Friday 29th July 2016
The other day I wrote about carrying your own weather. Today I write about carrying nothing. Here’s why. A few months ago I had a conversation with a colleague at work and she gave me some candid feedback on my interpersonal skills. She told me that if I over-analyze everything that people say or do, I will not only weaken my own heart but also end up making others walk on egg shells around me in a bid to not hurt me. While that doesn’t sound too bad because who likes to get hurt after all, it IS actually bad because who wants to be surrounded by people talking to you like you are an egg? I like eggs though, fried, sunny side up, how about you? Okay, that was a side note.
I had never seen it that way, by the way. That you could make people walk on egg shells. I think I always thought, people should do better. People should be more caring, more careful with words, more considerate, less careless, less callous etc. But people are not like that, and people don’t always say or do stuff with the intention to hurt, in fact they don’t think that far or that hard, and they don’t think about it afterwards either, so I end up mulling over this or that and beating myself up over it meanwhile the person moved on a long time ago. To use a commonly used phrase nowadays, it’s never that deep.
A few days after that interaction with my colleague, I had the opportunity to witness the true meaning of ‘carrying nothing’. Our car’s window had been broken on a Sunday- how that happened is a long story- but it wasn’t me, thankfully- and basically we needed to get it fixed. Both Poriot and I happened to be off from work on that Monday so to spend time together we agreed (in marriage this often means one person convinced/coerced the other into agreeing :-)) that we’d take the car to the garage together. Our usual garage guy gave Poriot the number for another guy who specifically does windows. Because we didn’t know where his garage was, we called him when we were on our way there. First of all I had wanted us to call him BEFORE we left the house to make sure he was there but Poriot said he had talked to him earlier and told him that he would bring the car, so we didn’t need to call again. Okay, sawa, I said.
On our way there I now called him on Poriot’s phone so he could give us directions. He picked and I explained that I was the wife of the guy who called yesterday about the broken window. ‘So now we are on the way, would you please direct us?’ He told me the name of the street and a post office where once we got there we were to call him. After hanging up, I told Poriot that this guy sounded very detached and disinterested, and almost like he was not enthusiastic about us. Poriot, amused as always, reminded me that we were not going to marry this guy or ask him to be godfather to any of our children so it’s okay so long as he could fix the window- that was our business with him. True, I said. Lesson number one. Focus on the issues at hand.
When we got to the said post office at the Industrial Area, we called him again. We described our car and he came across the road then called us on phone and waved, said he could see us, we saw him too, he told us to follow him. His garage was just down the street. I had thought that he would come over to the car, shake our hands, introduce himself and so on, but clearly that was not the way it’s done. All this time Poriot was unfazed, while me I was thinking ‘Haki this guy… (Surely this guy), could he be a little more social?’
Anyway we got to the garage and I was getting ready to now introduce ourselves properly, shake hands, share the story of how the window broke, how the Kenyan economy is doing etc. etc. Hehe. Nope, our glass guy acknowledged us with a friendly nod and came over to Poriot’s side which was the side with the broken window and was like, “Ah, ni hii? It’s this one? Sawa (Okay).” He then called one of his other guys who came out of the building eating a cob of boiled maize. This other guy eating the maize in fact looked so nicely dressed I wasn’t sure if he was just a visiting customer being told to come look at our window or if he actually worked there too. Turned out he was our guy, he was the one who was going to fix our window. With a slight nod and maize cob in hand, he checked the window, and then got his tool-bag which had been shelved on top of a mabati (iron) structure and got down to work. He removed the whole door and took different parts of it apart it seemed, very meticulously and easily. I had never realized how intricate the mechanics of car windows are and how many parts assemble to make that easy movement of window up and window down a smooth movement.
I was truly just watching all this in amazement. How men work is so different! I mean when I go to the hair salon we start with niceties, ‘How have you been, how are the kids, would you like some tea’ etc. etc. Here, it seemed people just got down to business. Poriot and I sat in the shade and chatted. At one point a huge lorry came that needed space to reverse into the compound. One of the other mechanics came to get our keys so that he could move our car out of the way. I asked Poriot why he trusted the guy with our keys and he said well, that was the business they were in – cars. I mean, Wow, me I would have had to give him like a written consent first, call my mum, ask my brothers what they thought, WhatsApp’d my chama (girls/women group)… to check if it was okay for him to move the car. Not that bad but you know what I mean; I would have taken longer to trust. So he moved the car, with my heart in the mouth all the while, what if he hits something. Good news, he didn’t hit anything. The lorry came in, and our car was moved again back to its original place, unscratched.
Then our maize cob guy disappeared for a while. No one told us where he had gone. Poriot was still not fazed. Since this was technically his turf I wanted to play by his rues. So I didn’t go to the garage owner (trust me, I wanted to) to ask him where our maize guy had gone because I already looked out of place, the only female there with my flowery top and black tights and didn’t want to make it worse by asking un-manly questions 🙂
After about twenty minutes our maize guy came back- the maize was finished by this time by the way. He had gone to buy the right window pane. So Poriot was right again, there had been no cause for worry. He came and fixed it within a few minutes, and quite perfectly too! Then the owner of the garage came over and asked the maize one, ‘How much,’ and he told him how much in exactly one sentence. So the owner guy, the one we weren’t going to marry, relayed the same amount to us. Poriot paid, got back his change and then this guy said, “Sawa, asante sana” ‘Thanks very much’. We too said, ‘Thank you very much’. I had wanted to say a bigger thank you to our maize guy, but he had already gone inside perhaps to get more maize…
So about an hour after we had arrived there our window was fixed perfectly and we were on our way. No hard feelings, no emotions bared. I share this story because in that one hour or maybe two hours beginning from the trip from home, to leaving that garage, there were so many opportunities to worry and question and judge and be frazzled but doing it the ‘men way’, there was no sweat. I am not saying we should all be like men but it’s more about not worrying too much and carrying unnecessary baggage.
As we celebrate five years of being married this weekend, this is truly one of the things I thank Poriot for. The skill of not worrying too much and instead focusing on the issue at hand, on what needs to get done, not the possible , often unwarranted, emotions surrounding what needs to get done. I am not fully Poriotized yet (and don’t think I should be because that would be boring, he would be stuck with a wife who doesn’t worry about every little thing and what’s the fun in that? 🙂 ) , but I can say I am not where I used to be. Take away lesson for you who is reading this, well, that it’s never too deep, unless, of course, you are going to marry the person or ask them to be godparent of your kid. Also, another lesson is that you can eat maize and check a broken car window all at the same time.