I had a 9.00 o’clock meeting today, and I didn’t want to be late, so I left the house at 7.00. I figured the rain would aggravate traffic, and since I needed two matatus, it was better to start early.
By the time I got the message that the meeting was cancelled, I was at Wilson Airport and it was too late to turn back, so I sat in the jam an hour longer then decided to get a power sandwich since I’d skipped breakfast.
I’d skipped the gym as well, so I thought it would be cool to walk to Uchumi Hyper. The drizzle was slight, but I had some good music [Yay X-Fm] and a warm red jumper.
When I finally got to Uchumi, it was barely open and the sandwich people were running around trying to set up. There were lots of clients waiting, so I hovered near the artificial queue.
After maybe ten minutes, I stepped aside to receive a phone call, and when I was done, the queue was gone – yay! So I stood by the sandwich place waiting to be served. For fifteen minutes.
Well, maybe not fifteen, but it felt pretty long. I wanted to walk away once or twice, but I was badly craving that sandwich.
I don’t know why I wasn’t being served. The sandwich people were huddled in a corner, and they kept walking up to me then totally ignoring me. I suspect it was my posture – I had my shoulders slumped, I was lost in the music, my head was down, I was semi-daydreaming, and I was dealing with my own PMS. Plus, I didn’t look fussy enough to cause a scene.
Eventually, a lady came over and barked at me. She startled me so much that I asked for a thigh turkey sandwich. What I really wanted was a polo thingy – which is much smaller.
Usually, when I order my sandwich, they ask me what size, what bread, which sauce, and if I want toppings on it. But Angry Lady just stormed off and started assembling the thing, even as I pleaded with her not to put chilli.
I thought about making suggestions, but the look on her face was more than just scary. Clearly, her level of moodiness was higher than mine, so I silently watched her and prayed she’d wouldn’t get it wrong.
I thought about it as she fought the big white bread [I prefer it small and brown]. In any other place, the client would have stormed off after such treatment, or at least they’d have refused the sandwich. But I figured I’d already lost half an hour, I was really hungry, and I’d finally found my green yoghurt, so I was mostly happy. I waited patiently, paid for my sandwich and left.
Luckily, all she did was use wrong bread and cucumbers.
I read an editorial by Binyavanga Wainaina in Kwani 04. He describes a bus trip in South Africa. The bus driver was drunk, and Binyavanga’s response was to sit behind him, go to sleep, and hope nothing bad happened.
The South African ladies on the bus chose to force the driver off the seat and select a burly fellow passenger to drive the bus. The whole scenario merely irritated Binyavanga, and I share his sentiment.
A while later, he was back home in Kenya, and got off a bus because it was overloaded. He made quite a fuss, but fellow passengers accused him of being proud and thinking he was better than them. After all, they were glad to ride in the smelly bus, so who did he think he was? They were still grumbling as the bus drove off.
Binyavanga’s point was that Kenyans have learnt to accept the status quo, and we get irritated when someone tries to change it, even if that change is for our own good. We prefer to live, let live, and have fate take care of things. And the last elections – in many ways – made our attitude worse because many people felt their opinion – and their vote – didn’t matter.
In my case, I stood there, watching the Angry Lady and hoping she’d get my sandwich right, but I didn’t do anything to ensure it.
Sometimes I feel that way about my business. I want it to be bigger and better than it is, but I don’t actively do anything to make that happen. The ‘business’ side of business can get pretty boring if you’re not a born marketter, or an accountant.
One thing I am proactive about is writing. So I’ll make you a trade. You can handle the business side of your work, and I’ll handle the write-ups.
Need some copy written for your website? A flyer, a job post, some policies, or even a letter of appreciation? Swing it this way and I’ll take care of it. Then you can peacefully go about the business of looking good and getting rich. Deal?