Monday, October 15, 2012

Superhuman Patience Required

I will be the first one to admit that I am probably not the most patient person in the world. I am the one who will send a million follow-up e-mails or phone calls if my original request isn't responded to in a couple of hours. I'm that annoying person who will find countless ways to bring something up again and again until you confirm that what I want is okay. I am slightly obsessive about "getting things done" and I hate leaving unresolved matters sitting on my desk when I leave work at the end of the day.

However, having lived in China, up until August 31 (when we arrived in Botswana) I felt that as a world traveler and general citizen of the planet I had made respectable concessions to the very different attitudes about deadlines and productivity in general taken by non-American cultures. I saw myself as a relatively relaxed, take-things-as-they- come type person. With a couple of years of expat experience under my belt, I wasn't going to let a little bit of inconvenience get me down! No, I was way too well adapted for all that!

Fast forward seven weeks.

Things we have accomplished since we moved here are: We moved into our house, and we also finally have internet access and TV at home.

These are both monumental accomplishments, when you consider they were accomplished at all. For example, just gettin the internet set up was a feat of superhuman prowess. It required a handwritten memo from both me our house's previous occupant, as well as weeks of many, many phonecalls from the Embassy and Scott and me to our (not so) friendly neighborhood internet provider BotsNet. The culmination came last week when the BotsNet technician suddenly stopped taking the Embassy's phone call pleas to set us up over here, so we tried calling him on a different number in case he was screening. It worked! He apparently didn't recognize Scott's number and picked up on Friday afternoon; only to quickly hang up the phone once he realized who was calling. He hung up on us!! We were then unable to get in touch with him until today (Monday) when he at long last, finally agreed to come over and set up our internet. Not the landline though; we are still waiting for that one. Sigh.

Things we still need to get done: Receive our air & sea shipments; get our car title processing finished so that we can drive our car; have our landline set up; fix about a million and one little things that are broken in our new house. Each one of these chores has a long, sad story to go with it about delays from lost paperwork, irresponsible staff, and other little irritations that I will not bore you with because I have done enough complaining for one evening.

This whole post has been a roundabout way of saying that life in Africa so far is testing my patience in ways I never thought possible until I moved here. Yes, Botswana is a pleasant place to live, there are great travel opportunities, the people are nice, etc. But if you need to get anything done, just sit back and relax! It will not happen fast and it will not happen on your timetable. It'll get done when it's done, and there won't be a darn thing you can do about it in the meantime. I am trying my best to adapt but the efficient American in me is just too strong, and every once in a while - like on Friday afternoon when the tech hung up on us - my inner American girl wakes up and starts kicking! Maybe after two years I can train her to settle down, get a glass of wine and just stare into space for a while because you know what? There's no hurry at all.

No comments:

Post a Comment