Saturday, February 15, 2014

Time = Stress

The saying: ‘Time = Money’ rings true worldwide except in Uganda. I do stand to be corrected because two Ugandans - Dorcus Inzikuru and Stephen Kiprotich realized that if they didn’t employ that formula, there was no way they would have ended up as athletic champions and bagged the winner’s cheque.

The rest of Uganda employs the formula of: ‘Time = Stress’. Why stress ourselves to get to an appointment for 9:30am when we can get there five hours later? Why go to Cineplex to watch a movie that starts at 7:30pm when you can get there at 8:30pm and catch the last hour of it?

We are Ugandan’s and time is NOT a Ugandan thing or invention rather, it’s a European invention and obsession which, we have no desire in embracing because it’s going to stress us out.

I was due to have a meeting in Speke Resort Munyonyo. The day before the meeting, I sent out two e-mails – one at 11:00am, the other at 5:00pm to Stakeholder. He responded to both of them assuring me that he would be there. And to be on the safe side, at 7:00pm, I followed up the e-mails with a polite call and again, I was assured of his presence the following day.

The following day, I was in the resort at 8:30am which afforded me enough time for a full English breakfast and to ready myself for the meeting.

At 9:30am, Stakeholder had not arrived nor had he by 10:30am. I could have called to find out where he was but I let it slide. Shortly after noon, my Nokia cell phone - an import that Ugandans have embraced, vibrated. It was Stakeholder asking me if the meeting was still on.

I reminded him that the meeting was called for 9:30am and now he calls two-and-a-half hours later to ask if it was still on. His excuse? That I didn’t call him in the morning to re-confirm despite having set him two e-mails and calling him the previous day.

“Oh yes Stakeholder, the meeting is still on. We are merely waiting for you” so I told him with more than a touch of sarcasm to which he replied without a hint of shame, apology or embarrassment that he was on his way.

He was coming from Kawempe – way past the Roko offices and seeing it was lunch time and a jam to consider, I estimated it would take him close to an hour-and-half to get to Munyonyo.    

Eventually at 2:30pm, and a staggering five hours after our scheduled appointment time of 9:30am and after I had had a full English breakfast, drank endless cups of coffee that necessitated marathon trips to the washroom to empty my bladder, read New Vision from cover to cover including all the classified ads, tenders, death announcements and had lunch, he calls from the car park asking where in the resort he could find me.

I was polite and asked him to wait by his car. Then I packed up my stuff, headed to the car park and when I saw him, I shook my head and told him the meeting has just been cancelled.

This is what happened next. He simmered like a saucepan of mushroom soup about to come to the boil. He went livid! He berated me for having wasted his time and fuel in making him drive all the way from Kawempe to Munyonyo for ‘nothing’! And before he drove away, he labelled me as being ‘unserious’!

And this tirade comes from a man who made me wait five hours for him. So you see why the ‘Time = Money’ philosophy does not work for Ugandans but ‘Time = Stress’ does?