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Challenges, triumphs and the bit in between – Part One

January 26, 2010

Chris, and a couple of other people who used different methods, asked for more information on the day to day challenges of working out here in Botswana.

Today was a great example. One of those moments when everything that can go wrong does and everything cristalises into one big horrible mess.

Once we got through it, and I was eating my lunch (ok – low blood-sugar may have contributed to my frame of mind), I realised it’s exactly the sort of thing I should be sharing with you guys! So here you are. It’s quite long so I’m going to put it across two posts, but it was an eventful day so it takes a while to tell. I hope you enjoy, in that schadenfreude sort of way. I’ll post Part Two asap but I’m going to bed now.


Today is the first meeting of the new Standing Committee. They’re basically the equivalent of the Board of Directors in a company. The meeting will last all morning. About half way through it I will present the draft Strategy document, which outlines the focus for the Diocese for the next six years.

I have all my photocopies, in a nice neat pile. Even the large print version ready for the member of the committee who needs that. (Note to self, need more of those for the next one.) I’m a little nervous. I’m not a fan of talking to large groups, and there will be nearly 20 people here. But the impromptu dry run with the Bishop, Assistant Bishop, Dean and Diocesan Secretary went well – so it can’t be that bad, right?

Then as we were waiting for the Committee to arrive, I take a phone call. From the Office of the President.

The Nice Man to whom I’m talking is on his way over to meet see the Bishop to get some information from us. Information requested directly by His Excellency. And he needs it for a meeting at 2pm.

I have a vague idea what he’s talking about. I speak to the right people, it won’t be a problem. The Very Nice Man is happy to come by a little later instead. I can chill again. That is, I can go back to being slightly nervous, which requires concentrating really hard on taking minutes until it’s my turn to speak.

The meeting starts, business progresses. Slowly, but it progresses.

A couple of hours in, the Very Capable Person (VC), who is pulling together the information for the President is able to leave the meeting to sort it out, in plenty of time before the Very Nice Man arrives.

It’s all going well, but about half an hour before the Very Nice Man is due, VC asks me to come and quickly put something on a letterhead. The ‘something’ has already been written and is on a laptop – not the desktop with the letterhead. I’ve not yet installed the Dropbox on the laptop. VC’s email is chronically slow this morning, but that’s why they invented memory sticks, right? I don’t have a memory stick.

VC disappears, so I start copying what is says on the laptop onto the letterhead I have on the desktop. By copying, I mean I have the laptop open, and I’m typing what it says into the desktop. Old school with a techno twist baby!

About half way through VC reappears with a memory stick. Result! The memory stick goes into the desktop. Which just so happens to be the most important machine in the building. It holds most of the information that we really shouldn’t loose. And at the moment, it’s not backed up.

The memory stick has a worm. But it’s ok, because the desktop has an up-to-date virus checker which quarantines it straight off. The desktop freezes. Eventually it unfreezes, and I relax slightly, only to try to open a new window and have it freeze again. The tease.

At the same time, I’m trying to download images held in VC’s webmail, which will be included in the information sent to the President. That would be the webmail that is chronically slow, over an ADSL line with a registered and seemingly permanent fault.

And the meeting has progressed to a point where I should probably be presenting the Strategy.

And it’s probably time I ate something, or at least had something to drink.

And the Very Nice Man turns up.

Clearly, we’re not ready. VC talks to him, takes him through the papers that are ready, while I do battle with desktop and laptop simultaneously. The desktop refuses to reboot. The laptop refuses to download.

I know what you’re thinking. “Why don’t you turn it off and back on again?” I turn it off. I turn it back on in Safe Mode. I get a black screen with a list of files it’s allegedly opened, then a ‘Please Wait.’

I wait, and turn my attention to the laptop which is finally downloading the images I need. Someone somewhere must have taken their foot off the wire.

The Very Nice Man returns. He is smiling, but I still have no hard copy of the letter to give him. Don’t worry, just put it in an email – that will be fine, it’s not a problem at all. He’s a Very Very Nice Man. He could almost work for the AA.

Somebody (not me) promises him it will be with him before he’s back in his office. I gulp, and point out that I have a broken computer. Everybody smiles. They’re sure I can fix it. It’s taken me an hour to fail to do a 10 minute job. I try to remember that breathing deeply helps these situations. I completely forget Lesson 4.

Then I find out that if Standing Committee are to have lunch they need to arrive at the YWCA at 12.30.

It’s 12.20. They have at least an hour to go. I want to cry. Clearly I need some sugar, but I’m too stressed to realise it. Today is not going well.

Continued asap…

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