Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More mindnumbingness

Since I am about halfway through my research project, the grant administrator at my university wants me to submit my receipts to her.  I have spent the last five hours compiling receipts, categorizing them, and taping them onto paper.  This is in spite of the fact that I've been keeping track of my research expenses in a spreadsheet all along.  Even better, most of these are manufactured receipts, because it is simply not possible to get a receipt for say a metro ticket or taxi ride in baladelba7th.  When I asked the grant administrator what I was supposed to do in these situations, she said that I should get a receipt book and have vendors sign it.  This is pure idiocy--no taxi driver or ticket seller in baladelba7th is going to sign a receipt book, even if I could find one here.  I explained to the grant administrator that there is a cultural difference at work--people will not sign receipts here because to them it signifies that they have accepted money (not necessarily for whatever service they provided) and this may be held against them at some point in the future (although it's not clear quite how). She stated again that I needed to have a signed receipt.  I pointed out that I had just explained why I could not get a signed receipt, and since a major goal of the funding organization was cross-cultural understanding, surely they had encountered things like this before? It's not as though I'm the first researcher to ever work in baladelba7th (although it is possible that I'm the first researcher from my school to work here on this particular grant).  So she finally wrote back that I should keep track of my expenses, write out the receipts without signatures, and it's possible that I would still be reimbursed.  So, I may have spent these five hours taping made-up receipts to paper for aught!

The lapcat however, is very happy, because he spent every second of the five hours in my lap, except when I kicked him out to make lunch and he followed me into the kitchen and discovered that I had neglected to properly cover the leftover popcorn, one of his favorite snacks.  He polished off a few kernels and then returned happily to my lap.

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