When you work for an African NGO in a small town where all of your colleagues are your only social circle and thankfully there are a few who you actually want to be friends with.
I hear a tentative knock-knock on my bedroom door around 10pm. Sure we have been roommates now for close to a month but we keep to our privacy. To our semblance of a normal life. We try to keep our crazy laughter and endless discussions to the kitchen and the living room. This bedroom knock knock is a first.
I invite her in throwing a casual “I don’t bite” in French to encourage her tentative entry. She holds out a neatly pair of folded thongs. My own thongs. She tells me “I found these in my laundry”.
Peels of laughter ensue. N. continues. “Actually, I found them one time, but then I put them away and when the cleaning lady returned she put them in my laundry again. So I took this as a sign that she thinks they belong in this house. So I figured they must be yours.”
Me, in my head, thinking to myself that the only other roommates we have had here have been men, the CTO and a Development Manager, folks who come and stay for a week or so at a time. They certainly don’t wear pale blue with white speckles thongs. At least I hope they don’t.
P.S. I’m also secretly relieved that it’s my pretty panties she’s found not the faded, grey grannie bloomers that I also like to wear on an I’m-feeling-icky day. Phew.
Two silent minutes ensue.
Knock-knock I hear again on my door. I ask N. what the trouble is this time.
“I’m wondering if perhaps you have any of my panties?”
Considering she’s a specialist in data quality and audit it makes perfect sense that she found one anomaly in our laundry stacks and then prudently checked to see if the reverse might be true also. But I had to find my breath again after our laugh attack before arriving at that intelligent conclusion.
I make sure that my colleague does in fact have clean underwear for tomorrow (sometimes I find that I push my HR duties just a little too far), and I let her know that I haven’t yet found clothes or underclothes in my laundry that don’t belong to me.
I’m not fussed, as long as no one gets their knickers in a knot.