Pure Madness

My thoughts on the "behind the scenes" of life. You will find inspiration here. Share it generously


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The Customer USED To Be Right…

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The service industry in Kenya is very wanting. Whatever happened to “The customer is always right”? Why do businesses think they are doing the customer a favor by providing certain services? How many times have you endured bad service and still ended up paying for it?

Public transport is the worst when it comes to customer service. I actually think there is a lot of potential in the Railway Industry that the government should consider investing in. Trains are much faster cheaper and have a bigger passenger capacity than matatus. Matatus have completely lost value for customers. Getting a matatu these days is like being kidnapped. You will be dropped where they want and since you don’t know how much they will charge at any given point, it’s no longer fare, its ransom!  

I used to like Double M buses because they were comfortable, quiet and the staff were very professional. Not anymore. One day, I boarded a Double M bus at night only to discover it did not have head lights. I was seated in front. I prayed all the way to Buruburu. That was my parting shot. Once in a while I will use them but only during the day. On most occasions, my preference is KBS buses.

So the other day I decided to board the “Famous, Funky, Fifty-eight matatus” (Buruburu). Let’s just say I am much wiser and more grateful to be alive. First, we used an unfamiliar route, then we did speeds that made it very difficult to blink or breathe and the music was so loud I could feel my intestines in my throat!

That’s not all. When we got to my stage, I told the conductor that I was alighting. He looked at me and then continued to count his money (oh, and I paid KES60 instead of the normal KES50). I thought the music was too loud and so I moved closer to him. He looked at me as if I was a tourist and then told me that the matatu was an express one. What that meant was that it would have to go all the way to its final destination first and then the rest of us would alight on its way back to town. Believe it!

It took me an extra 40 minutes for the matatu to bring me back to my stage! Say it with me, “The customer is (used to be) always right”. So let me break it down for you so that you see my frustration. I paid more, was driven recklessly, had to endure very loud music and had to go to a place I wasn’t going to get to where I was going. If that isn’t madness surely, what is?

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How many times have you as a customer paid for poor services. Some customers have paid for food that they did not order or wasn’t made to their specification. Others paid and did not get the service they paid for or got it too late, while others went into loses because they did their part but the service provider delayed delivery.

I can’t tell you how many times I thought to myself, “is this a favor, or my right”. Kenyans have a great culture of empathy.  We are very understanding. But that shouldn’t be a reason for service providers to “make mistakes” without amends. People get married once so if you mess them up that day… you have messed the only chance they had to married. I don’t have time to wait for the waiter to call the manager and discuss how I will get another meal since you messed up my order that took you half an hour to prepare.

Service providers need to provide services the same way they would want the service provided if they were the clients. Customers need to demand better services because they are paying for it. It’s time to change the service industry. It’s what you ordered how you ordered it and the time you ordered it or nothing at all!

Don’t accept bad service. They dint feel bad messing up your order pleased don’t feel bad rejecting it.


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Yes Your Honor… Corruption is cheaper.

When the Matatu we were in did not take a right turn to State House on Kenyatta Avenue but instead took a left turn to Milimani Law Courts, it finally dawned on me that the day ahead was going to be a long one.

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It was one of those Monday mornings that I wake up very focused. The alarm goes off and I instantly hit snooze, and not just once. That’s Focus. Everything else was working as I had planned except time. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait for long. An old Matatu showed up. I mean really old.

This must be a gift from heaven. I thought. It must be, Even though I moved seats three times trying to find one that wasn’t broken or shaky, I was convinced that the matatu was heaven sent. Before I could  settle down at the back, the conductor was on my face demanding his dues. I did not want him to ruin my otherwise blessed morning so I refrained from engaging him in any chitchat.

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Suddenly, someone shouted “Funga mshipi”! But before anyone could move there was a policeman at the door laughing. He mumbled a few things and then took a seat. I went on with my attempt to snooze before we got to town not making much of the events.

To my surprise, the Matatu turned into Industrial Area Police station and the cop ordered us out and into two rooms; the ladies went into one while we were bundled into the other. The door behind us was immediately locked. The Matatu left. Never mind that they did not give us back our money neither were they arrested for not having seat belts fitted or even the poor condition it was in. They just drove out of the police station as though they had been sent to do exactly that; take us to the police station and charge us for the ride.

Everyone then suddenly started making calls, shouting through the window, complaining about everything and anything, but not me. I was going to have a good day. An hour passed and I thought it wise to send a text to my colleagues saying I would be a “little late”. A few guys managed to make “the right calls” and they were allowed to leave. The rest of the mwananchi who did not have someone to call remained.

Almost two hours later, we were bundled out of our rooms into another Matatu. This time I buckled up just in case it was a test. The policemen didn’t. The irony! That’s when one cop shouted we were going to Milimani Courts. (Not State House as I had anticipated). This was the first time we were given clear instructions of what was going on. It was time to send another text. “ I might not be coming to the office today”.

At this point, as you would guess, I had already forgotten about the good day business. We were moved from one cell to another for no reason. The toilets were filthy and the rooms were not ventilated, there were no emergency exits, grills existed everywhere – you felt like a criminal just being there! It took almost three hours for the Magistrate to come and another two hours to make her “judgments” after which we were shuffled to another room to pay our fines via Mpesa.

By the time we got the receipts it was almost four o’clock! A whole day was wasted and for what? A KES500 fine? Why wasn’t I charged on the spot? I had a bag on my back the whole day and no one asked me what I was carrying. I went into a Police station and a court full of people! Don’t these places need security checks? Then as I was leaving the court, I had to go sign in my laptop and then sign it out. How absurd. No one took the time to find out if I had stolen it.

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After going through the process I can’t tell you how many people swore that the next time they are arrested for a misdemeanor, they would rather bribe their way out than go to court.  Isn’t the Judiciary shooting itself on the foot if after going through “the correction procedure” citizens don’t swear not to commit an offence again but instead swear to bribe their way out of one next time?

What would you do? It’s not as easy as it sounds.  Belt up…If you can find it…


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WaKenya Tufaulu (Kenyans Lets Prosper)

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I am blessed to work in an environment that allows me to travel across the country every so often. But this blessing has slowly turned into a burden. Every time I visit the remote parts of this country, I am reminded of the things that I so often take for granted.

If you live in the capital city, it is possible that just like me, one of your greatest concerns is how to beat traffic every morning and evening. So we have developed predictable times that we have to live our houses in the morning and our offices in the evening and if the is altered in the slightest way we know the consequences; our day is “spoilt”.

In the city, some of us are happy with our careers, our relationships and our status in the community. Most of us are still trying to get there and this then becomes a reason not to sleep well at night. We stay up in our comfortable beds thinking and planning our next move. How we will make that sale and make that commission, how we will “turn the other way” and make some money or how we will change jobs to get better perks.

Slowly but surely, we get caught up in looking out for number one; ourselves. We fight to get to the top at whatever cost and we keep fighting to stay there. We are in a race against ourselves and against imaginary competitors. For some, it a personality trait; that’s just who they are;competitors. For others, it’s all we know to do to survive. So far it has been very rewarding for some but for most of us, it has left us broke, bruised and broken.

 

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The problem with this kind of life is that we never know when to stop and celebrate our achievements. We are always going after the next big thing, the next big contract and the next big job only to find out that there is another bigger thing, another bigger contract and another bigger job. We keep going, not seeing that with every win, we are losing something else.

For some, its our health, while for others its our families, our friendships and other things that we once considered valuable. Soon, we find ourselves successful but alone, leaders with no followers, shepherds with no flock and fathers without homes. For most of us, its impossible to go back to living the simple satisfying lives we once did. We have created an image, a brand, a façade that we are not willing trade for anything else.

I believe in success, but not at the expense of family. I believe in success, but not at the expense of my own health. What is wealth if it makes you a stranger to your own children and spouse? What is wealth if in its pursuit, you burn out, your body shuts down and money cannot fix that? Success too, has its rules and parameters.

Every time I visit the remote places of our beautiful country, my mind and everything that I have learnt “in the city” achieved over the years is “reset”. I meet people who are genuinely happy yet they dont have much. Families that are more content regardless of the different difficult situations they are in. They are always willing to share the little they have with anyone else even strangers.

They live simple lives; no extravagance. Everyone seems to know what they need to do. When the sons get home from school, they first take the cows to drink water at a nearby river before going home to milk them. The daughters will fetch water and help their mums cook and clean. The fathers will make sure there is food on the table. Nobody needs to be told what they need to do; everyone knows their role and they are happy to do it.

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Sadly, there is another side to this story; I have been to places where young girls carry the scars of rape and in most cases by close relatives. I have seen graves of young men who have either died from getting involved with gangs drugs or harmful cultural practices. Homes have been burnt down due to community conflicts. Women and children have been left to fend and protect themselves as men look for greener pastures for their animals.

I have seen young children carrying more water containers to school than they do books. I have seen desperation make parent force their children to leave school to go and prostitute themselves to foreigners in clubs and at the beach. I have seen a family of 13 children live in a mud house the size of your six by six bed.

I have seen a man wail as he narrates how his goats, the only life he knows starved to death. I have seen a boy’s face literally light up by giving him a bottle of drinking water. I have seen fathers, old fathers beg for half a bottle of drinking water. And to think how many times we flush our toilets with clean water. How many times we leave our taps dripping for days, how we watch rain water flow into sewers. For us, on a bad day we have water rationing for a few hours .For these communities, they go for months even years without seeing clean water.

There is nothing as sobering as seeing how other people make a living  with so little. When you see these communities, you want more hospitals with better equipment and personnel. More schools with more teachers and more police stations with better equipped police officers. You want public servants that actually sit at their workstations and serve. You want justice to be upheld. You want children to grow up in a better environment and parents to see fruit of their labour. You want to see change and you want it now!

In light of the issues these communities deal with everyday, your problems become a luxury. Nothing is ever the same again.

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Your own expectations and those of your leaders change. Every now and then, all you want is a better country. It frustrates you when you see leaders failing their citizens and citizens failing to hold themselves or their leaders accountable.

That is all you want. A little change.

 


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Operation Okoa Kenya

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My mom was the most unpredictable person that ever existed. You could never read her mood. Case in point; my mom had what she called the curtain principle. As long as the curtains were not drawn I had permission to stay out playing. The minute my sisters drew the curtains, that was the end of the day regardless of what time it was. I was to stop whatever I was doing and get into the house.

Nothing was more torturous than the look on my sister’s face when I got into the house after the curtains had been drawn. You could tell they were laughing with a straight face lest my mum turns the tables on them too. And so my long journey across the sitting room began. The puzzle of all puzzles.

I couldn’t sit down with my now dirty clothes for obvious reasons, if I apologized, I would be admitting guilt and walking across the room without saying anything was rude and I was just adding insult to injury. Often, I almost made it across the room before my mum suddenly started asking questions that always ended up being accompanied by blows and kicks before she went back to her conversation on the phone. Who beats their children while the person on the phone is listening? Simply unpredictable!

Watching the World Cup this year feels like I am dealing with my mum all over again. Nothing is predictable anymore. Seriously, how did England, Italy and Spain get knocked out in the first round? These teams have always been the giants of soccer even guys who don’t watch soccer know that!

Our African heroes too had their fair share of being unpredictable; Ghana, Algeria, Nigeria and Ivory Coast are out! We were so sure that Ghana would be in the finals this time. Senegal did not even make it to the World Cup. Kenya, in the spirit of being unpredictable was however well represented by Harambee stars in the World Cup and “our” Origi (short for Original) got to the quarter finals!

Talking of unpredictable, did you see what the Germans did to Brazil (Germaneni?) Kwanza that octopus lied to us! It predicted that Brazil would win. I thought Netherlands would carry the day after a boring 120 minutes of play. They have been in the World Cup 11 times but have never won the Cup. Well some things are hard to change..

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While the World Cup (and my mother) thrive in being unpredictable, our country Kenya on the other hand is still thriving in being predictable. Same old leaders holding same old rallies, making same old speeches and promises, indulging in same old blame game. Isn’t it predictable that our leaders whom we elected to represent us in Parliament, Senate and County Assembly are everywhere else but in the place where they can make real change?

Why can’t our leaders amend whatever they feel is not right from Parliament? Do these guys watch the news and see how mwananchi is suffering across the country (and I mean even from the presidents tribe for those of you who engage in shallow talk). I found it really funny that some of our leaders want us to boycott using certain products. What about the people who make a living from working in these companies will you give them work? The brand that every leader should represent is one of helping his/her people. Even if it’s for publicity sake.

They got one thing right though. It’s time for Operation Okoa Kenya. Actually let’s start with Operation Okoa Lamu. Why haven’t we seen our leaders visit Lamu and Tana to show “their solidarity”? Why haven’t they mobilized resources available to them to donate to the affected Kenyans down there? Why don’t they setup a helpline for the victims so that they can rebuild their lives? No, we would rather talk about not getting media coverage. If you did some of these things you would never have to worry about media coverage!

Lets Okoa Kenya, let our leaders get out of those comfortable sits in Parliament, Senate and County Assemblies and let them meet us Kenyans in estates, schools, hospitals and workplaces. No Mheshimiwa, my needs cannot be “googled” on your new iPad. But you can play Angry birds or Candy crush. My needs are not in your trips around the world. If you took a trip to my doorstep I would tell you all you need to know about my needs. Earn your sitting allowance by standing up for your people.

Let us Okoa Kenya from the lie that Tribalism and corruption are in Government. They are not. A government is run by people. Those people are none other than you and I. Am I not the one giving bribes to get services that ought to be my right and not a privilege?

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Lets Okoa Kenya by guarding our own land. Surely, do you think that the police will catch up with the guy you saw planning an attack on fellow Kenyans and did nothing about it? Okoa Kenya or maybe even jiokoe! Pass the information to the security officers and if they don’t do anything about it go to another station and another and another. Tweet it use the hash tag #KOT you will be surprised that’s better than doing nothing.

We can Okoa Kenya by bringing peace to our hate filled social media walls and timelines. Unfriend, Unfollow, Unsubscribe, block and spam cowards that area threat to Operation Okoa Kenya. What do you have to lose anyway? You will never even get to see these people but their updates agitate you. Unfollow!

Okoa Kenya by not voting for selfish misguided leaders who think they are the saviors of this world but would sacrifice you at their ego altars. Okoa Kenya, get annoyed! Get mad when you see something going wrong. Don’t get used to injustices. Don’t become complacent about everything that is happening in the country. It’s not normal, it’s not “just the way it is” Don’t accept status quo. Okoa Kenya’s next generation by putting to an end today’s misdeeds today!

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For your God yourself and your country, Okoa Kenya!