Lately so many people have been out to put my patience to test. Many times I have lost my patience and I have had to give people a piece of my mind.
I am definitely talking about punctuality and time keeping. Many of us as Kenyans do not seem to get it. Time is precious and when you set appointments, kindly honor your word. Be it a casual meeting, social engagements, official schedules or even interviews, I still want to believe there is need and lots of room for many of us to improve. It is said, there are two precious things in this life, time and relationships. I believe this to the core. Minding my time means you care about me and this improves our relationship.
I have to say, I am not always punctual but I try my very best. Out of 10, I can comfortably give myself an 8. I have come a long way and I am proud of myself. Norway taught me some good manners and I am not letting that fade away.
I remember my days at Baraka FM when I had to read news at every top of the hour from mid-morning. Often, I would be caught by time and would need to rush, getting into the studio panting. In some occasions, my colleagues would even let the news intro and outro play without the news, and their explanation would be: “It’s Patience’s turn to read the news but she is not here yet.”
Once, I got a memo from the news editor warning me that for every news bulletin I missed, I would be fined with a deduction effected on my salary. Of course I corrected and reminded myself that it was very important to ensure that I was always in the office earlier. News was sponsored, this meant that for every missed broadcast, money was lost and I knew if I did not pull up my socks, then one day I would pay a hefty fine.
This Tuesday, I put myself into a test, just to prove to myself it is possible to keep time. I had to meet a client and therefore, I decided to set the appointment myself. I asked, “Can we meet at exactly 3pm at your office?” “Yes, that is fine with me,” she assured me.
I did this deliberately. Part of my thinking was, if I asked to meet this lady at a central place, there was a high possibility she would come late, I would end up waiting for long and hence getting irritated. Secondly, knowing that it is me who set the time, then I knew I had no choice but make it there by exactly 3pm. You don’t need to make a guess on this one. I made it on time.
Ok, now let’s discuss this lateness syndrome by Kenyans. Last week, I had an interview with a musician and was forced to wait for 2 hours before he arrived. When he finally showed up, I looked at him and pinched myself, “Patience, don’t say a word, just let him be.” I consoled myself, rationalizing that after all, it was me who needed him most. On the contrary, I knew what he did not know, that he would be paid some good money if the interview was successful. If only he knew that his time meant money!
The most irritating thing about his lateness is that when I called him I asked that he let me meet him at his most convenient place and time. “I will be heading to the airport and since there might be a traffic jam in the afternoon lets meet on Mombasa road at 1pm.” He said. I made it there by 1pm. Unfortunately I had to wait for almost 2 hours. He showed up at 2.48 pm. You can imagine my sadness. I am parked near Mombasa road, it is scorching hot, I try calling him several times in vain. When I’m almost giving up, he calls me and says, “Give me 10 minutes I will be there.” He shows up 28 minutes later!!
That very same week, I needed to go for an interview at a certain office. One and half hours later, I was still at the reception waiting. When I lost my patience, I asked the receptionist if they would let me come another day, when the panel was ready to have me for the interview. After a little consultation, the receptionist got back to me saying, “Sorry, whoever was to see you has just arrived so you will be called in shortly.” This kind of thing sucks, yes it does!
There are a lot of things we can read into this kind of behavior. One, this is a mentality that clearly says, as Kenyans we have a long way to go until we realize that keeping time is very crucial. The mantra “African Time” is here to stay. Two, this social disease shows how we demean ourselves and clearly says that we do not respect other people. Three, this kind of behavior tells a lot about ourselves and our priorities in life. If we cannot be trusted with the little things as time keeping, how can we be trusted with bigger things?
Nairobi’s world renowned traffic jam is no longer an excuse. Leave early enough if you have to get to your destination on time. Unless you are very new in Nairobi and you have no clue about the traffic jam, you have no excuse. I, in particular would not excuse you.
This is one of the reasons we continue to have road accidents day in day out. Every driver seems to be in a hurry to get somewhere. I keep asking matatu drivers, “What’s the hurry for?” They make me sick on the road with what Kenyans call, kata funua, or njaro za kupenya, which means illegal overlapping.
As I grow older I realize I dislike sluggishness. I want more and more people to respect time. I want people to respect other people. Time is precious. I have confessed that I was not always punctual, but I am growing out of it. I pride myself for this. Change is a deliberate decision which you too can make.
When someone gives me an appointment, I plan to be there on time, kindly return the favour by planning to be there on time as well. Life as a two-way traffic lessens our hassle. Let me have my patience back!
“A man who dares waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” Charles Darwin