Thursday, November 27, 2008


The other day, I was sitting in the administrative director’s office. I had agreed to take his place from time to time on our Centre in Ouaga to give him a much-needed break. He’s a valuable but overworked man who has to deal with… well, lots of administrative stuff! I’ve begun learning how to do a few of his many tasks, but am far from being able to handle anything that isn’t pretty simple yet. Each time I have to replace him, I pray that nothing complicated comes walking through my door or shows up in my e-mail box!

That morning, he had just dropped in to see how I was making out. Then he popped over to talk to someone in another office for a few minutes, leaving his keys and folders on the desk. Just a few minutes later, the receptionist came to inform me that there was someone waiting in reception to see me. I didn’t recognize the name and the receptionist was unclear about exactly what it was the man wanted. But I had my suspicions. It was probably someone coming to ask for money. Not sure how to handle this, I mentioned that the real Administrative Director was just in an adjoining office. “Yes, I already talked to him,” said the receptionist, “and he said that you would look after it.” Well, thanks a lot! With some reluctance, I ushered the stranger into my office.

Sure enough, it was a request for money alright. The stranger said that he had occasionally stayed at our Centre guesthouse in his former job as an educational inspector. But he no longer had that job and was now down on his luck. I asked a bunch of questions and got a bunch of information, none of which I could be certain was true. Scammers are a dime a dozen here and some of them are pretty creative. This fellow only wanted a handout of about $1200 to get him started back on his feet, enough to buy some food, some medicines for his father, a used motorcycle, etc, etc.. Well, I guess if you’re gonna ask, you might as well ask big!

Part way through talking with this man, the Administrative Director quickly came into the office and picked his keys and folders off the desk. Completely ignoring my look of desperation, he simply flashed me a smile and disappeared out the door! Ha! So much for help when I need it!

But I got him back! The next day, when he dropped in to see me, I told him that the stranger of the previous day had informed me that while he could not get any help from corporate funds, the Administrative Director had previously agreed to give him some money from his personal funds and that he had come that day to collect it. With as straight a face as I could manage, I went on to say that I had given the man a significant amount of money from the cashbox and had logged it in as a charge to the Administrative Director’s personal account.

You should have seen his face! He looked like he was going into shock! It was absolutely priceless. Then I cracked up. I just couldn’t hold a straight face any longer and began to howl with laughter. When the Administrative Director realized that I’d just been joking, he nearly collapsed with joy and relief! The moral of this story? Don’t mess with Mike! :)

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