Starting the day out normally for a seasoned Land Rover driver, I made up my mind to walk to the stage and get a taxi after my car failed to start. I had an urgent series of meetings to attend, and was not going to risk being late.
Confounding the askari at my gate, I threw my laptop bag over my shoulder and stalked out while making a phone call in Bruno’s direction. The plan was simple – take a taxi headed in the direction he was going to depart from, and meet somewhere midway.
Rather than call him up though, I called up his real boss a.k.a. my wife. She often undergoes tribulations with the chap but not on the scale that I suffer, which makes me believe that she has better communication skills when it comes to deploying Bruno.
“Please ask him to pick me up at Total Nakawa,” were my exact words, followed by: “The Total at the Nakawa lights.”
She voiced a clear understanding of the situation and didn’t even offer an endearment as she dialled off to dispatch the fellow.
I made it all the way to the taxi stage, into the taxi and through the process of arguing with the conductor a little bit so he wouldn’t cheat me out of Ushs200, until I was standing on the forecourt of the Total Station in Nakawa.
At that point, I realised that I should have seen Bruno’s car by then. There were not many vehicles there and a limited number of options open to a driver for parking a motor vehicle in a manner designed to aid the collection of a waiting principal.
I looked round again and confirmed that he was not there.
I then recalled a similar incident earlier on and a sense of dread began to weigh down on my forehead.
Supposing he was at the Shell in Nakawa? That small one up there, just after the traffic lights? Or the one further on? I knew it was in Naguru along Stretcher Road, and not Nakawa, but this was Bruno…?
I realised that I was going to be late for my meeting, and whipped out the phone to call up with apologies, wondering whether to mention Bruno’s very existence in my life as a cause, when I noticed that he had tried to call me about five minutes earlier under the sound of taxi chatter.
The next few minutes were going to be painful or full of mirth, I figured, so I sent meeting apologies just in case I didn’t get hold of the chap, then called Bruno up.
“Where are you?”
“Sir, I am here.”
I no longer laugh at this. Also, I gave up trying to make it stop. I just allow it to happen, so the time it takes to get past it is built into my expectations of these interactions with Bruno. So I leave him “there” and probe further.
“Are you at Total Nakawa?”
“Sir, I am at the new buildings.”
I stopped a little bit and allowed the brain to churn. I had noticed some construction work going on near the garage bays at the top of the fuel station, but that couldn’t possibly be called “new buildings”. The works actually depicted mounds of soil extracted from the bay itself, rather than any new construction.
As I squinted to establish whether or not Bruno’s car was underneath one of those mounds of soil, I realised that in front of me, above Total Nakawa, was the UAP Business Park.
Without leaning on the investigative power of the likes of Sherlock Holmes or Grace Akullo, I solved the case.
Two weeks ago, I had had Bruno pick me up from those very same “new buildings” that make up the UAP Business Park. He must, therefore, have gone there on hearing the ‘Nakawa’ part of “Total Nakawa”.
“Bruno?” I said, in even tones delivered not to make him skittish and go off to, say, Mukono, “are you at those Nakawa buildings?”
“The new buildings, sir!”
“Bruno, where did Madame tell you to find me?”
“Aren’t you supposed to find me at Total Nakawa?”
“Come to Total Nakawa.”
Five minutes later, he drove into the fuel station – not from the Old Port Bell Road as you would expect if you are in any way familiar with this part of town, but from the main Jinja Road.
And on driving in, he stopped his car right there at the entrance and turned to face the UAP Business Park as if he either expected to see me emerge from that direction, or would be driving there shortly himself (see that black car in the photograph up there? Exactly like that!)
I walked over to his car and made myself available to him as a calm passenger before asking him WTH.
“Did Madame tell you to find me at Total Nakawa?”
“Then why did you go to those UAP New Buildings?”
“Sir, I had gone to look for parking…”