office clowns go mobile


Today’s entertainer-by-employment-of-the-day turned out to be a quiet, non-assuming driver. His silence, I have began to suspect of late, might be linked to vast amounts of blank spaces within the confines of his mind.

Walking out of a morning meeting into a heavy drizzle this morning, I looked round my client’s office parking lot and failed to spot the vehicle anywhere nearby. The driver, for some reason still mysterious to me, is plagued by the type of bad luck that ensures there is NEVER  parking spot nearest to the entrance or exit of whatever place I may be going to.

He therefore invariably ends up parking in some part of the city that I would never guess is connected to whatever place he has dropped me at. The irritation this causes would be easily assuaged if he kept his mobile phone on, but due to the plague abovementioned, his battery is never charged or the network disappears around him.

Which is why after three minutes (which is enough time to search any parking lot in Kampala, as far as I can tell) I called his number, and was pleasantly surprised that he answered the phone.

Me (relief that the phone had rung, and hoping all would be well enough for me to make it to my next meeting on time): “Where are you?”

Driver: “Here.”

I paused a little. This was due to more than one reason: First, I was dumbfounded because his logic was technically unquestionable. I had asked the type of question that I detest being asked. He had provided a very accurate answer – so accurate that it required no empirical testing. Second, his response confused me because it bore the attitude of reversed paygrades – this was the type of response I could give him, not vice-versa. Third, I was under pressure to find the right words to use to get him to quickly fetch me out of the heavy drizzle.

“My friend,” I told him with deceitful calm, “I know you are there, where you are, but where exactly is that?”

“Here,” he persisted, “In the corner.”

I took a few deep breaths.

“Yes. You might even be pointing at the ground where you are standing, but which corner? Of which building? Where are ….”

Then I realised that I was the problem here – I didn’t need to know where he was, I needed him to pick me up and drive me to my next meeting. Perhaps that was his passive aggressive message to me?

I heard it loud and clear. Focus on the essential

“Never mind where you are. Remember where you dropped me when we arrived here?”

“Yes, sir!”

“Come and find me  here, please.”

Following his lead, I also used the ‘here’ concept but in the knowledge that mine held clear meaning. I walked back into the building, keeping an eye out for the car.

Eight minutes later, I was still glancing up every so often for signs of the car when I noticed a chap in a red shirt trying to catch someone’s attention. MY attention, it turned out.

It was the driver, so I walked over to him.

“Er…,” I began, seriously worried that the car had been stolen, “…what are you doing here?” I asked, in full control of myself.

He gave me a puzzled look that made me think he considered me to be some sort of idiot.

“You told me to find you here!”

The fault was entirely mine – I hadn’t specified: “Get into the car and start the engine. Engage gear to the required level then move the car to the spot where you left me in the morning. There, I will enter the car so that you drive to my next location and drop me there to attend a meeting. Breathe in and out as you do all this.”

I should learn to be specific. 

But Yes – I ended up getting to my next meeting late. And yes – I did explain to him that as he is the driver and is employed in that capacity, most of the assignments and tasks given to him will involve the vehicle. And, most of all, yes – I resolved to never assume the meaning of anything I tell him henceforth.

4 thoughts on “office clowns go mobile

  1. I too am often given to looking out the window to establish my surroundings when faced with that question. When asked, “James where are you?” my first thought is, “huh? what? aren’t I supposed to be here?”.
    On the other hand, my favourite question is, “are you sleeping?”. How do you answer that? Like when some one knocks at the toilet door, what if I say, “come in!”.
    While we are at it, have you considered the ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES one offers when they ask, “what kind of an idiot do you take me for?”. Sam has tried to teach me on many occasions about this thing called, “rhetorical questions”. Like when I ask her if she can pay for her lunch and she says, “do you think I make stones?” I should not say, “it really depends on what you ate and how regular you are”.
    By and large, the ability for a Ugandan to strike you speechlessly dumbstruck is infinite.
    Great post Simon.

    Like

What do YOU think? Leave a Reply in your own words

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s