Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Missed It!

We just got back from an extended weekend in the village with our visitor from Canada. And during that time, I missed a terrific opportunity to play yet another prank on our Administrative Director in Ouaga!

Late last week, a man came to the office wanting to talk with him, to “explain his situation” as the saying goes here. This is a sure sign that no matter what or how long the story is, the person is basically looking for a handout. People are very creative here! The admin director himself happened to be walking down the hall at that moment, so the receptionist cornered him. Sure enough, he passed the guy off to me again, saying that I’d look after it.

A young man came into my office (I was in effect replacing the admin director that day) and said that he was a medical student from Mali, attending the University of Ouagadougou on a grant from his country’s government. However, the money had stopped coming 8 months ago. He had managed to survive and continue his studies till now, but at this point needed two packages of printer paper to print his thesis (numerous copies, obviously). Judging by the quality of the clothes he was wearing, he was surviving pretty well, but I wasn’t about to get into all that.

Although I couldn’t extend him any help from our organization, I said that I might be able to help him on a personal level. However, since he had no proof whatsoever of what he was telling me, I told him that I needed something to verify his story. He said he would get it and left. He’s not been back (I’m not surprised).

So where did I blow my opportunity to play a prank on our esteemed admin director? Knowing I was going to be away part of next week, I should have turned the tables on him. I should have told the young man from Mali to come back on Monday, that he would receive the packages of paper at that time. I would still have been in the village and the admin director himself would have been back in the office. Touché! It wouldn’t have been as good a joke as the time a few months ago when I told him that I’d given someone (that he said I’d deal with) several thousand francs CFA out of his personal account in accordance with his instructions, but I’d have loved to see his reaction nevertheless :)

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