Locking up every day and night has become a new habit. At Vandy the doors lock automatically behind you, and the threat of crime on the 12th floor of a dormitory is pretty low. Home here, however, I must lock the gate to our yard, the barred door, the actual door, and the bolt lock. I feel very safe in my city, but the locks certainly help to calm any of my worrying tendencies.
Tuesday morning I got myself into a bit of a pickle with locks. During a trip to the bathroom before the staff meeting, I realized the stall I had chosen was missing a door handle. When I got the door to close without the door handle, I was quite proud of myself. When it was time to leave, however, I realized the bigger problem. I had to climb up the toilet, over the stall wall, and onto the adjoining stall’s toilet. I am proud to say I did not fall into or step into the neighbor toilet at all, and was able to escape before anyone came in. This was in the staff bathroom at school, and the staff meeting was happening in the adjacent room. I suppose I could’ve hollered for help and they would’ve heard me, but apparently I haven’t given up on maintaining some level of dignity with my colleagues.
Every afternoon I must lock up the library and computer lab after school. I close all the windows, lock the individual rooms, set the alarm, and then lock the building doors. I have become pretty good at using the keys here, but opening one of the doors in the mornings still gives me trouble every once in a while. The first whole week I couldn't do it, and had to ask a passing teacher, or sometimes even a learner, to unlock it for me. While I am trying to maintain my dignity and composure, learning the ways of this place has definitely required a lot of humility, as I have to ask for assistance constantly and for answers to questions frequently.
For example, one day during school the secretary came to me and told me I had to go with a man from Oshakati Premiere to check the meter. I had no idea what she was talking about, and I explained that I needed to start a class. She said I should go right away anyways, so I got into a truck with a man named Charles, and he started driving me to my house. Apparently the electricity meter had to be checked, but the yard’s gate had to be unlocked to read it. I am unsure why I had to go (I was about to start a class) and not Mary (who was just reading in the library), and I don't know why it couldn't wait until the end of the day, but I just did what I was told. Sometimes it seems that as soon as I think I have everything figured out here and that I am really getting the swing of life in Namibia, something comes up that makes me reconsider my assessment.