A couple of days ago, I got an invitation to attend an event I thought would be interesting. As usual, I was among the first people to arrive since I am a stickler for time, a habit that I don’t seem to share with many Kenyans.
In spite of the many times I keep getting disappointed, I keep turning up in time — I cannot count the number of times I have found myself alone in an empty room having arrived at an event on time.
Once, I even arrived before the event organiser.
I have tried, many times, to rid myself of this good habit because it works against me, but I have been unsuccessful. And so on this day, I found myself in this conference room alone with the “sound” people who were making last minute testing on their equipment.
To my pleasant surprise, a few minutes later, a woman I gathered was a guest too from the appraising manner with which she scanned the room for the most appropriate seat, walked in. Finally, I had found a kindred spirit, a Kenyan that valued time like I did. She smiled and headed my way.
“Hiiiii!” she said cheerfully. My name is Alice … and you are?”
“Caro,” I answered, reaching out for a handshake.
“Wah! It is too warm for July,” she said, pulling out a chair opposite me and shrugging off her coat.
“I keep telling people global-warming is real,” she announced.
There was no doubt about it, this was a talker, I concluded. I enjoy listening to people as much as I enjoy telling stories (on paper), so I know the symptoms when I see them.
I could not believe my good fortune, this would be a much better way to pass time than looking at the ceiling and twiddling my thumbs, wondering when the tardy Kenyans would finally arrive.
Well, I got more than I had bargained for. I never thought that I’d meet someone who knew something about everything. But there she was, seated right in front of me. Midway into her telling me about her marketing career, I happened to sneeze.
“Do you take omega 3?” She immediately asked, looking concerned. I told her no, only for her to tell me that if I did, I’d never get a cold. I was about to tell her that I didn’t have a cold when she informed me that I shouldn’t bother with “local” omega 3 tablets because they were probably fake. She got hers from “abroad” and if I was interested, she could ask a cousin who lived in the UK, and who “hooked” her up with the supplements, to send an extra bottle, which she could gladly give me.
Before I could get a word in, she launched into a monologue about the poor state of the economy and how the rampant corruption in the country was “instigated by the west” because they wanted countries like ours to remain poor.
As I struggled to digest this theory, she informed me that her mother in-law would be the death of her. “That woman is a witch,” she stated with finality, though she did not elaborate why she felt so strongly about the woman whose son she was married to. She did, however, say that women who were not married should count themselves lucky because they didn’t have to deal with “in-laws from hell”.
By then, as you can imagine, I was mortified, battling, but failing miserably, to deal with the sudden sensory overload I had been subjected to in just a few minutes. Have you ever met such a person? If you have, how did you deal with it without offending them?
The writer is the Editor, ‘Society’ and Magazines, ‘Daily Nation’. [email protected]