Much of my job feels like a game. It’s a problem solving game similar to chess where you try to think several moves ahead for different pieces. The difference in this game is that there are a lot of squares that are actually bogs or quicksand and extra pieces that appear out of thin air.

This morning our team was scheduled to conduct an interview at 10am.

Thursday, I met with the members of the team who are working with me to prep for the interview. I learned that one of the guys is about to leave for vacation/marriage and will be out for 5 weeks. So then I went about getting one of the other staff members assigned to our work. It took several discussions (and running after my counterpart when he would say “1 minute” and walk out) to get another staff member assigned. Then we tried to have the prep meeting, only to find that the newly assigned staff member had already left for the day. I did the prep with the other two. Then I arranged for another translator to attend the interview today because my translator had a prior commitment. I also made sure that another vehicle would be available for the group of us attending the interview.

This morning, I learned that the translator wasn’t available, but luckily, there was another one who could substitute in. I talked with the new staff member to try to get him up to speed for the meeting since he missed the prep Thursday. Then I learned that someone from management had taken the car that was arranged. So I went about trying to get another vehicle. Once that was secured, I tried to get everyone gathered and ready to go (always the phrase “herding cats” comes to mind). Some of us loaded up into my vehicle and left for the interview. We actually arrived at the ministry early (bc traffic was lighter than usual). But we couldn’t find the staff from the other car. Then we learned that the guy we were there to interview was gone to another ministry and might be back soon. We waited. After 25 minutes, I called the guys in the other car. They were stuck in traffic, still far away. Then we learned that the guy we were going to interview would in fact not be back soon. I decided we would interview another person in the office. I started the interview, and after 15 minutes, the guys from the other car showed up. But there were enough chairs. Apparently, there are no extra chairs in this ministry. So after some back and forth, we ended up moving to another office with a conference table. After about 10 minutes, the guys from the other car stopped taking notes or paying attention to the interview (despite the fact that this is very important information and they will have to lead interviews later this week). It’s Ramadan (so they aren’t eating or drinking during the day) and their normally short attention span has reduced to practically non-existent. I continue the interview, trying to keep up with the circles that the process is taking and make sure the new translator understands what I’m trying to ask. And at the end of the interview, one of the guys says to everyone in dari that the whole hour was practically a waste of time.

So while I came away feeling I got some good information (despite all of the numerous setbacks), none of that matters if I haven’t built their capacity far enough for them to recognize good information when they see it.