Friday, August 6, 2010

Hurry Up and Wait

I once had a boss who was fond of this saying. It came out mostly when we were in business trips, attending conferences or sales meetings. For example: hurry up and get changed for dinner, then once seated, wait to be served.

But Jim had never been to Kenya (or any other country for that matter.) Nairobi is full of hurry-up-and-wait situations. If one things of them on this sardonic humor, you would probably never be in good humor.

The other day I was making a trip to Nakumatt, the Kenyan equivalent of Super Target (except not that big.) I had a list of only 3 or so things to do on this outing.

1. Take my newly new vacuum cleaner in for repair.
2. Return empty glass soda bottles and a couple of lamp shades that didn’t fit, bought the day before.
3. Pick up a few items like more diet Coke

I couldn’t find my receipt for the vacuum but I knew from past experience they can look up my purchases because I have a frequent shopper card.

It took well over 45 minutes to find the receipt in their system. I won’t bore you with the details of why. I’m sure I don’t understand the half of them. Turning in the soda bottles only took a few minutes. The lamp shades a bit longer and for credit only.

Now on to shopping. Suddenly I needed to spend at least as much as I returned for credit, including the bottles. But the only things on my list were a lemon (to make guacamole with the ripening avocados) and more diet Coke.

I managed to find a few more staples to stock up on, but the store was completely out of diet Coke! By the way, that is basically the only diet drink here. Once in a while you can find diet Sprite too. But not all that often.

The whole excursion took over two hours. If I only could have shopped while they tried to sort out the vacuum repair but personal presence is important for others getting things done. In the end the service guy told me that he’d call me in a week to let me know what was happening with the machine.

Hurry up and wait. It’s pretty much a way of life here. If you plan to visit, you've been warned.

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