I've been trying to get my head around what was so special about Saturday's get together. Maybe it was because none of us had seen each other for a very long time and were surprised and overtaken by the emotion of knowing that we mattered to people along the way. It's made me think about a saying about Oxford: "I've been to Oxford, I saw the buildings, the bicycles and the class rooms, but where are the Dons and the students? Where is the University of Oxford". Something along those lines in any case. When I was a lecturer I used to use this quote to illustrate that organizations are, in the final analysis, composed of people. Without students and lecturers performing their roles to get the job of the university done, there is no university. So, without me and all the others who were there at the time, there would have been no University of Stellenbosch! So, we all played our part both in the university's existence and in each other's lives.
My biggest regret in my career (or should I say failed career) is that I didn't pay more attention to personal relationships. Naively, I thought that getting ahead was about being a good lecturer (delivering interesting and organised lectures), publishing articles and getting degrees. How wrong I was and by the time I realised this life lesson (making sure I attended Friday night braais with the right people), it was too late. But that is the past and I hope to be able to take that life lesson further into my new career as a writer and publisher and teacher of French.
It is tough, though, becoming a business person after so many years of seeing a salary appear in my account each month. One of the issues I struggled with at the beginning was even raising the question of money with my students or the people who were offering me consultancy jobs. In the case of my French students, I was hoping each of them would initiate a stop order and the money would magically appear in my account each month. What a dream! I'm now better at using the 'm-word' and put a printed account in front of the student at the last session of the month before the month the money is due. It still doesn't work in all cases.
Even before I met up again with Harmonie Hotties, I'd been thinking about my track-record as a business person. Both my previous failed attempts happened while I was at Harmonie. Somehow I became the official photographer for the res and at one of the 'Henne Dinees' (sp?) I took lots of photos - often inappropriately, when for example the Prim was kissing the Huis-moeder on the lips!!! Anyway, I displayed the photos in the common room (aka as the Koekery or Cookery) and numbered them. People then put money in an envelope with the number of photo's they wanted copies of. I then had the right number of each photo printed at . . . what was the name of the photography shop in the same street as the law dept? Eikestad ?? Erich?? Or it may have been Clicks. When I picked up the myriad of photos I was horrified! The numbers I had used to order copies were the ones on the wall in the Koekery and not the numbers on the negatives!! I therefore got ten copies of the back of someone's head, for example! Since I had to pay for the wrong copies, I made no profit out of the whole exercise.
My other business attempt was while raising funds for the Debutante's Ball. I'd go home to the Strand and make sandwiches and sell them in res. But although I made a 'profit' I never deducted the cost of the bread, cheese, butter ham etc. It came from home after all. It was while returning to res one Sunday night, I had my first car accident. I had had one of my many fights with my parents and had taken a Contact pill as I had the flu. I got into my car and drove away, happy I was getting out of their house. I was coming over the bridge over the N2 on the R44, listening to Captain and Teneel (sp) singing 'Do it to me One more time' when I saw the robot (where Lord Charles is now) was green. I put my foot down but by the time I got to the robot it was orange and then red and then I saw the back window of another car centimetres away from my bonnet. My car hit the robot that bent over double and the front of my Mazda was crumpled up to the steering wheel. And there were whole wheat ham and cheese sandwiches spread all over the road!!
Apart from the shock of it all, I was fine except for bruising that appeared a few days later exactly where the seatbelt had held me back. After that, those robots became known as Susan's robots in our family.