I’m in a matatu going towards Mountain View. I have gotten the great seat in any matatu especially for people of average to tall height, the one in front right next to the person right next to the driver. The matatu has to come to a stop because there is another matatu right in front of us that has decided to let off some passengers. I can tell from how long we stay still in this traffic that the person getting off is not seated at the epic seat that I am. In fact it’s very clear that whoever this is (who’s in a 14 seater matatu) is seated at the seat at the back. That this person has to ask everyone to move before they can get off the matatu. I can almost see the scene in that matatu. I can imagine the people who don’t want to move and have to being brushed aside as this guy gets to the front. It’s even worse if there is anyone of considerable heft aboard that matatu. This means that phones are being rubbed the wrong way and even though it doesn’t happen that often anymore a survival instinct that abides in all of us who lived in Nairobi during the dark days of the forever phone robberies is immediately lighted. People hunch even closer to each other. This paradoxically makes it even harder for our exitee to leave the matatu it’s as if the fact that people don’t want him this close to them makes it extremely difficult for him to pass through their personal proximity. He keeps trying to leave though and this goes on for a while. We sit there with no movement any which way. The matatu driver is getting pissed (this time I mean mine) he hoots. He hoots and clicks. He hoots and clicks and tuts. He hoots and clicks and tuts and grunts. I can’t resist. I really can’t resist it.
“Hawa wasee wa matatu”
He laughs before he says, “enyewe watu wa matatu”
I also agree with him then he says, “pia we ni mtu wa matatu unajua.”
Of course I am and of course I agree. Public service operators like politicians are reflections of the public they serve. We all want our matatu drivers to be bullish. We don’t want any pussy-footing. We want them to get us where we are going as fast as they possibly can. We hate waiting in traffic. We hate being too late to where we want to get and we hate allowing them to be bullied. Let’s be honest a vast majority of the people almost anywhere in the world rely on public transport to get where they are going. It may seem like all your friends have cars but that’s just a function of your privilege (especially if you really do think this.) most people need that matatu, we are wasee wa matatu and it is thanks to us that matatus act the way they do. It’s our fault that they drive as recklessly as they do and it’s our fault that it keeps happening. We could boycott, we could prefer slower, quieter matatus but we don’t and we really won’t. We fed the monster and it in turn fed us. We live in a completely symbiotic relationship that we don’t want to let go of.
A few metres later the matatu driver also stops right in the middle of the road.
“cheki pia mi nafanya tu hiyo ujinga” he says as we laugh.
The other Saturday begins with an alarm clock. I look at the clock and its set for weekday times so I push it forward by an extra 90 minutes. I should take this opportunity to make it clear that I go to work on Saturdays. It has been one of the worst job experiences of my life. I hate working on Saturday with a passion that has not reduced as time has passed. When I first began I really hated the hangover that would accompany me to work every Saturday. I know that particular hangover well. A shade would be put over my eyes. There was a deep exhaustion, bone deep that accompanied me everywhere. In the Harry Potter books they say that drinking unicorn’s blood can sustain a man forever however there is a trade-off to doing this, the drinking of the blood of something as pure and holy as a unicorn would weigh down on your soul. It would make you half a man. It would grab away some of your essence and leave you with almost nothing at all. Well that’s how I felt almost every Saturday. And at first I really thought I would be able to stop drinking on Friday. I realised I wouldn’t. then I thought I would be able to stop drinking so much on Friday. I couldn’t. so I suffer that hangover every Saturday.
We should be at work at 9 but there’s a Saturday laziness leeway that extends to about 9:30 before you are considered late(recent events have rendered this sentence essentially false). So there I was enjoying the sleep of the drunk. When I finally woke up it was 9.45 according to my phone. I could not even be bothered to hurry up. I was well and truly late, maybe I’d get there an hour later probably more. 11 am was the best thing I could shoot for. Leisurely shower. Breakfast. The lack of the hangover which I attributed to all my extra hours of sleep and then I began to go to work.
We passed by a city clock and I looked at it and I could not tell the time. It looked like it was just past 9 and all the clockfaces told the same story. So I looked back at my phone and it assured me that I was nearly two hours late. So here I was misusing Occam’s razor because none of us ever learned how to shave themselves and assuming that what must have happened is that somebody came through in the middle of the night and set all the clocks back by a couple of hours, you know just to fuck with me.
I come to a lot more clocks (there are three of these clocks on my route to work) and they seem to agree with each other about what the time is. Immediately I get out Occam’s razor and nick myself. This time I think that I have forgotten how to read analogue clocks. I feel sad about this for a short time, resolve not to drink so quite so much on Fridays and I continue to work.
I get to work and apparently its only 9.30 by the reception clock. So then it hits me that what happened was, of course, my phone had the wrong time.