After a couple years working in the field, especially if you are young and ambitious (read – willing to be exploited and optimistic) you come to realize that there seems to be a lot of nonsense being served up.
Now I still remember my dad’s advice to play well with others but it seems as if there are a lot of people out there who didn’t get the same advice.
Some of my top learning to play well with others moments include:
– Being held up by workshop participants for petty cash. I was so burnt out I asked them to just go ahead and cut me. My logic, if I died, the absurtity of my life would be over, if I lived I’d be medi-vac’d out and sipping a martini in 48hrs.
-Being sent into a basement room with harsh florescent lighting and being asked, ‘who is your minder?’ by the lead donor on a project. They kept me there an hour.
– Attending an expat party with very few Africans present. Obviously I’m African. After politely rejecting the advances of an Eastern Euro mercenary type he switches to inquiry, ‘Why don’t you want to sleep with me?. Then after some deep (as much as you can muster when you are seeing two of me) reflection he says, ‘oh yes now I understand, every one of you has a price’. <<sigh>> I would have retorted that he couldn’t afford me but working near the Congolese border and not knowing what he did for a living, I decided that I shouldn’t press my luck.
– The woman who dressed up her stunted baby after we showed some interest in the child (read feeling guilty when you realize an 4 month old baby is actually a year and a half). Your Arabic isn’t so good so it takes a while to realize she’s asking you to KEEP her baby. You then spend 20 minutes explaining the intricacies of New York City apartment living.
All time favorite recuring moment:
– When a Minister/SG/PS/Chief is finally able to trick you into an evening meeting at his office. You realize you’ve been duped when he locks door and explains how happy he is that you’ve been assigned to work with him. You now realize that your cute Hugo Boss/JCrew etc.. pencil skirt may – in retrospect – manages to be too revealing.
So if you are young and feeling not so young (read still getting annoyed at the daily doses of nonsense) I’m with you in spirit.
Ok, in India, they’re not so foreword, you get “wanna do frensip” or the more eloquent, “you’re glowing today” after a week of such hard work that you’ve got bags under your eyes that could carry water!
The worst is the patronising attitude – “hello, I would like to introduce you to these young girls and boys who work here!”
You can just see all your work being swept aside with that statement. After that you just want to roll your eyes in despair