I woke up with the determination to get something done!
During orientation a few weeks earlier, we were told that we would have to “change your idea of success” and that is what I was doing. I performed my morning ritual and decided to wear a new blazer to add a little oomph to my outfit. Since I spoke to [my contact] at the embassy the afternoon before, I was under the assumption that I would be in and out in a few minutes. Because I had such high hopes, I even carried some U.S. currency to convert at the bank within the compound (for security reasons, I cannot use outside banks). We—my neighbor (and fellow foreigner), the driver and I—arrived a little earlier than anticipated and let our contact (who then delegated the task of coming to meet us to someone else) know that we were at the entrance. Since this was my umpteenth visit in the week and a half since I had arrived, I was well aware of the security procedures and even left my bag and cell phone in the car as a precaution.
As I walked towards the visitor’s entrance, I was stopped by security. I flashed my US passport and gave my “bonjours” but was told I had to wait outside. As they spoke in the native language (unaware that I understood) they “complimented” my outfit and look. When I replied in said language they laughed and told me I was too beautiful to go in and had to wait outside with them (that’s when I rolled my eyes ever so hard). So there I waited and waited until the guards started to feel sorry for me as I was wearing heels. After making my way inside (20 minutes later, mind you), I met with another group of way-too-flirty guards and played nice (because what else can you do in these situations?). I had buzzed twice to no avail. A full 45 minutes after waiting, I had the necessary documents in my hand and made the journey to my office (I use the term office loosely). We dropped my neighbor off and made our way across town. The power-tripping [security] guard at the second gate gave me the same talk he always does and I headed with a mission to Mr R.
Mr R., the director of the office where I was placed, told me the afternoon before (on my first day) that I should not return without my authorization papers and that was the reason I had to go to the embassy that morning in the first place. I walked in and exchanged pleasantries with the staff (it was now shortly after 10 a.m.). I asked his secretary if he was in and was told he was in a meeting. I proceeded to my desk to kill some time. It was about 10:30 a.m. when one of his senior deputies—Mr. A— made his way to his office (which is across from my desk). Mr. A spotted me and offered [me] some coffee, I accepted and then asked about the meeting.
“Oh, Mr R is on a site visit, he will not be in for the rest of the day. It would be best if you just go home,” Mr. A said.
And, just like that, it was over! I spent all that time sitting in traffic and making nice with douchey security guards only to be sent home. During my interrogation the afternoon before, Mr R neglected to tell me that he, in fact, would not be in the office and I had no point in coming in since I was not authorized (to the best of his knowledge) to be there. So there it was, I waited a few minutes for the driver on staff to bring me home. What a waste of an outfit! All of that, just to go to the bathroom and drink some coffee. You better believe I wore the same exact thing to the office the next day! That is just one of my third world revelations!
The Storyteller Chronicles are a random collection of anonymous narratives told by the women who are usually charged with telling other women’s stories here on The Common Ground Chronicles. It is our way of giving you a glimpse of who we are and what makes us tick. Check out the last chronicle, “The Storyteller Chronicles: Lobster Roll “Lunchin” if you missed it; and, scroll to the bottom of the page and click The Storyteller Chronicles category or tag to read all of the pieces in this series.
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