You need to know me to understand why this can be an issue in my life.
I am rarely to be found on my Facebook page, even though I have more than 1,400 friends overall. I pop into Facebook for not more than ten minutes at a time, about three or four times a week. Not because I don’t like it – that would be hypocritical and would reek of a certain type of arrogance one can only exhibit when one is being chauffer-driven in one’s Rolls Royce en route from the daily breakfast at the Serena to a magnificently furnished personal office in Kololo to oversee a few million dollars’ worth of business arrangements that one owns personally. But of course, if one had that million dollars’ worth of business then perhaps one would hire the Serena chef to make the same breakfast in one’s palatial kitchen…
…I digress easily into such nonsensical thoughts because someone yesterday emailed me photos of the new Rolls Royce Ghost.
Appropriately named because the only way it can be in my garage is if it is a ghost. Dammit.
Anyway, so my apparent nonchalance towards Facebook is not to be misconstrued as arrogance. I just feel uneasy appearing to have so much time on my hands that I can be there banging kaboozi with the general public.
But here I was, on the last legs of my two-day prescription bed-rest, and something made me log on to Facebook for a bit. I do this in my study, which is situated just off the beginning of the corridor leading to the master chamber (sounds like a mansion, eh? Glance at the ghost above and then return to reality.)
I was saying, situated where it is along the corridor, the study room allows for the desk to be positioned only one way unless one removes the door altogether. The position forces one to place one’s computer screen at an angle that allows anyone entering into the corridor to glance at what one is doing.
And so it happened this evening that, just after I had logged onto Facebook, one of the maids (okay, let’s not do this. We really call them housegirls, so I will stay normal and stick to the usual for the rest of this) walked into the corridor.
Now, I like housegirls a lot less than I do Facebook. There are some similarities between the two: 1. You can’t do without Facebook the same way you can’t do without housegirls. Think how hard it is to mop the floor of your house all by yourself. Or how complicated it is to announce to the world that you’ve got a newborn baby and ensure everybody gets to know without clamouring for a party? 2. Facebook fills in certain gaps in one’s day the same way the housegirl does if your wife is a certain way (mine isn’t, so I never enjoy personal free time while she is off holding those gossipy chats with the housegirl in the kitchen). 3. Anything you put on Facebook or tell your housegirl will be known by the world in superspeed time.
There are more similarities if one thinks about it just a little bit.
So anyway, one of the housegirls walked into the corridor. And you know how housegirls walk: shufffffle…slap, shuuuffffle…slap. Even if you’ve got a carpet on the floor end to end, they will achieve the shuffle of their slippers and conclude each shuffle step with a slap of hard rubber. The only good that comes from this is if she is a smelly creature such as one of the recently departed a couple of months ago, you can tell when to start holding in your breath.
So back to this evening, I only heard the shuffling when she was upon me. Not standing right behind me in the study, because that would have been a death request that I would have immediately granted.
But for about four seconds, as she walked past the study room door, I KNOW that she looked into the room. And for damn sure, she saw my laptop screen.
Now, normally I would be unbothered about such a thing. So what if the housegirl sees anything on my computer for four seconds, right? It’s not like she is about to hack into the damn thing while I am at work…or even if I left it at home with the charger plugged in, I am dead certain she will be more interested in cracking open the DSTV for some ki-Nigeria.
But here is another problem I have with Facebook: EVERYBODY IS ON IT!
My nieces and nephews, my father was on it for a short while, my aunts and uncles are forever sending me requests, my workmates and employees…everyone!
It’s ridiculous! And I can’t understand why, for example, one of my employees feels comfortable enough to be my pal on Facebook, then take a day off pleading serious illness on the morning after she kept all and sundry updated about the number of tequilas that “went down all over town” till three in the morning. Okay, I guess twelve tequilas will make you sick, so she wasn’t necessarily lying about failing to come to work but…
Then there was the one who helped introduce a No Facebook During Working Hours policy because she religiously kept the world updated about her status yet never seemed to make it for client meetings because she was “busy”. The most worrying part of this episode was her supervisor saying, “She is ALWAYS on Facebook! She updates us almost every thirty minutes…”
“So you check Facebook every thirty minutes…?”
By the way, where are the people who post things like http://failbook.failblog.org/ and http://www.lamebook.com/?
I digress, yet again. I believe this is a habit one picks up after driving around Kampala city for a while and getting accustomed to meandering round pot-holes (aren’t they supposed to be called port-holes? Eh? I check Wikipedia? That’s lugezi-gezi).
BACK TO THE POINT: My housegirl might be on Facebook!
Have you ever considered this? My last two housegirls were certainly not candidates for Facebook, but these ones I have right now…one of them did her interview over the phone because she was in Mbale, and asked for her transport money to be sent to her via MTN Mobile Money. The second one exhibits mannerisms that one normally sees in campus girls, and speaks only English. She is also a bit disdainful, as if this stint of being a housegirl is only a stepping stone to her true vocation of being, perhaps, the next Ugandan entrant into the Big Brother house.
They both SMS a lot using their personal mobile phones, and none of them is on Warid – which I found worrying. All other staff of their cadre maintain Warid lines with more seriousness than they do their school certificates. Their dedication to pakalast goes deeper than religion in some cases, probably because their Christmas comes every time a new 24-hour period begins.
It’s so bad that my cleaner at the office is campaigning for some position in his village in Soroti over the mobile phone. He calls somebody up in the morning and then sustains conversations for the rest of the day without hanging up the phone even once. The fellow on the other end of the phone, presumably his campaign manager, simply walks from door to door, provides salutations, then hands over the phone for my chap this end to do politics.
On this end of the line, I have observed, my chap will talk ceaselessly until you need him to do something, at which time he says (in Atesot), “Hold on.”, places the phone under his armpit or on a neat surface somewhere, then finishes the allocated task before returning to his conversation with (in Atesot), “Allo, I was saying…”
My housegirls are not like this. They are both on MTN – and they came with their damn phones and phone lines, so they aren’t begging. And now, with all this MTN 3G+ hullabaloo, I’m wondering if these women are not on Facebook already.
Which means that there is a chance…a miniscule chance, but a chance nevertheless, that in those four or so seconds during which the wretched housegirl glimpsed evidence that I am on Facebook, the idea could have occurred to her to…
…God forbid: Invite me to be her Facebook friend.