I was reminded of my grandfather recently after a conversation with my departmental secretary. I needed some tape:
Kelly: Dumela Mma. O tsogile jang? (Good morning ma’am. How are you?)Tebo (my secretary): Re tang. (I’m fine).
Kelly: I need some tape to hang something. Can I borrow yours?
Tebo: Sure. (She reaches in her desk.) Here you go.
Kelly: (I look down at what she’s handed me and it doesn’t register at first what I’m holding.) What is this?
Kelly: Gum? No, I don’t need gum. I need tape.
Tebo: I don’t have any tape, use the gum.
Kelly: What? (Honestly, I was still completely confused as to how the gum would solve my tape problem.)
Tebo: Put the gum in your mouth, chew it, take it out, put it on the wall, and then hang your poster.
Kelly: Oh, ok, thank you. (I was in such shock I just left.)
I returned to my office and silently had a minor breakdown, “What is the world coming to? What kind of insanity is this? Encouraging people in an educational environment to willingly chew gum? And stick it to the wall?!?!” All I could think was that my grandfather and school principals around the world were rolling over in their graves in horror at the thought.
Rather than jump to any rash conclusions I spent the following days slyly surveying other faculty in my college. I would walk into someone’s office and nonchalantly ask, “That’s such a nice calendar. How did you hang it? Gum? Really? What a great idea. I should try that.” After a short while it seemed there was a general consensus that gum was an acceptable and approved adhesive. No matter how much I tried to wrap my brain around it, there was simply no way I could bring myself to do it. I still have that piece of gum sitting in my desk, in case of emergency I suppose, but I will not be using it as an adhesive or a breath freshener anytime within the next year. I should really just throw it away, but for now I will just leave it there as a reminder of the fact “there’s no place like home.”