Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Some Days Are Less Fun Than Others…

…And I had one of those days on Monday. It all started with a long day at the office. And ended with me squealing like a schoolgirl in front of Flora—my landlord—and her two small grandchildren, my housegirl Jackie, the askari (night security guard for the complex), and some random dinner guests of Flora. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

One of the slightly annoying things about living in a different time zone from your coworkers and superiors is oddly-timed conference calls. On Monday I had one at 8pm, which on most days finds me eating dinner and relaxing in the comfort of my home. But that day I had a lot of work to do so I decided to just stay at the office and take the call there. One small problem—my office has TERRIBLE cell phone reception. So compound that with someone calling from roughly 6,000 miles away, you basically have a connection that sounds like you are talking through a towel in a wind tunnel on top of a mountain (i.e., bad connection). So after taking the call, I quickly realized that this wasn’t going to work. Fortunately, I have pretty good phone reception at home so I asked my colleague to call me back in 15 minutes, hopped on a boda, and headed home.

Unfortunately boda drivers don’t always make the smartest decisions. And on this day when I was in a huge hurry, my driver decided to risk taking me home with an apparently empty tank. And seriously, I probably live 2 miles tops from my office, so he must have been running on fumes when he picked me up. But I was unaware of his poor decision until about halfway up the GINORMOUS hill to my house when the boda sputtered a few times and died. “Fuel is finished,” my astute driver stated matter-of-factly as I scowled at him. Ugh! Oh well, I thought to myself, another boda will come along shortly. Normally this is the case, but on this day the cosmos were aligned against me and there was apparently no boda within a 200 mile radius (ok, so perhaps I’m exaggerating, but this is how it seemed at the time). So I had no choice but to run the approximate mile home. With my computer, motorcycle helmet, and other heavy accoutrements. Straight uphill. In the rapidly approaching dark.

By the time I huffed and puffed up the hill, cursing the whole way, I was breathless and tired. Exactly how you want to sound on a conference call, right? Oh, just wait… I ran into my adorable and sparklingly clean apartment (just don’t judge based on the forthcoming event) and ran towards the bathroom so I could splash some water on my face. And as I neared the sink, my bare toe brushed against something crunchy and crawly. I looked down in horror and saw the LARGEST. COCKROACH. OF. MY. LIFE. And horror of horrors, it was thisclose to my foot. ICK! Now I am by no means a girly girl when it comes to bugs and such, and I can handle a lot of things. But cockroaches are not one of those things. In fact, they are pretty much my biggest nightmare. And this one was seriously the size of a small turtle.

Now, under normal circumstances, I might freak out a little bit, but then collect myself and do something about the offending creature. But after my anger at my boda driver and my sprint up Mount Naguru, I was anything but normal. So I did what any irrational person would do in this situation. I flipped out. I ran into the yard with my arms flapping above my head and my voice eight octaves higher than normal. And was greeted by all the people mentioned in the first paragraph who were busy going about their Monday evening business when rudely interrupted by a crazed mzungu. “My… bathroom… big… BIG… bug… please… help!” was all I could manage. Jackie—my ever intrepid housegirl—took one look at my blood-drained face and burst out laughing. Then she followed me into the apartment where the bug was nowhere to be found. I scanned the room and realized that the last place the bug had been seen was next to a giant pile of my freshly cleaned laundry that I hadn’t put away that morning (that’ll teach me). Then Jackie—trying to be helpful—said “don’t worry, they won’t hurt you! The only time they are really scary is when they fly into your hair!” FLY? The cockroaches here fly? As I’m processing this dreadful piece of information, the phone rings—my conference call! I promptly burst into tears.

As I was in tears and completely off my rocker, I decided to ignore the phone. It seemed like a bad idea to talk to my boss while panting and crying, and there was still the issue of the missing cockroach in my clothes. She’ll call back, I told myself. And that’s exactly what happened. Jackie found the bug—under my shelving unit, thankfully not burrowed in my jeans—disposed of it, laughed at me a little more, and then patted me lovingly on the back. And little Nicholas (Flora’s grandson)—angel that he is—took my hand gently and told me in all his five-year-old wisdom that cockroaches frightened him as well. With that, I pulled myself together, dried my eyes, and managed to stop hyperventilating just as my phone rang again. I answered in my calmest voice and went on with my life. And today, when I arrived home to my lovely little apartment, Flora informed me that she would be fumigating tomorrow so that I “never had to be scared again.” I love this place, in spite of its giant flying bugs…

1 comment:

Kate said...

This is hilarious! You should stay in Africa a long time so I can keep reading your funny bug stories :)