These past few weeks have been kind of weird and, well, maybe not the best overall (though I would by no means say I haven’t been enjoying my time here still!). There were the parasites in my thigh, and the mice that cuddled up with my legs in Janjanbureh. This week is no exception: on Tuesday, having finally decided on a topic for my culture paper (the final paper of the semester to write!), I joined Shelby and Holly at the Butcher Shop to grab lunch and utilize their wireless internet and electricity. Unfortunately, three computers on one table can cause some chaos, I guess, because as the waitress was setting down our water glasses, one of them tipped over and broke, and the water just so happened to inundate my computer. It wasn’t just that water got on it, but inside the computer as well. It wouldn’t charge anymore, nor would it turn on. I set it on a separate table to try and dry out, and the waitress, who was mortified, gave me the name of a place I could go to that could check and see if my computer was salvageable.
I think that how I handled the situation says a lot about how much more patient and maybe even understanding I might have become while in The Gambia. I knew that yelling at the waitress wouldn’t fix anything, because if I was in the waitress’ position, the last thing I would be able to handle would be a screaming, angry customer who would cause such a scene that she’d surely get fired. I’m guessing she needs her job more than I need my computer. She honestly looked more distraught about the situation than I did. Perhaps I am not truly Gambian, because we joke about how Gambians seem to yell all the time, but if anything I’m realizing that the things I would freak out about at home—a broken computer or charger or whatever—are things that, well, just don’t really matter that much in the end, especially when I realize that I’m lucky enough to know that when I get home, I’ll have a computer at home to use, and before the next semester at Juniata begins I’ll have a new laptop. Certainly not a lot of people here are able to say that.
After we left the restaurant, Holly and I decided to call a friend of ours who himself uses Apple products and thus probably has had to get some repaired in the past. We asked him if he could think of what we could do for my computer. He gave us about fifty different solutions, one of which was to go down to this one place, I-LINK, and ask for his friend Danny who could potentially help me out. We did just that, after grabbing some much-needed ice cream, and Danny said to leave my computer with him for a couple of days and he would try to see if he could do anything. I called back this afternoon and, sadly, he told me that it is damaged beyond repair.
Computers have been having some nasty luck here at Club Toubab. Dylan’s was stolen (along with his entire backpack, which included his iPhone and his journal as well) a few weeks ago, and Bridget’s is broken in that she can still use it, but if she tries to close it, the laptop will snap in two. Though, while it isn’t shocking that my computer went kaput here, I wasn’t expecting it to be because of a glass of water. I expected something more like a power surge.
And actually, it’s not just Club Toubab that seems to be having computer issues: one of my Gambian classmates at UTG texted me yesterday and told me that his computer screen broke and that he couldn’t study for his last final exam of the semester because of it, nor does he have the money right now to fix it.
It’s funny how we place such sentimental meaning on material items. I instantly began thinking things like, “Oh, this computer was bought with money made from my first job,” and “it saw the final draft of the essay I had published in RED,” and “it saw the writing of the novel I wrote in high school, and all of the papers I’ve written in college….” Is it silly to get sentimental about these things? Maybe I’m just crazy nerdy, thinking of all of these things, but I guess it just goes to show the value we place on things that, in the end, don’t matter so much. It’s only a computer. The files from my hard drive may be retrievable, and even if not, all of the important stuff was backed up months ago before I left for the Gambia. And the fact of the matter is that I know that I’ll get a new computer when I get home. I can’t say that my Gambian classmate is as lucky as I am in that regard, as he has to go who knows how long before he can have a working computer again. All I have to do is wait three weeks.
But you know what? This just means that I need to focus on making sure these last two and a half weeks are awesome and fun-filled. All I have is one more paper to write, and as you’ve probably guessed (since you’re reading this blog post that I obviously didn’t just handwrite and mail out), my housemates are kind enough to let me use their computers. Today, I used Holly’s computer and wrote four pages of my final paper. I think that’s enough homework for the next week now.