So it really started on Saturday when I was contacted by Oliver for a house-sitting job. I had just finished house-sitting for some other people and it was my first opportunity to be at home in a while, so I was a little reluctant to take the job. The problem for Oliver was that he had double-booked himself for house-sitting. This job was for the family of his ex-girlfriend, and given that his only alternative to asking his current girl-friend to take the job for him, I agreed to do it, saving his relationship in the process.
The money helps too...
So ended up house-sitting in Kempton Park, which lies on the outskirts of civilization and Johannesburg. It has certainly shown me what I snob I really am, which has been a little scary, but apart from that and the bizarre cats (a story for another day...), it's been okay. But there was the creepy clown which was hanging opposite the bed I slept in...I eventually resorted to hanging a towel over it so that I could sleep at night.
My plan for the week was to camp out at this house and do nothing but work on my MSc as the last few months have not afforded me much time to do anything in that regard. It's also a very long way to have to drive on a daily basis to the university, and I am not exactly rolling in money at the moment. But, as you can imagine, fate decided to screw me over.
On Monday I had to go in to university to drop-off and finish some marking. My supervisor called me into his office to ask me to collect some people who were arriving from France, on the Wednesday. I accepted the task and promised to be there to fetch them. I was also really excited to get to be one of those people at the airport who stand there with a sign with the person's name on it, expectant of their arrival! I've always wanted to do that. Not really sure why I have, but it looked fun...
Then, on Monday evening, I received a phone-call from my supervisor's wife to tell me that his father had just died and that he had left me a few things to sort out the next day as he was leaving Johannesburg to be with his family. Naturally I accepted and expressed my condolences. The following morning, I headed in to university to carry out all the tasks required of me. I also managed to get quite a bit of my own admin out of the way, which was nice.
Wednesday rolled around and I got ready to head off to the airport. Unfortunately for me, the house I was looking after had one of those ancient aluminium garage doors which roll up. The unfortunate part was the lock which probably had been installed shortly after the discovery of fire, and in the tradition of all things ancient, it was incredibly difficult to get closed. So difficult was this device, that I banked on spending 15min of my morning trying to close the door each day. Unfortunately, on this day it took me about 35min to close...
So I arrived at the airport about 15min late. I was in a bit of a panic and searched the flight board for the flights coming in from Paris. There was only one. And it had landed on time. Cursing under my breath, I moved over the terminal exit where a permanent crowd of ever-changing faces had taken residence. I was scared that I had missed them already and that, fed-up with my incompetence, they had organised a taxi to take them to their bed-and-breakfast instead. So I stood there, terrified, but trying to look as if I did this all the time and had everything under control.
After about 45min a pair of women came out of the terminal and smiled at me, which I took to be a smile of recognition of the name on the sign I was holding. Luckily for me it was just that and not misinterpreted flirting, which would have been rather awkward. After exchanging greetings and once they had exchanged their euros for rands, we headed off to their abode for the next two days.
Once we arrived, I helped them carry their bags in and we discussed their plans for the next few days. It was decided that I should pick them up the following morning to take them into the university to collect a few things and sort out the vehicle that they would be using for their field-work (that's why they were here, by the way...).
The next morning, after a similar, but shorter, tussle with the garage lock, I went through to collect them. I miraculously was not late (!?) and once all the appropriate belongings had been gathered, we headed to the university. Once there, we had to scuttle from one office to another, collecting keys, materials and access cards, getting forms signed and paying for things. By lunch time, all was sorted, but all were exhausted. Very kindly, they took me out to lunch to thank me for all the help I'd given them which was fantastic. (For whoever this has any meaning for, the restaurant at the bottom of Seventh Avenue in Melville, behind the art gallery and opposite the other gallery makes an amazing grilled veg wrap!)
Immediately after this I had to take my sister off to buy dental-grade plaster of Paris for her sculptures. She does lots of body-casting work, so she uses up a ton of the stuff. It's kinda fun! She cast my hand once. It was amazing, the kind of detail you get!
Friday rolled around and I decided that the week had been such a disaster work-wise that I had to go in to university and catch up on all that lost work time. So I arrived at varsity to meet up with Helen. We were out of coffee so we had to walk into Braamfontein (area immediately around the university) to find a shop that sold ground coffee. At this point I discovered that I had been paid! It was very exciting! I was finally paid for all my lecturing! So to celebrate, we had slices of bar-one cake, amazing stuff, and had coffee. The rest of the day was a complete write-off, with most of our time being spent on failblog.org and YouTube.
Luckily for me, the week ended and I am finally back at home (sleeping in my own bed never felt to good!). Hopefully this week I can actually get something done...