When A Cow Dies

Sogo, asleep on my cool floor.

As the day progressed yesterday I grew more and more aggravated, and more and more silent.

It was one of those days I felt like I was handing money to everyone to get a few things accomplished, and in return, seeing very little accomplished after having done so.  I also felt like I had monopolized too much of a friends time to help me with some very unimportant things.

The temperatures reached 39 C  (In the shade well over 50 in the direct sun) here in Sikasso yesterday. Even my Malian friends are complaining. To say the least, I hid inside, out of the reaches of the blistering afternoon sun, to do office work. Canadian blood just can’t take that much sun without becoming sick to the stomach.

I had two AC units installed three years ago, that I rarely turn on. They do not help much.

My friend  Sogo (name changed) said I should have the AC’s checked. I admit, I would have appreciated some relief today as i worked in the office.

I will be upfront about AC guys. I hate AC guys here in Mali. They charge over the top rates, comparatively, and I never seem to get results, only more problems when they work.  I am always left feeling like I  have been forked a load of  bull shit, and need to thank them for it, in the end.

Let me speed ahead. The end result is  that the AC guy said my AC unites are simply too small. I should have purchased the bigger 1.5 horsepower models.   Ok, so I figured he would leave, with me relieved. But no, he would have made nothing right?  He said he would add a little gas to each. Which is fine, easy even.

However, before you know it, he had one AC unit apart, that worked perfectly fine. My best unit even. Wanted to change the fan motor (Which was running fine) for 20,000 cfa. He seemed rather indignant when i said to put it back in, that I am not changing until it stops turning because this unit is my best unit. He insisted it turns slower than the other unit. It does, it always did, but it works better than the other unit, so leave it.  So he put the fan motor back in, and you guessed it,  The fan no longer turned at all. He changed a resistor, then added two resistors.  And after an hour, he had my perfectly good AC unit, working again, after he broke it.

He smiled at me when he finished, announcing rather proudly, “See it works now.” Are you kidding me?  

In that process he over heated the compressor some how and, no joking, he was pouring jugs of cold water into the AC, onto the compressor, to cool the compressor down.  Really? Like Really?

I leaned on my cloths counter, watching, growing more and more silent, less and less impressed, more and more aggravated. If I opened my mouth it would not been pretty, I assure you. At one point I wanted to slap his Bob Marley, cool dude, swaggering apprentice for how he was working, and the way he was talking.  I wanted them to just leave me alone.

Oh yes, I have issues today.

This is where my friend Sogo comes in. I felt like I had monopolized far too much of his time with my foolish house stuff today. He has his own house to run, he does not need to be here helping me with mine also.

Sogo had been in the bush earlier this morning. Upon  his return, he spent the remainder of his day at my house, sleeping on my floor, shifting from one room to another as the work progressed, because the floor is cooler to rest on he says.  Sogo wanted to make sure the work gets accomplished at my house.

Sogo is also saying very little. That is strange. When he arrived I could tell he was exhausted, and seemed sad about something. He seemed almost in tears. In six years I had never seen this level of expression on Sogo’s Malian face. But he never really said why.

Between my bouts of  aggravated silence, and his sleepy slumbering,  I finally asked Sam how his day went. You never give the bad news first. The truth finally came out after an hour or two.

“Not Good, i had a huge loss today.”  he said, with a very strained expression on his face.

“What happened Sogo?” I ask, waiting.

“I had this cow I have been growing for some time now. I have had him for a long, long time. Been lodging him in the bush with a family who looks after the beast for me.  I have been saving that cow for a day when I needed a serious influx of cash money. Well, I needed that money at this time, so I sent for my Cow. I was going to sell him tomorrow. ” Sogo explained.

Ok, I said

“The cow arrived, and as soon as it passed the gate into my yard here in town, it dropped dead. It just fell dead, right there on the spot, Andy. Just like that!”

The rest of the story is that Sogo, at a time his family requires a serious influx of cash, has lost 200,000 CFA  cash ($370 CDN).  This is a serious financial blow to his family. I could tell by the expression on his face, this loss hurt, and it hurt badly.

Here I am, bitching about my AC’s, how they do little to help in this 39 C degree heat. Bitching about how much I had to pay to a technician to look them over. Bitching because they break my best AC for me, and then fixed it for me at my expense.  I can spare the sixty dollars,  Sogo can’t spare the loss of $370.

After the AC guy left, I thanked Sogo for his time and help, apologized once again, all the while Sogo is insisting that he is happy to be here.

I wanted to hand Sogo every penny I had left on me, which was not much, after today. But I can’t pretend to be the answer to all of his problems, though he certainly benefits from working with me the few days he does.

I have no idea what Sogo needed the cow money for. He never said, and I never asked.

However, I was so temperamentally blistered from the days never ending shenanigans, that I was not really thinking clearly to respond. Also, in my “silent” funk, I probably wouldn’t have said the right words, made the wisest choice, nor taken the best action.

Despite all his problems, you know what Sogo said to be before leaving?  He said he would be back in the morning with some caulking to seal a few places on my door that needed sealing.  Really?

“Sogo, don’t you dare come back here tomorrow. You’ve wasted enough time at my house this week. Stay home tomorrow, Ok?” , I said,

“Ok!”, he said

And he did stay home, immersed in the messiness of his great financial loss.

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