautiful hot springs.


Its about a 3.5 hour drive and we were driving down to meet with family and stay for the ANZAC Day Holiday weekend. ANZAC day is a day of national importance for NZ and as a family we try to spend ANZAC weekend together.

To learn more about ANZAC Day please check out my ANZAC post from 2 years ago:

Also, here’s Maddie singing ‘Lest we forget’, also from 2 years ago (she was 8)

So anyway!

About an hour and a half into our journey (just past Murchison) we were required to stop for Road Works. Being stopped is a bummer on any journey, but on a holiday weekend, and keen to catch up with loved ones, it seems especially so. luckily though we were the  first vehicle to be stopped, giving us a clear view of the road works ahead of us.

Graders were working furiously, clearing and tidying up the edges of the road as quickly as the could. Lollipop people holding stop go signs were stationed at either end of the road works, heads down, their eyes averted, trying to avoid contact with seething drivers (why do they do this on the weekend?)

But in the middle of this all this  – amongst  the activity and noise Cone Man was placing cones to create a one lane passage way for cars to pass through.

cone man 2

Please note this is not the real Cone Man

Cone Man was bloody good at his job. Bloody bloody good! As in the picture above the road works were close to a bend, but this didn’t stop him lining up all the cones so they were perfectly in line.  And when they weren’t in line he would make microscopic adjustments to  them – one at time. He was precision personified.  He would start at one end and then work his way back along the line to the other. Only then to find out the cones in the middle had mischievously moved out of alignment. So he would go back to sort them out, only to find that either beginning or end of the line was then out.

After ten minutes waiting and watching, I could see the importance of such a task, and in the spirit of generosity I genuinely wanted to get out and help him. If I had a theodolite, level and rod, even a simple measuring tape – I would have gladly gifted it to him.  Even, Kate and Maddie joined in too, shouting words of  encouragement.

‘to the left a little,’

‘to the right,’

‘no the other one’

‘go back, go back!’

Alas, with our windows closed, he couldn’t hear us.

After 15 minutes of waiting, it was our turn to proceed along the one lane passageway, past the Lollipop lady, who once again averted her eyes, past the graders, and as we approached and passed Cone Man, Kate wound down her window.

‘You’re doing a great job‘ – she offered, but all to no avail. Cone Man had his head down and was busy adjusting the cone in front of him by a few millimeters.

This week this little encounter has had me questioning my assumptions about suitable jobs for people living with OCD. And I know I am going to be more judicious about what might work and what won’t. I’m not sure being a Road Man does.

Kia Ora


ocd arrow



The Power of Words

Imagine if words lived!

Imagine if they breathed, had their own lives and could tell their own stories.

That they didn’t need the artificial constructs of human intelligence and imagination to assemble and order themselves.

Humans are constructed via DNA, words are constructed via letters – singular pieces of information or code when brought together create magic, harmony and beauty.


But what happens to all the words that don’t conform, the words who will never make a dictionary, simply because their code is jumbled, or their order is all wrong?

Words like:

Cajunctabke or fwert?

Some will say these words are hideous and should be hidden away forever, that they are mistakes and make the world a messier place.

I disagree.

All words are precious and the world doesn’t need to be an homogenized, sterilized and precise place.  So the next time you see a word that doesn’t quite fit, or a word that seems wrong – think before you castigate, after all it isn’t their fault their code doesn’t create the same aesthetic or is not as melodic as others. Because, after all words have lives and feelings too, and some words can hurt badly!

Of course the converse also applies – don’t treat people like, or just as words!

SOOCERR!                       RAYCKING

Disabled men playing soccer       specialneedsinspiration


kIA oRA rOlY

Photo credits to:

  • The Share Space
  • Future Living Org – Australia
  • APHA – Americian Public Health Assn



Being Human

<a href=””>Tart</a&gt;

I like listening to people; listening bestows upon those who take the time a very privileged position indeed.

It’s a privilege I always endeavor to respect, a privilege which enables me to meet some amazing people.

Last week I met a woman who was my age. She was born and bred in a city almost the same size as Christchurch. Had distance not been a barrier, we could easily have known each other. Certainly, there was no seven degrees of separation going on here. Maybe one, two at max.

Same age, same culture, same aspirations, but oh so different outcomes. The reason why?


da vinci

The person I was listening to had struggled with Fibro Myalgia since puberty – her hormones not only transforming her into a young woman, but also bringing on an illness which has plagued her adult life. The onset of her Fibro resulted in hospital stays as a teenager, meaning her schooling fell behind.

Falling behind at school, feeling ill, then losing contact with all her mates brought on a deep depression and her life spiraled out of control. Within a few years, a happy healthy young girl grew into a sickly depressed young woman who felt isolated and afraid. Shelived in pain; physically, emotionally and spiritually.


Fibro was not well understood in the 1970’s and 80’s. And, even some within the medical profession believed my clients symptoms and complaints more were closely related to my clients head, than her body. As a result she was eventually institutionalized in a psychiatric setting.

My client was painfully honest as she explained her story; it was told with candidacy and honesty, making it all the more disturbing. I was not shocked, I hear these types of stories from time to time. But what struck me about this person was her pride and her ability to separate Human Beings from being human.

It was obvious her ailments meant long-term sustainable employment was not possible. So, in order to get by my client explained that she became a tart and was on the game for twenty years. She told me it was the only employment that suited her ailments. It meant that she could work whenever she was well enough. It meant she could afford to live a modest lifestyle, but in a life which was  empty and degrading.


She told she was not proud of what she had done, but equally she also said she was not ashamed.

I said nothing, what could I say? She had said it all.

I thought back to when we were both kids. Our lives were probably much the same – running around the house and neighbourhood, running under the hose on hot summer days. I thought how we could have been friends, neighbours, how we could even have been family. I thought how it could easily have been me who was living with a disability.

Girl jumps through water sprinkler.

Girl jumps through water sprinkler.

At the end of our meeting I thanked my client for her honesty and I commented and complimented on her dignity. Then I thanked her for reminding me what it takes to be human.

Please note: In order to preserve confidentiality, the person I am describing above is actually a composite of 3 people. While their stories may be slightly different; the life lived as described above is a common one and very realistic.


Kia Ora Roly