“You choose the locomotion that you want!” my boss bellowed as she waved me away and took an incoming call.
I choose the locomotion I want? Oh come on. You are talking to a guy who doesn’t even make up his mind whether he needs to take the opaque lift, steep stairs or moving staircase when he is shopping at Nakumatt Lifestyle. The other day I even wondered loudly to a shop attendant why she couldn’t carry me upstairs in her arms.
The boss was still on phone. Clipperty clapperty, laugh, clop… then she adds the word REALLY (which she pronounces ree-ally?) and she goes on with the clipperty clapperty, laugh, clop…
It all happened when we got a call from our Mombasa client that KRA had detained some goods at the port and were now asking for a tax that was greater than the value of the same goods. Now, I didn’t pay attention during all those Economics classes due to the distraction of having a teacher with decent looks and a sizeable, you know.
You don’t? Well, Diabs (for that was what we called our teacher who would surely merit a Facebook Group now) would always awaken me from my fantasies with ‘You there, behind!’
‘Behind?’ I would repeat in all innocence triggering a heavy bout of laughter from my co-students. But now you know. So she would ask about all these crazy three letter abbreviations. Like asking me what ERP stood for. Sijui it used to be Enterprise Resource Planning or sumn. There was also EPS for Earnings Per Share. As far as I knew it then I had a terrible affliction of EPA. Error Prone Abbreviations. Yet all I ever saw in that class was her VPL.
That was then. The now was still ‘clipperty clapperty, laugh, clop..’ as my boss went on with her phone call. Truly, you can tell a man by the company he
keeps works for. Michael Jackson may have been right when he sang about bosses. They Don’t Care About Us.
The rules of the Firm were clear. If an employee needed to travel to Mombasa, they would, if traveling at night take the bus and if they were travelling during the day, go by air. But when I told her that I wanted to go with a personal car, a day in advance, she was acting up. You would think by locomotion she meant even a bicycle or mkokoteni. Maybe the correct MJ song is Bad.
I don’t mind matatus. They aren’t really all Nissans but Kenyans are incorrigible. The last time I travelled in one called a ‘shuttle’ to Eldoret, I was taken aback when –Houston we have a problem - the old lady next to me launched herself into a prayer before the journey seeking to quote her ‘journey mercies’. I wouldn’t have minded being sat between two gorgeous girls called Mercy too! So I asked the good lady whether she always prayed before all journeys.
‘Mimi huwa naomba tu kwa-Nissan,’ she replied.
‘Mimi huwa naomba tu kanisani,’ I told her. But if travelling in this mode meant I was assailed by religious conversations, I quickly struck it out. I enjoy journeys where there is a great chance of engaging in the Lips Olympics.
I don’t mind air travel. No. In fact, the stewardesses are often all pretty. In an era of ageism and sexism lawsuits, I am waiting for an airline to be sued for uglism.
For some of us, the only chance we get to lift off the ground (with the added benefits of turbulence is when they get into a lift). Speaking of lifts, it is an open secret that I would rather be stuck in a lift with Penninah Karibe than with a lift engineer.
The last time I took to the skies on my way to Jo’burg, I was horrified by the pronunciation of the South African Airways crew. Having settled in, I asked the guy what he was going to serve. ‘We will serve you some snakes!’
My eyes went bulgy as I scanned around for Samuel Jackson but I still managed to put in two words of shock: ‘Some what?’
‘Snakes, sir!’ he said.
‘What kind of snakes?’ I posed whilst holding my bladder tight.
‘We have all sorts of snakes…’
Turns out, the mispronouncing crew was talking about snacks! Ree-ally!
When the phone finally came down (and I suppose this was only after my boss hit her word limit for the day) she indicated firmly that I had to go by air. The way she said it, you would have thought she said I had to vanish into thin air. And so my date with KRA was made. Short of becoming Saddam Hussein’s defence lawyer (as you recall, the militants shot his lawyers and not the prosecutors) dealing with KRA is often one of the most difficult assignments I have taken.
I may love Divorce Law but this was one of those times I said to myself, “Self, why not take this job as a challenge that gets you some quid and a stroll on the beach?” My self agreed!
At the Airport, I bump into Simon. Simon Wakson. A former classmate back in High. The last I heard of this guy he was selling his kidney to raise school fees. He seemed to have aged faster than normal!
Here he was at the airport with maybe one kidney, and walking in crutches. I knew the guy had a weakness for telling lies and I waited for a spin greater than he was about to marry Karibe. “I had my third knee operation,” he said pointing at the crutches. You see? Who has ever heard of a person with one kidney and three knees?
Turns out he was waiting for benefactors from Europe. If Simon had that modicum of business and common sense, he would have undergone plastic surgery to turn him to General Mathenge and get feted instead of that Ethiopian farmer. Mark you, it wouldn’t have been a lot of surgery.
“I wonder if you can lend me a little money? Say a hundred thao?” he asked.
You know Wakson is the kind of guy you may lend money then he repays you with an envelop dripping blood and when you open it, it’s a kidney!
This selling my kidney business came about because Simon in his wisdom or lack of it thought he was a pauper. However when we were in First Form, our teacher of English (who hated to be called our ‘English teacher’ and once asked us to give him twelve meanings of the sentence: The police were ordered to stop drinking at midnight) asked us to write an essay on ‘My Life As A Pauper’. Predictably, Simon wrote an amusing essay about how he had been planted and we were puzzled until we saw his essay was titled ‘My Life As A Pawpaw’. Maybe he should have spared his kidney and sold his faulty ears!
Cometh the hour, cometh the woman! So I was saved from Simon selling me kidney stones for a hundred grand when the soothing voice came over the loudspeaker that we were ready to board. And I dashed off like a surgeon.
On our descent, the cabin crew got us off to an alarm with the announcement: Karibu kwa uwanja wa ndege wa Entebbe. I get thinking: ‘WTF? Did Yoweri Museveni kidnap us? Did he say we were in land belonging to Kenya and air belonging to Uganda? Then a correction follows a few seconds after. Samahani. Karibu kwenye Uwanja wa Kimataifa wa Moi, Nairobi. Samahani. Karibu kwenye Moi Airport Mombasa.
In those three seconds we were in Entebbe, Nairobi and finally Mombasa. “I am speechless!” I heard the chap seated next to me say. Yeah, right. If he was ‘speechless’, then how come I was able to hear him as he said he was speechless?
You know since the alerts on terror got us into all this panic, you are not allowed to carry most hand luggage like lotion and powdered milk but it would really help if KQ allowed its crew to carry some maps!
Anyway to give Caesar – or Naikuni - his dues the flight had been a great one.
The Coasterians were friendly as usual. The cab guy said ‘Karibu’ though frankly, I was absent minded and begged his pardon with a ’Scuse me, Karibe?’ The hotel porter said it too. Karibu, that is. I found an envelop on my bed that was addressed to me! It also said in about twenty lines: Karibu.
I also saw the lines: It is safe to leave your door unlocked. I looked around the cute room. What was there to steal other than my heart? For starters, the plasma TV. NTV turned me on, or truthfully, I turned on NTV. And I saw, oh well... I saw her. Karibe that is. She was announcing some news about some tourists who were visiting the country and they showed a clip of some frail women with … Simon! Great snakes!
Here is hoping I have a KRA - and Simon - free time. I wouldn't worry about Simon... he probably sold his heart this time!