Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tales from the office

Poor Ezra! He’s the administrator for the internet café where the Life in Africa Foundation has its offices in Kampala. All week he’s had to deal with the man I’ve titled Annoying Peace Corps guy and it’s amazing Ezra continues to show up at all.

The first day he shows up, I’m sitting in the café, working on my laptop and entertaining the infant son of one of the other Life in Africa members when this white haired white guy wearing shorts and a gray T-shirt comes in and sees me, the only mazungu in the room, and asks, “Are you in charge here?” No, indeed, and I direct him to Ezra. Ezra spends much of the afternoon helping him as he gripes about everything.

I peek over his shoulder one time, which is bad, but I’m curious. He is working on a resume, proclaiming at the top that he is a Peace Corps volunteer who has been in Uganda for the past two years. His goal is to be hired to a high level position for a non-profit (or NGO) working in sub-Sarahan Africa. He states often and loudly how this is due soon, in two days, tomorrow.

The computers never work for Annoying Peace Corps guy. Files never save. He can never find the file he wants. Linux is too complicated and confusing for him to use and he wants to know why the café doesn’t have Word. He has to move from computer to computer to computer. He has to come back another time. Ezra needs to refund his money because he lost his files or the computer quit on him. And yet he comes back day after day to work in this internet café though there are two others in the neighborhood.

One night as I’m leaving, I ask Ezra what time he gets in in the morning since he is always there before me. He arrives at about 7:30. And what time does he leave, since he’s always there when I go. He leaves around 10 at night.

The next morning, it’s pouring rain and Kevin (the young woman who cleans the offices) and I arrive before 10. Ezra is not there. He comes at about 10:15, saying “I thought I would be the first one in.” He boots up the computers. Then boots them again because they don’t connect to the internet. They are taking their time.

Annoying Peace Corps guy arrives and Ezra tells him the computers aren’t up yet. Annoying Peace Corps guy’s documents are due today, so he’s going to go to another café. Fine by all of us.

At about noon, the computers go down. Ezra gets out his tool kit and loses some of his amazing composure. “I’m about ready to put up a sign saying, ‘Internet Café not yet open,’” he says as he crawls under the desks and begins fiddling with wires.

Annoying Peace Corps guy stalks in and says to Ezra who is under a desk, “All of my files have been erased because your computers have a virus!” I cannot hear Ezra’s response. Annoying Peace Corps guy says, “I’m coming back here later and I need to use THAT computer,” pointing at the computer with Word as its operating system, “and pull all my documents out, and I’d better be able to,” and leaves.

All I can think to myself is, Sir, are you sure you want to be working in Africa?

1 comment:

qoe said...

Just goes to show: difficult, high maintenance people can show up anywhere. I cannot imagine a person with the attitude you describe as being of any interest at all to potential employers!