I had a feeling it’d be one of those days, and that’s kind of how it turned out. The fact that we had a major donor proposal due to be submitted by 5pm today rather spoiled my weekend. To start the last minute work on bringing all the contributions together, I skipped the morning exercises and left for the office at 615am. This involved going under the bonnet, as the car battery had been left disconnected overnight, as I seem to have an electrical issue with the car which is draining power.
Work was intense – seeking last minute contributions, working to a looming deadline that couldn’t be shifted, while at the same time fending off several really important things that will have to wait till tomorrow. At the same time, due to my issues waiting for a US visa waiver (I’m due to travel on 30 August, I applied for a visa waiver on 11 August, but everytime I visit the website it says ‘Authorisation pending’ promising a result in 72 hours after application), I’m rushing through an application for a standard visa at the local embassy. A guy who helps me out, Lamin, was at the bank first thing to pay the visa fee (you have to pay cash at the bank and get a receipt). After three hours queuing, they told him that he needed my passport, which he came to get. After three more hours queuing, the told him he needed my application receipt. As I explained on the telephone to the man, none of this information was detailed on the website explaining how to pay the fee. At least they accepted a photo sent via Whatsapp.
Work finished late, I squeezed a session in the gym, and then on the way back from work my car lost all power, and came to a stop just as night fell, about 200m from the office. The car was supposed to go to the garage today to fix a probable alternator problem, but it didn’t because my friend was tied up at the bank on the aforementioned duty. I sat for 20 minutes on an unlit street waiting for help, with the added bonus of having taken the electric window down to handover an office key, and not being able to get it back up when the power failed. Mosquitoes are not my favourite creatures.
So an expectedly bad day. But there were some bright spots. I was trying to remind myself all day that these momentary dramas quickly lose their stress after a few weeks. In the scheme of things, they don’t amount to very much. In fact something similar was said on a podcast I was listening to this evening.
The other positives:
– After all that stress, the day is over, and here I am in a comfortable house, with electricity, and the chance to write down these things down. Even if I got home late, I still have a good hour of free time before bed.
– I’ll write a blog post soon on ‘right hand men’, but Lamin was really the hero of the day – he spent a rotten day queuing at the bank, and then rescued me this evening – swapping batteries so that my car could be deposited in the work car park and arranging a taxi to take me home.
– At the gym, I was alone with the new gym instructor, so he led me through a one-on-one training session. My shoulder injury from May still doesn’t allow much weight lifting but it’s slowly healing. The session made me feel good about my fitness and core strength.
– When the car broke down, I was not far from the gate, so I asked one of our security guards to sit with me while I waited for my rescue. We had a nice conversation, including him telling me about his plans to study economics at university. He didn’t know a huge amount about the subject, so I took him through a basic explanation of the demand curve. It takes a car break down for me to have a proper conversation with someone I see almost every day and get to know his life story, dreams and struggles.
– The taxi that took me back home, stopping for fuel at the local petrol station at a busy junction I pass everyday. I realise now that I miss West African taxi rides – it’s one of the things you no longer have in your life when you own a car. You get to observe so much more – the main thing is not having to drive and concentrate on the wild driving. But there’s also the fact that the windows are down (no air conditioning) so you feel closer to things. A busy West African junction is always full of interest, even at night.
So, light and dark today, and one person’s drama, is another’s refreshing life experience.