Have you ever met a person that drives you crazy? Have you ever started off the day saying “I am going to be patient with him/her today, I am going to try and keep my calm” but to no avail? Every time that person succeeds at pushing your buttons and driving you up the wall.
A few days ago, I had again decided that I would try my best to work with my counterpart. I didn’t want to be the one to burn the bridge. He does not listen, does not respect boundaries although I tell him constantly that I do not appreciate him doing things such as popping up at my house unannounced (which is not the culture here either), he is demanding, was upset that I am an not an environmental expert, and he speaks inappropriately about me with his colleagues in front of me (the only reason I know is because one of them said in English that they needed to stop because I understood some Amharic..although I actually didnt understand what they were saying) Overall, we just don’t click. But, I wanted to try my best to find patience to work with him. I wanted to try and find a way for us to connect.
Well that was a few days ago, today is a new day and I’ve had enough! I have a meeting tomorrow with the Peace Corps and the department head of my community. Peace Corps wants to meet with the community to introduce what the Peace Corps is and who I am. You’re counterpart is supposed to help you invite the members of the community, but we haven’t been working together. Instead, I have been working with another organization that took me around town and helped me invite the different departments. I had decided that I would still invite his department to the meeting, but I would explain to Peace Corps that he was no longer my counterpart and therefore should not introduce him as so. I was worried that the community would think that they should go to him if they need help from me. I had decided long ago, that he would not be the main person that I worked with. However, if I ever needed to work with him I wanted to keep that door open.
Unfortunately, Peace Corps had already called him and told him about the meeting. So, he wanted to resume the counterpart roll. Last night at 11pm, he texted me and said “tomorrow at 8am I will come to your house and take letter Peace Corps gave to you.”
This morning he came over and I handed him the letter. I than explained that I had a meeting and had to go. Somewhere in that twisted mind of his, he had made other plans, and told me that I am going to the office with him today. I told him that I already have obligations and wont be going. I dont appreciate that he likes to drop in and tell me what I am going to do that day. Since, I work with other organizations I have my own schedule. When I did try and work with him, he would always cancel the meeting a half an hour after it was supposed to start. Truth be told, I was lying. I didnt have a meeting at that time, but, I have been running around this past week and I did not have the right mentality to work with him today. I told him goodbye and that I will see him tomorrow. I closed my door and expected him to leave. I didn’t hear the gate to my compound close so I knew he was still here. My mom called me, so I again tell him he needs to leave and that I have things to do today. He says he will wait. While my mother is on the phone, I basically tell him to leave. I tell him that I have obligations and meetings, and whenever he wants to meet with me or for me to go somewhere he needs to give me prior notice. He again says no, I’m going to the office. I had decided I would ignore him and stay in my room because I did not want to waste the time that I had on the phone with my mom, arguing with him.
But, the phone with my mom disconnected. So, if he wanted to have an argument than so be it! I had had limited amount of sleep because some guy decided to call me from 5am-7am. I couldnt put my phone on silent because I needed to have the alarm on. I am already not a morning person when I DO have my 8 hours of sleep(those who know my mother know where I got this from) but give me any less than 8 and I am truly a grouch! Therefore, the last thing you want to do, is confront me at 8 in the morning. He goes off into a tangent about me working on my community needs assessment Mon, Wed, and Fri. Which is true, it is a schedule I thought of long ago. But somehow he thought, this meant I had to go to the office on these days. So, he insisted that I go today (today is Tuesday by the way so I dont get his point). He implied that I am not doing my job. I explain that I am working with another organization, that I have been doing my job, and that I am not limited to work with his organization nor am I supposed to report to his organization. He keeps interrupting me and that was IT! Forget about burning bridges, forget about trying to preserve the relationship. He pushed too many buttons today. Every time he interrupted me I paused, said “excuse me, I was talking.” and then proceeded to say whatever I was trying to say. He wanted to have this conversation, he refused to leave when I asked him to, so than you know what? He was going to listen to what I had to say. But, after about 5 minutes of the conversation, I tell him to hit the road! Why was I wasting my time arguing with him? At the end of the day, he wasn’t worth interrupting my sleep.
Now that I am removed from the situation, I am a bit upset. I dont want to burn bridges, but unfortunately I dont think that one is going to stand. I know Im supposed to build relationships and networks but every network/relationship may not be worth building. I am already removed from my comfort zone, on edge because I am trying to get used to a new diet, make friends, learn a language, think of sustainable projects, and integrate into my community. Things that would seem small in the states, can seem much bigger here because you’re whole world has changed. It is a wonderful experience and I am appreciating my time here. But, the last thing I need is a guy who drives me insane. I hope this doesnt bite me in the butt later and that I can still find other ways to work with people. I know that even though I wont be working with the agricultural dept there are other departments that I can work with such as women’s dept and youth dept. I hope I didn’t make a huge mistake; as I am an environmental volunteer and it would have been good if i could have worked with thier department. But I think I can still work around the situation. I can still find ways to be a successful volunteer. I hope..