Thursday, September 8, 2011
Today was one of those no-good-very-bad days. It didn’t involve getting stuck with the blue pair of shoes (is that how the story goes?), but it was something of a crummy day nonetheless. I woke up with what felt like a big cold coming on - sore throat, stuffy nose, you know how it is. I wanted to stay in bed, but instead had to proctor a three hour mock exam for our second year students. (Incidentally, instead of the word proctor, they use the word “invigilate” here - sounds way more exciting than it is!). Then, while at home making lunch, our gas tank ran out. This meant that: 1) we had to eat a flavorless lunch of posho and beans again and 2) we would have to pay 90,000 schillings (about $40) to get a new one and carry the super heavy tank to the petrol station and back. After walking to the petrol station we found that they had increased the price of a gas refill and we didn’t have enough money to buy the refill. So, I rushed back home to get more cash and, in my rush, I slipped and covered my favorite pair of birkenstock sandals in thick, nasty, mud. Back at home, some men appeared in our backyard to let us know that they were disconnecting our water due to nonpayment of our bills. As it turns out, the college has not delivered any of our water bills to us and, subsequently, the water at our home has not been paid for in over four months. Oops! We hoped to relax and get some things done around the house in the afternoon, but instead I got called in to invigilate yet another exam for a tutor who, for whatever reason, didn’t show up to do his job. This meant that in the last two days I had “invigilated” (aka watched with overpowering boredom) twelve hours of mock exams!
But, then, in the midst of small talk with one of my Ugandan coworkers I was forced to think about my situation in a whole new light. I asked if he had gotten his children off to school for the new term, but he said that he had not. Unfortunately, he could not send them back to school because he did not have the money to afford school fees. The reason he could not afford school fees was that his salary from working at the college had not been paid since April. APRIL! He has been getting by, supporting a family, with absolutely no income for over four months!!!
It’s amazing how a five minute chat can make a no-good-very-bad day seem like nothing to complain about at all. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective...