good Ugandans are orderly…can be more orderly and organised


SOME people consider the compulsion to keep things orderly to be a personal disorder and they use that connotation to intimidate people within our society who insist on having things done properly.

Wikipedia confirms this by saying of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), “In English, the phrase obsessive–compulsive is often used in an informal manner unrelated to OCD to describe someone who is excessively meticulous, perfectionistic, absorbed, or otherwise fixated.”

OCD from buzzfeed.jpg
Photo from buzzfeed.com

I don’t encourage the intimidation and often find reasons to highlight the value of ordering things a certain way. My children now being old enough to get sent to my wallet, for instance, approach it with repeated warnings that the privilege will be withdrawn if they don’t order the notes therein following the pre-set rules.

Whereas we are used to seeing that predilection for disorder in ordinary places, it is particularly disturbing when it shows up where people are educated and carrying out activities for which they are paid serious money.

For instance, when the person in a shop is handing me back my change (or balance) and places the notes in any order facing different directions and upside down and with some of them folded two ways, one folded three ways and the fourth with an ear bit bent back, I show little surprise.

The habit I have of then slowly making a show of unfolding and flattening the notes, then re-organising them so they are in order from the largest to the smallest note could be considered to be “Passive Aggressiveness” but I take it to be a brief practical demonstration or orderliness the shop attendant might benefit from.

There are other instances where I can’t do this because it is impractical and because I freeze up in horror – like when a financial institution or an educational one pays tens of millions of shillings for newspaper advertising to publish lists of names and numbers.

I share this pet peeve with, among others, Paul Bagyenda, an ICT Guru with a penchant for orderliness that he hides from the general public. There was a time when we’d act as a support group for each other on the days such publications interfered with an otherwise good tropical day in the sun, because he is as avid a reader as I am.

We once called up a Kampala bank that kept doing this – publishing pages upon pages of names arranged in no specific manner even though they had the option of alphabetically using Surnames (most logical), Forenames (harder but do-able), or numerically using Account Numbers (well…).

Our wrath once got directed to another financial institution for listing defaulters alphabetically by district, but then using some randomly illogical method underneath the district title – not even attempting to list them using an ascending or descending order based on the amount by which they had defaulted.

This week I found a lesson in patience when I experienced first-hand in person the time-wasting result of this lack of orderliness.

Back in November last year I made a decision to quit using the Gaz petrol station nearest to my home because the attendants refused to discourage people from driving in using the ‘Out’ side of the station – which always caused exit angst when one wanted to drive out having entered through the ‘In’ side in an orderly manner.

Gaz
The Gaz at Seeta – taken from http://www.nileenergy.co.ug

Worse, they had no problem using the first pump when a single car drove in, even though that blocked access to the second pump ahead – causing delays in the fueling process as one had to wait while two pumps with pump attendants in front of you stood idle.

By the time I quit I had signed up for their loyalty card service using a phone app and was accumulating points as I awaited the card itself. So for months now I’ve been getting notification messages that my card was ready for pick-up but was too pre-occupied and disinterested.

Until I had ten minutes to spare this week and had a Christian urge to forgive and forget.

I was asked to park my car and go into the office for a few minutes to sign for my card, which was fair enough so I complied knowing I would be telling a manager that day about how to improve their service.

The young man in the office had clearly had a long day and didn’t mind making this obvious to me but I kept my cool and watched as he commandeered a lackey to sift through a box of plastic cards wrapped up in bundles of 200 each.

At the start of this process I hoped to myself that these were thousands of people who had also quit the station on the same premises or principles as I had.

After many minutes of observing the process my optimism gave way to despair. They had identified my card number using the details I gave them and now needed to physically go through each stack of cards to find the individual one assigned to me.

A third person had been added to the list and, because the office was too small to hold many more people than the four of us and six other people doing similarly tiresome paper-laden tasks, nobody else could join the assignment.

To make matters worse, the fellows were ripping the rubber bands off the stacks, shuffling through the cards to identify my number, and then putting the rubber band back and placing the stack in another box – without placing the cards in better order, following their numbering.

“They are all mixed!” complained the manager, which the other two fellows echoed verbatim.

“They are all mixed!” they said.

I could believe that, watching them mixing the cards up even further as they sought my single card, and had to take matters into my own hands.

Sifting quickly through two batches of cards told me the numbering sequence of each batch of 200 within two minutes and I tested two others to confirm it, then simply checked the top card in two other batches to find the one that most probably held my own.

I found it.

The manager was somewhat astonished, because at first he had watched me and seemed to roll his eyes at how I was too lazy to go through each and every card in each batch I had held up.

By that time I didn’t feel generous enough to launch into a session of lugezi-gezi and just signed documents in a couple of places but insisted on walking him out to the forecourt to explain the reason I had left the station in November last year – hoping that at least that simple level of orderliness would one day be enforced.

He politely appreciated my issue, and promised to effect change. Right there and then, the fellow who should have taken up my first fuel purchase using the loyalty card attempted to exhibit his deep-seated disorganisation but the manager was on hand to set him right.

For the next five minutes, at least, I observed utmost organisation at play, and I kept hope alive.

One day, we will all be organised, orderly and we will all stop thinking that it is a disorder. ‘We’ being Good Ugandans!

mwe abagagga, give us back our pavements!


The other day on Twitter a discussion kicked off around container-carrying trucks being inappropriate for the middle of the city or residential areas such as Nakasero and Kololo. 

And one tweep (it’s not impolite – that’s what we call people on twitter) jumped in accusing us of being elitist because there are floods in Bwaise that need attention. But his problem was speed of wit.

So even if you are from Bwaise and other such areas, the following should be of much interest, but stand warned that it is elitist. Before moving on, however, I think the elitism of this matter is well-placed here based on the assumption that this publication is bought mostly by the elite.

It’s just an assumption because I am keenly aware that there are more high-priced residences on hills such as Kololo, Nakasero, Bugolobi, Muyenga, Naguru, Ntinda et al, than the copies of newspapers sold on Sundays. You see, people like me assume that those residences are occupied by people whose status in life should have them buying and reading newspapers on a regular basis – not just when they go to their offices and find the company or organisation has made the purchase.

We’re not always correct; so back to my elitist issue: 

Some of us have taken to jogging or walking the streets for health reasons – especially many who live in the areas abovementioned.

While doing so, we face threats to life from open manholes and insensitive drivers, for which a group of us initially blamed the Kampala City Council (and now Kampala Capital City Authority). It was their fault, we said, that manholes weren’t covered, and that we don’t have pavements or sidewalks.

Jog-walking round part of Kololo this week I dodged a couple of open, surprisingly-placed manholes but spent more time and effort dodging cars as even in this most expensive part of Kampala there are no pavements.

Additionally irritating is a section of Prince Charles Avenue (very posh name but…) that is living in Amin’s regime or Obote II or the early days of the NRA/M when soldiers and senior government officials hadn’t yet grasped the concept of power belonging to the people.

Image

Half the road section has been cordoned off for more than a year with soil-filled drums and concrete pipe sections. KCCA’s twitter handle (@KCCAUG) explained this week that, “Work is set to start on the retaining wall on this road. Half closure was done for safeguard.” Whatever that meant, even when the road is cleared, there will still be insufficient pavements or sidewalk space.

The fault, however, is not KCCA’s. Not directly. We selfish property owners have confiscated public land by erecting walls close to the kerb and planting what we sometimes call “the Imageoutside compound”. (The KCCA should reign us in one of these days and demand that homeowners re-create common spaces and respect them – but that’s another call to action altogether, and very soon we will have to join hands in making the call and also helping the people at KCCA take the necessary action.)

It definitely started in the days when people with strong peasant mentalities suddenly found themselves to be ‘landed’, moreover in the city. Plus, the same mentalities made us/them drive cars to wherever they went so there was never a thought given to theImage need for comfortable perambulation (love that word!). 


Have you ever seen a mugagga walking down the road to buy sugar or toilet paper? See, we send the maid or drive to the supermarket!

And mind you, the concept of relaxation by taking an evening walk…that was stuff we saw when we were children. 

And as a child I also walked from home to my city primary schools and most times had reasonable pavement space for my little feet, but have noticed over the years that this kept steadily decreasing to today when most of my walking or jogging has me competing with cars and boda-bodas all being operated by insensitive, crazy people whose mentality is still very close to their villages or days long-gone. 

Today’s children are more at risk as they walk to school, than we were. As are maids, gardeners and other non-resident domestic workers employed by the same house-owners who have taken over pavement and road reserve spaces.

Unless this health-exercise trend grows quicker.Image

You see, if more and more residents of these houses in Kololo, Nakasero, Bugolobi, Muyenga, Naguru, Ntinda et al begin jogging or taking strolls in the evenings, they will realise the need for pavements and sidewalks. 

(And by now, I trust you will be in agreement with me that even this elitist issue has an impact or reach on people in Bwaise and other such places…)