So it’s Monday. And I am cranky with a capital RANKY. I don’t understand our universal distaste for Mondays but for me they represent an end to fun. A rude awakening into the drudgery that is my 9-5 week life. Where I earn money I can’t afford to spend and can’t drink in the middle of the day or stream my favourite Amazon car show in my pyjamas. I don’t like Mondays because of traffic jams, waking up early after up-to-noon snoozes on the weekend and no pizza offers. Mondays, quite simply, suck. May all of Nairobi’s farts waft in your general direction, Monday.
That said, there’s a lot of things in our fair city that should get recognition for their infallible ability to make anyone grouchy. I have often compared our beloved city to a fairy tale evil stepmother. And I am not wrong. Like any other city, she has her faults but like a Monday, she has those unique faults that can honestly make you wish for a meteor strike. Don’t believe me? I fart in your general direction too.
A few paydays ago, I was waltzing around town with a newly stocked Visa card dying to get swiped. After fulfilling its wishes at our favourite joint, Subway, we decided to go looking for somewhere else to swipe the hard earned money. Our wishes were answered when a sale sign loomed into view along Koinange Street. My wallet and I answered to the siren call of the discount with embarrassing eagerness. And they were selling shoes! It was like the universe was rewarding me for having feet. The huge 60% off sign was as welcome as a mirage of water to a man lost in a desert. I just had to go in. Because shoes. I picked out three pairs of shoes that were going for about Kes. 5000/- each and 60% off, that was the steal of the century. When I went to pay the total came to Kes. 15000. I was confused. Where did the discount go? Until the attendant pointed out to me fine print below the bold yellow 60% off banner. “60% off on fourth item of purchase.” I had to squint to read the miniscule letters. If they were on a road sign, NTSA would have arrested the sign maker. Why would you do that? Why not just make a banner that said, “Buy three items, and get 60% off on the fourth one.” It wouldn’t have killed them to be honest. That misleading poster was the one more likely to inspire homicide.
Nairobi doesn’t stop there. I believe a grand conspiracy is afoot. I don’t know why but I tend to like things that are different. Unique. That tell a story. When I was a kid I used to love two Cadbury’s chocolates called Old Jamaica and Grand Seville. And what did Nairobi do? She had the local Cadbury’s plant uprooted and so we started getting imported Cadbury’s chocolate. Guess what? They were more expensive and they didn’t make Grand Seville or Old Jamaica any more. But that was fine. In true pedestrian spirit, I soldiered on and found replacement chocolates. Baron’s Orange Liqueur Dark Chocolate. But local retailers stock it as frequently as the family’s visit to strange Auntie Mildred who owns thousands of chickens that are allowed in the living room. I’m telling you, it’s a conspiracy.
Frequently, you find yourself in situations where the city just makes you wish it could transform into a metropolis where drone deliveries were possible. Online shopping is still mythological in Nairobi because even if I buy it online, I would rather go pick it up because delivery will take 7 days. Supermarkets wouldn’t even dare to do shopping for you because delivery pricing would be an issue and they don’t want to risk not getting paid for all their hard work. Fast food restaurants are even worse. They do deliveries but it’s either for an exorbitant fee or “they don’t deliver outside a five kilometre radius.” It’s a crying shame that I can’t even get mustard for my hot dogs because a chef won’t consider it or management took it off their menu. What next? No teabag for my tea?
Where I live power blackouts are as common as sneezes during a dust storm. But the thing is, while my power goes out, other neighbours still have theirs. And no, it’s not because I haven’t cleared my power bill, it’s because “our line has a fault.” What is it? A geographical plate? I don’t want to hear about faults. I just don’t want blackouts that make it look like I am being bullied by electricity. The shame is, it’s been happening since 2014. And no matter how many times I have called the service provider, they fix it but it still happens again. Guaranteed. Like a shit. I don’t know whether there is a user on our line that is trying to run industrial equipment but please, make it stop.
We live in a country where, when things don’t go our way, we simply let them be. But I refuse to settle. I work around it. For my hot dogs, I carry mustard sachets. Limited condiments are just criminal. For my chocolates, I just switched to those Belgian brands that cost more than my mother’s Startimes monthly subscription but I eat a piece a week. For fast food deliveries, I lie about my location, then have the delivery guys’ just ride the extra feet to my location which earns them a hefty tip. Nairobi always tries to come up with a way to disappoint pedestrians as though she is testing your strength. Your will to live comfortably. Your right to afford some luxuries. But she hasn’t bested me yet. Except for the discount signs. I recently fell for a “Buy three books at 500/- and get one free.” When it actually meant, if you buy three books worth 500/- each, then you get the fourth one free. Not that three books were going at 500/-. Those fishy discount signs… Just make them stop.