Friday, April 27, 2007

An Africa Day

An Africa Day being a day in which not much gets done when you prefer that things did get done.

Much like our mistake with Sarge’s gender, it turns out our cleaning person is not named Joan, as we’ve assumed for the past three weeks, but Joanne. (Conveniently I can still abbreviate as Jo.) Yesterday morning I brought her to N.’s to clean his place and P. was there picking N. up. P. had previously mentioned to N. that he knew of no Ugandan named Joan. When they met, P. and Jo. conversed a bit in Luganda and then P. turned to us and said, “Yes, it is Joanne.” N. immediately understood. I remained in the dark for a few more seconds until N. explained things and then I felt like a real asshole (an increasingly common occurrence, it seems). Fortunately Jo. seemed amused by the whole thing. She seems amused by many things I do. Like, after N. and P. left, she pointed to a large snail on N.’s deck and asked if she needed to remove it. I told her to leave it, not feeling that snail removal needed to be in her job description. She seemed to think I was playing a good joke on N. While not my original intention...

After these discoveries, I left Jo. at N.’s and went back to our apartment. I called the garbage collection place, called Bin-It, so we could start having garbage pick-up. Over the phone I arranged to have it picked up Mondays and Fridays, up to three bags each pick-up. Bin-It said they would send someone over with the contract and the bags we're supposed to use so pick-up could start the very next day. They said the person would arrive sometime around 10:00am.

At this point, I was quite proud of myself. I had been dreading calling Bin-It as I was bound to encounter communication problems, but things had gone smoothly, as far as I could tell.

By 11:30 there was still no sign of anyone from Bin-It, despite three phone calls to check up on them. Jo. needed gloves to do the dishes and I needed to run to the store to get them. I also told her I would bring her to Kisemente, an area in the opposite direction from where I expected to find the gloves, to get some lunch. I called Bin-It and they said they would now send someone after 2:30. I went to one store, but they didn't have gloves. On my way to the next store, the Bin-It guy called and said he was on his way to my house. Why don’t I find this surprising?

I found the gloves, and got in a check out line, which was quite long. None of the registers seemed to be working and, more importantly, no one seemed to be doing anything about it. We all waited. Another register opened and we all rushed to get in that one, no one paying any attention to who had been waiting longer and who deserved to be at the front. Those at the back of the original line were now in front.

The lady now first in line put her purchases through. The register broke. We waited. Eventually, another register opened.

I finally got back to the house around 12:30. At 1:00 I picked Jo. up at N.’s to take her to get some lunch. We opened the car doors and right then it started to rain. "The laundry," Jo. said. N.'s laundry was hanging up on the line out back. She left to bring it in. I sat in the car. And sat in the car. And sat in the car...

I'm back at the house by 2. K., who we got the kittens from, sent a text message asking if she can drop off their kitten, Koozi, at 4:15. I say yes, even though I needed to bring Jo. to the taxi station at 4 and J. was waiting at Kabira for me to pick him up around that time.

By 3:30 the garbage people still haven't come despite countless phone calls. I went back to N.’s to get Jo. to bring her to the station early. She did not seem to understand the urgency.
I asked her if she was ready to go. She said, “Almost.” She sat down to eat a snack.

I'm back at the house by 4:00. No garbage man, not even a phone call. Kim arrived at 4:25. The kittens did not like each other. I left anyway and went to Kabira where Jason had entered another meeting but it meant I could work out. Good news.

Fifteen minutes into my run, the treadmill suddenly stopped and told me there's an error. It won't start up again. I got on another, but it was lumpy. I got on another, also lumpy. I got on another. I started running. Another fifteen minutes and it suddenly stopped with another error message and it won’t start up again no matter how many times I hit it in frustration. I got on a whole different type of treadmill, but I had lost all momentum. I gave up. I stretched. I did my sit-ups. I called J. He was still not ready to leave. I drank water. I watched CNN on mute. I sat and listened to my iPod. I waited.


Anonymous said...

Two things Han; learn the language, and get used to there being no sense of urgency nor commitment to time - Dad

hannah said...

And third, it would help if I could switch my gender. Then at least people like the Bin-It guy might take me seriously.

Anonymous said...

So, "BIN-IT GUY" ever show up?
(I just realized that I could add comments -- this is awesome!)