Of Lorries and Tractors

Tuesday 25th November 2014

On Tuesday night this week, we were coming from visiting our Auntie who is my mum-in-law’s sister. After a beautiful afternoon with her and overfeeding (which is one of the great incentives for visiting her, besides her intriguing stories ), we left for Bethel. Her home is about an hour’s drive on rough road from where we live.

As we drove off, we found a lorry stuck on the road. Next to it was a tractor. Auntie’s home is near the Timboroa Forest so we often meet with lorries and trucks going to and from the forest carrying trunks/timber on our way to her house. There are also sawmills in the area so the place where we found this lorry was near a saw mill not far from her home. We thought that obviously on seeing another car, they would move the lorry and tractor to make way for this other (our) vehicle to pass. Duh, right? Wrong. They didn’t budge. In fact it was like they hadn’t seen us. We waited a few minutes to see if like a light bulb would come on for them. Nada. So Poriot got out to go talk to them to figure out if this lorry was in fact parked or actually stuck in the mud and couldn’t move as it had rained earlier and the road was muddy. Nope, the lorry was okay they just decide to park smack in the middle of the road and they were going to finish loading the planks of wood before they would move. Just like that. Poriot stayed out there for a while during which I wondered what was taking so long, I mean it should be pretty simple- driver jumps onto the lorry, turns ignition on, moves the lorry, we drive past, he moves his lorry back where he wants it, and they continue with their loading. Little did I know that the people we were dealing with were inconsiderate, stubborn, and just plain mean.

We had left Auntie’s house at about 6.30pm. It was growing dark fast. In the car, I was with Lulu, Lukundo and two of our kids from the Home, a young lady and a young man who both finished high school last year. So I knew we were safe; it wasn’t so much an issue of safety as it was just an issue of needing to drive home and not be stuck on a road waiting for people to load wooden planks that have nothing to do with us. The owner of the wood was this woman who stood by the side of the vehicles over-seeing the operation. Poriot came back to the car and told us that the people had said they would have to finish first before moving. I don’t want to write the expletives that came to my mind in that moment- directed at these people, of course, not Poriot- obviously! And this narrative is really about that. How at times a person or a situation can stretch your patience to wits end. I wondered if these people knew that we had small kids in the car, that we needed to get home, that it was insane to park in the middle of a public road and refuse to move for other equally rightful users of said road.

Now between Poriot and me; I am the more confrontational one- if you couldn’t guess. Perhaps the words I should use are forward, forthright… maybe a bit combative at times? *Covers face *I am all about taking the bull by the horns. I’m not very good at letting things simmer off and all that patience wisdom stuff. Nope. If I have an issue with you , chances are I will tell you right there, right then, that you have wronged, are wronging or are about to wrong me. Yes, even if you are in the middle of like having a baby, climbing a palm tree or skiing down a slope. I will require you to stop so that I can delineate for you the ways in which you have erred me. Once I’m done and all apologies are said (and accepted), we move on and you can continue delivering, climbing, skiing etc. So, in this our lorry situation, I couldn’t understand how and why Poriot had come back to the car and advised us to just wait. My thinking was, I hand over Lulu to her dad. I go out there, give the group of men, (note, men), a piece of my mind and have them move their big bad lorry for heaven’s sake!

At one point the woman who was the owner of the wood, almost slipped as she was walking back and forth, and I found myself wishing that she should have in fact slipped and fallen to the ground and possibly broken her back. Yah, I’m a little intense like that- sorry. I also had thoughts of the lorry not making it to its destination…I mean all kinds of evil unchristian, uncouth thoughts. But because I am married to a calm man, and as the head of the family he had said we should wait, and I didn’t want to challenge his authority, I sat pretty (more like red-faced, if black faces could turn red ) and waited. Lulu had started to fuss so I breastfed her and she slept. Lukundo was also getting restless and trying to come to the front, to open the door, to turn on the light inside the car…It was of course growing later and later into the night.

I must be honest, the other thing that made me sit still was that I had an image of me going to ‘talk’ to these men and them giving me a thorough beating- possibly a stripping too – as seems to be the fad in Kenya now- and Poriot and our kids including Lukundo coming to my rescue and it becoming a full out war that would attract other members of the community, and then media people would come and the next day we’d have a picture of me with a black-eye on the front page of national dailies, “Woman thrashed after trying to move lorry from the road”, and with that my impeccable(hic) reputation being ruined… I imagined the family jokes that would follow for years to come. Yah, when I thought about that, sitting and waiting in the car seemed like a wiser option.

Anyway long story short, an hour later the guys finished loading the lorry and they moved and we drove past and as we were driving home it seemed like Gosh, what was that all about? I mean suddenly it didn’t matter that the lorry had been stuck on the road. We were safe, we were going home, we were unharmed, they were unharmed, no damage had been done to anyone or anything, except my emotions, and possibly Poriot’s too but he’s less expressive about these things. We got home at 8.30pm, safe and dry, in time to warm some supper and even in time for my favorite soap, Scandal- the South African one, not the US one with Olivia Pope that everyone is crazy about. No, this is a fabulous South African soap that I have watched diligently on e-tv from 2009 almost religiously, and I mean religiously like I don’t even like to take calls during that time 8.30 to 9 pm (in SA it comes at 7.30 to 8pm, in case you’d like to join my bandwagon). Don’t give me that look; people have worse addictions- bhang, marijuana, beer, fast driving, stealing … so don’t even. Anyhow, I digress. All I’m saying is that in retrospect it didn’t seem like such a big deal that the lorry had been stuck (parked) on the road.

Later I was thinking how so like life that was. At times there is a big mountain or obstacle in front of you that just seems to stop your progress and it’s annoying and you want to take drastic measures (such as I had wanted to go fight those men, never mind that I’m all of five feet tall and not exactly trained in karate or tae-kwon-do), but at times the best thing is to wait it out. It may take a while but some of these situations do dissipate with time. So if you’re facing a lorry in your day or in your life right now, consider waiting it out. If you can take an action that won’t result in causalities and possible self-destruction and self-defamation, then by all means, take action. But if it’s something that you can’t quite change, then perhaps it is okay to wait it out patiently. Once the lorry and tractors move out of your way and you get to the other side, you will look back and thank your stars that you didn’t do anything irrational.

As a side note, I take back that wish for the woman breaking her back. A gentle fall in the mud would have provided comic relief, though. Okay maybe not, as I wouldn’t like my own mother to fall even gently on mud for ‘comic relief’. But if my mother was preventing a car from getting past so that her wood can be loaded onto a lorry, well, then that’s a different story… Or is it? Have a good weekend.

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