01 February 2008

Reference recalcitrance

I just finished my fourth week of work, and am enjoying it a lot so far. Although I have obviously been accepted for the classroom assistant post, my school wishes to have a pair of references to burnish my personnel file.

So, since school reopened on January 7, they have been in touch with my old headmaster from Njau (currently in Slough, working at a "car supermarket"), and my former boss at a research institute in DC. The former came through with a general form from my school, but has yet to send in a short handwritten letter supporting my appointment. Master did once fax over an old letter, which spliced together two different recommendations that were composed in the past - a general one, and another for a UK grad school application. As for the DC-based reference, she assured me that her reference was submitted, but nothing has come. I hold out hope that Master will send off his handwritten note soon.

Given the abject failure of my DC reference, I have turned to a second Gambian supervisor - which may be putting too many eggs in one basket. Still my old boss with Peace Corps says she will respond to a reference request from my school. She only got the email a week ago, so I will give her some time.

Public Transport a la Afrique Occidentale

Yesterday, as I was returning home from a band's album launch (replete with free cupcakes) I let a couple of old women enter the bus before me. I thought this is reasonable move, but received a light shove in the back for my efforts. I turned around to discover a miffed old man who seemed in a hurry to get on the bus.

This desire to get on the bus first (though not the surliness) reminded me of getting transport in West African cities. When a gelegele/tro-tro or share taxi pulls up, there is much jostling and pushing to get in the vehicle first (one also has to be mindful of pickpockets while battling for a place). This is by and large a good-natured competition, though.

Still, it was a bit ridiculous that this elderly man was getting angry about entering the bus, when there were ample seats available. But it wasn't something for me to get agitated about, and I could only chuckle at what people take seriously here.

No comments: