As I glanced up and saw the spider my immediate reaction was, “AH-HA! Get the DOOM!” This is a phrase I’ve heard frequently since I arrived here. The first day I spent on campus I remember seeing a can of DOOM sitting on someone’s desk. Right next to his coffee mug and keyboard. I thought it was unusual that it was so prominently displayed, but figured it must have been forgotten.
The next day, one of the staff members from the International Affairs Office took me shopping to get a few necessities for my house (linens, pillows, pots and pans). She wasn’t really supervising my purchases but she did insist, “Don’t forget, you must get DOOM.” “Really?,” I asked, “Do you think it’s necessary?” “Oh yes, you will want it.” I bought it thinking I would never use it. That evening I used it three times!
Last week I was in the midst of a faculty meeting. You may have read about it. We took part in a heated debate over the difference between the terms relevant and related. If you haven’t heard about it, feel free to check it out here. Everything is particularly formal here in Botswana. You address your colleagues as Dr. X or Mr. Y. If you are speaking to a Professor he is always addressed as Professor, never Dr. That is a major faux pas. And meetings start with an introduction along the lines of, “Esteemed colleagues, welcome. We are gathered here today to convene on the topic of quality assurance.” Given the formality of the situation I was shocked when mid-way through our meeting the Associate Dean exclaimed, “AH-HA! I knew it! Get the DOOM!” Simultaneously everyone jumped up, a junior faculty member sprinted toward a filing cabinet, emerged with the DOOM, and the Associate Dean blasted whatever it was into a chemical induced coma and eventual death. I completely missed the boat and to this day am not sure what type of offending creature was exterminated. I felt too foolish to ask.
Botswana has over 8,000 different species of insects and spiders. And at the rate I’m going I may get to see all of them before I leave! I think a large part of the reason for the constant exposure to these critters is the design of buildings. Most buildings here don’t have heat or air conditioning, so they are designed to have open doors and windows, and you seldom see screens.