These last two days – the weekend – have been recruitment days at our college. Parents come in to inquire about schooling for what is still called A-levels in Malaysia. We are an A-level school, although we do not use that term; we call it pre-university, which is more generic.

Generally I enjoy the conversations I get with parents and students. Having been here for four years I know pretty much everything you can ask me about the various programs here, and I like promoting our particular Canadian brand of education, which according to the PISA test carried out by UN’s OECD is among the best in the world. (

I do pretty good at it too, judging by the numbers I recruit and the positive feedback I get from my peers and superiors. In fact I’ve garnered a bit of a reputation for my effective presentations. But this blog is actually more about my weaknesses than my strengths. What do you notice about the picture above? Well there are two things I could point out. One is that there is nobody here: not parents, not counselors, not even cleaning staff. This is because it was 8 o’clock in the morning when I took this picture, and the session doesn’t start until 9.

That’s my weakness. You see after all these years I have come to understand that I am a little bit OCD (my family and colleagues could have told you that years ago). This is why I wake up at 4 am so I can leave the house by 7, and why I am at work at 7.30 when my first class is at 10:30. I have tried staying home, but I just can’t: it eats at me. When the kids were little and we had to drive somewhere I would load them into the car in their jammies at 5 am so I could get going. My poor family!

You think this is normal? Have another look at the picture. Do you see that all the chairs around each table are one colour? If you looked closely you would see the chair legs each straddle the table legs. I did that. Took about twenty minutes (yes, I was here at 7:30) to sort out the colours, which as any sane person would have left the way they were, with the colours all mixed up. Do you see what I mean now? I have a problem.

When I worked at Locke’s I would start coming in about mid-August. I would turn every table upside down, clean out all the gum and stuffed paper notes, right the tables and clean them, and then put them all in order. Next was the drawers and cupboards. Every door got realigned, every door handle tightened. Then I would sort out the bookshelves and finally the science equipment. By the time classes started I could tell you where every book and test tube was in the entire facility.

Some of this is useful. Knowing where all the equipment was would save me hours of looking for whatever another staff member wanted. It also saved the school considerable expense. Nothing was ever stolen, either in science or shop equipment for all the years I worked in the Board. That is because I would do a tool or equipment check at the end of every period. If anything was missing, I could see the space.

How bad is my OCD? Not bad. All the chairs are mixed up again, and I have no inclination to straighten them out. Pam is constantly messing up the cupboards, and I don’t ever say anything to her (although I do straighten them up when she goes away). I don’t think it is getting any worse, as I age, in other words. But I will probably be a weird old man. Someday. (Oh yeah, the title of the post? What do the initials say? LOL! I’m sick!)