For the last I don’t know how many days now, he’s been giving me crap about the way I dress.
“Stop wearing skirts! Look at those sandals! How do expect to run and escape dressed like that?”
I’ll give him this: we were in Liberia, in the middle of a civil war. We’d hear shooting nightly – hear of wounded being cared for at the Red Cross hospital. So technically there would be a chance that we would have to escape. But to where? Our house was on the seashore for crying loud. Swim to safety to the warships floating around? Should I have been walking around in my bathing suit just in case? And on top of that, it’s not like I was on the front lines! I am just the bloody administrator… the champion of life saving excel spreadsheets – c’est moi! The only time I ever left the office was:
- To go to grocery shopping (ok let’s be honest, I didn’t buy groceries, the cook did that, I go buy cookies or tampons),
- To order pizza from the restaurant the next door,
- To go to the bank.
So really, the only time I was an actual target was during my trips to the bank. Plus, the way I figure it, was I really a target because I was going to the bank? I mean, if I was taken or whatever at the bank, then 200 people wouldn’t get their salaries … so instead of an angry and frightened life saving excel spreadsheet master on their hands, they’d have 200 unpaid people with families to feed. You know they would find the perpetrators faster than any international negotiator or whatever my organization sent. But hey, what the hell do I know? And anyway… I think he just liked yelling at me.
The scolding got worse since I reminded him to add tampons in the emergency box. Buddy gets a whole box together for us in case we are attacked and have to bunker down at the house or in the office (which were the same building, by the way – the reason I never left). He includes smokes, whiskey, beer, canned food, toilet paper – but no effin’ tampons? SERIOUSLY? Hey, if we’re trapped and it’s that time of the month and I don’t have my tampons – you’ll have better luck with the soldiers than with me.
So since that day, the complaints about how I dressed in case of attack had begun; which I dutifully ignored, of course. Then came my Larium (sic) day. There were only a few of us taking anti-malaria medication – for some it made them sick, too sick to take them (understandable). Some would have violent reactions. I had a colleague who tried to choke her boyfriend to death while sleeping when taking the medication (or so she said … she always was a bit nuts, that one). Others felt they could outwit the ever-fearsome mosquito (idiots). I was neither of those, and took my meds regularly, and complained about it just as regularly. And that’s when it happened…
I woke up the next day, took a refreshing cold shower as usual (no, not refreshing… just bloody cold), and proceeded to get dressed. I figured as a peace making gesture I would try and follow his rules. So instead of my usual skirt and blouse and sandals, I did as I had been told so many times:
- Have your escape bag ready (no more than 10kg please!) and check it daily. I added tampons to mine, as I had no faith in him at all,
- Wear the organization’s t-shirt (with an undershirt underneath please, as it could see-through),
- Wear clean underwear (ok I always wore clean underwear – I swear! But this day I chose comfy grandma-style undies – easier to run in those versus a thong),
- Wear socks and runners.
Man was I ever proud of myself. I went down the stairs to breakfast congratulating myself on the potential expression on his face. I of course imagined many variations of this expression. What I did not expect was for him to continue yelling at me. This time it was worse than usual. What the? The others arrived; some shouting, most laughing… and me mid-stairwell, completely confused. As the shouting and hilarity continues, I look down and notice that I forgot my pants! OMG I forgot my pants. Of course, I woke up laughing, the vision of me at the top of the stairs in my organizational t-shirt and granny undies fresh in my mind.
At breakfast, I asked for specifications as to the type of pants I should wear in case I needed to escape – and then laughingly told him about the dream. I was, of course, wearing my usual skirt and sandals. They were flats though, just in case. And I never complained about taking my anti-malarial medications again.