If you think you may want to work toward being more patient, Kenya is the place for you!
An ample estimate of today’s activity time (mind you, just one activity) was 3 to 3 ½ hours. It took about 6 ½. I spent the night at a friend’s house in town. I had planned to go out for a nice breakfast this morning and then get a taxi to a hotel near the airport where I was to meet a driver, two helpers and a lorry (truck) for getting all the furniture that two friends and I purchased at the auction last week. Since today is Madaraka Day (the day Kenyans gained independent rule from the Brits) there was absolutely no traffic in town, making it the perfect day to get an errand like this done.
While still at the breakfast place I got a call from the driver, “We have a puncta! We will be an hour late. See you at 12.” Puncta is Swahili for flat tire. (I’m not kidding.) That’s fine I thought, at least he caught me before I left. Now I can have the cup of coffee I was wanting.
I left to get a taxi with 40 minutes to make a 20 minute journey. I was so glad to have a little extra time to drop a card to another friend on the way. I made it to the hotel 10 minutes early. But I called just before leaving to double check we were still on for noon. Yep.
Now in Kenya 10 minutes “late” is not at all late. If someone is 30 minutes behind, well that really isn’t late either. It’s really kind of on-time. But on-time can be stretched beyond that too. I figured that since I had two confirmations for noon from someone who works with wazungu I could give him until 10 past before I called. When I did call and ask where they were I got, “by Nyayo Stadium, we are on the way.” Okay I thought, that can’t be more than 10 minutes, probably less.
It took him another half hour to get to me. There was supposedly a traffic jam there by the Stadium. I knew that wasn’t so, but I didn’t argue, it gets you nowhere. Off we toddled to the hard-to-find warehouse of this auction, only a few minutes more down the road.
At the desk of Jennifer we handed over the bankers check for 104,100 KSH. I was informed that I was 400 shillings short. So I asked to go over the items one by one. Thankfully it was an item near the top. But she showed me the paper trail, it was not her mistake. Jennifer assured me she has been doing this a long time and she never makes mistakes.
Once she typed up the invoice and took the extra 400 shillings in cash, our paper went on the bottom of the stack. There are only three auction workers available to check people out. I would have to wait. “How long do you think,” I asked. “Maybe an hour,” was her reply.
I decided to go around and find all the items ahead so there would be no need to search for them when it came time to check us out. But it would have been too conspicuous to actually move everything into a pile. Finally we were the third ones from the top. That’s when all three workers went to lunch! Oh well, if they are all at lunch then at least when they all finish we will be up.
When I noticed they were all up with invoices in hand I looked down at Jennifer’s clipboard. The same invoice was on the top, and the second remained. There was ours third down still. What?! The three workers had stopped for a break in the middle of their three orders!
Believe it or not I really didn’t expect anything different. I only wanted to get back to Brackenhurst before dark. Once loaded it took just over an hour for the old lorry to climb up towards Limuru. We stopped first at my new place. Then another ministry house near the main gate of Bracken. And finally at Sorleys house.
The only thing that really got to me is that when we off-loaded my bookshelf it was damaged from rubbing on the washing machine next to it all the way. If I had known I would have wrapped my sweater around it.
But as my grandma used to say, “It’s only money.” In Kenya they say, Haraka, haraka, haina baraka. Which means something like; in hurrying there is no blessing.