Familiar Much?

The time is 10.28pm, Monday 4th December 2017.

I am not yet asleep; I am watching a movie. It’s a Marvel Studios’ production. I am a huge fan of Marvel. Other than the fact that their movies are awesome, they know how to cast. If you are not enjoying the movie, you are enjoying the view. Greek gods…

My phone is ringing. It’s a new number. I stare at my phone, then mute it. I would probably sing along to my ringtone; but it’s late. So muting is the only option. I recognize the number from earlier in the day.

I was meeting my friend after a really long time. All we have been doing is communicate through social media. Comment on posts. Like posts. Spruced up by occasional chats in the inbox. She was in Kisumu, and we decided to meet at around 11am on a sunny day. Levine, beloved sister, am just bringing to your attention, next time we meet you are probably going to wait for me for at least thirty minutes. It has got nothing to do with you keeping me waiting; I just feel deep down in my heart that on that day, I may have a valid reason for being late.

We headed to Naivas Supermarket, for some refreshments while catching up.

Just as we were in the middle of exchanging the latest gossip (please read important data exchange) a young man lurch at the edge of our table. Not tall, not short. Dark complexion. I hadn’t noticed him until he spoke. It really is wrong to interrupt such weighty discussions between ladies. I was hoping this was important. Part of my mind was convinced he knew Levine. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Hi…” he said in a tremulous voice.

Hi”, Levine reacts.

My name is Kevin Omondi

***awkward silence***

Levine stares at her phone. I stare at him. He suddenly had my attention. A man who walks to a table of ladies confidently grabs my attention. It doesn’t matter if you speak gibberish, you have that courage, you got my attention.

Ok, I have told you my name how about you also tell me yours…” he says addressing both of us.

Hahaha… I didn’t realize that was the trade,” I remark.

hehe… ok, so what are your names?

Paula

Huh? Pau…

Paula. P-A-U-L-A

Wow. Ok. And you are?” addressing Levine, who has now kept her phone away.

Levine

Lavine

No. It’s Levine, not Lavine

There is actually a difference you know”, I add.

Wow. You ladies have unique names.” He declares, and immediately adds, “But I told you two names and you’ve told me just one each.”

You made the choice to tell us two of your names. That doesn’t mean we are bound to do the same. Does it?” I politely asked. It may not look so in writing, but believe me, it was polite. Sort of. Let’s not dwell on that.

Not really. Anyway, am not sure if you noticed me, but I have been observing you from where we were seated. I just had to come and say hello.

Oh… No we didn’t notice you…” It’s really good to be honest.

You really look familiar you know. I think I have seen you somewhere…” he said with his eyes fixed on me. Levine, God bless her lack of self-restraint, burst into laughter. A cruel mocking laugh with no pretense of sympathy. I could have laughed too, but one of us needed to play the composed role.

Ummm… Let me try to get this… Could it be that I look familiar because a few minutes ago he was busy staring at me before having made the very brave decision to come over and blurt it out… In the process, he suddenly realized how I am familiar because like I said, he had just been observing me… Which makes the issue of my familiarity in his memory (which is still very fresh and dependable) abit confusing. To an extent that his mind assumes I may be familiar from a past incident… It’s possible because it all just happened in less than an hour. Therefore, deducing that I look familiar is simply an affirmation that he has a good and working short term memory; but does not in any way mean am actually familiar.

Ok… I know, I got a little carried away in my thoughts there. It would have easily been a labyrinth in my mind had he not spoken again.

Could I have any of your numbers?” His voice flat and steady.

Wait, you actually want to choose between us whose number you want?” Levine asked him.

Yes. I will appreciate any number…”

Before we discuss whose number you may or may not get, how about we go a little back to the matter of my familiarity to you. Do people still use that line? It’s really getting old you know…” I told him.

Am serious. I must have seen you somewhere…” Hahaha… Like am going to buy that. It could be true. But pffft…

Hahaha… nice try. So whose number do you want?” I asked him.

I will appreciate anyMaybe even both” He scoffs darting his eyes across the table.

You really need to be more specific than that,” I insisted.

She is my sister. You can’t ask for just any of our numbers. And you can’t have both. Just tell us which number you want,” Levine said coolly.

I can even take yours.” He says pointing to Levine. “…as long as it helps me get to her,” pointing to me. Wow dude. Wow.

Aha… So it’s my number you want?” I asked in a calm, unhurried voice.

Yes” accompanied with a little chuckle.

Well why couldn’t you just go straight to the point…” Levine said (gesturing at a bottle of soda on the table) “If you needed this soda, would you have gone in circles before picking it up?

hahaha… no

At this point I was convinced he would just drag himself  away. But he didn’t. He reached out and handed me his phone. I graciously took it. Keyed in my number and handed it back to him. I didn’t save it. How he saves my number on his phone is his business. I just hope he doesn’t include ‘h’ somewhere. To confirm if it’s a real number, he calls me. (this is why I recognized the number)

Ok, thank you. I will give you a call later we talk…

I nodded.

Just then, he rolls away. My number the latest acquisition in his contact list; probably saved with the wrong spelling.

Drama follows you,” Levine says with a cheeky smile on her face.

You have no idea how much, I thought to myself.

Back to this moment. Am staring at my phone as it rings; still not sure of how or if to answer it at all, until the screen goes black. It is late. I am not picking a call from someone I just met earlier in the day; who had all day to call me but chooses this time, and who may or may not want to ‘interrogate’ me to figure out how to manipulate his speech into making the topic of my familiarity sound more believable.

Men, or the boy child, please stop with that line. It may be true, but we are sick of it.

I expect the phone to ring for a second time. But it doesn’t. I go back to watching. Then my phone beeps. It’s a message. It is awash with the words (these are not even words) ‘plz’ and ‘dia’.

I keeeeeeennnnnntttt!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, for those waiting for me to clear the way, am sorry to disappoint you. As long as am still ‘dia’ and familiar, something I will never buy, the jam is going to be here for a while.

I have said this before, am not a popular person. There is no way I am familiar to people. (Remember paranoia?) Even if I am, don’t tell me. And if you tell me, then you are lying. That line is dead.

***************************************

The time is 7.54am, Tuesday 5th December.

With my earphones plugged in, I am listening to music. My phone rings. It’s the same number…

To pick or not to pick… Decisions… decisions… decisions…

Hello Ex Friends

Hello Ex friends,

It’s been a while. I am doing really fine; how you are doing is your own personal issue right now. Why am I writing to all of you now? Well, lately I have been thinking about all of you. How my time with each of you was, and I just felt I should write something about that. I initially planned to write an anonymous story on another blog that would have featured all of you, but well, here we are. I know you all wouldn’t mind; and even if you did, you have no say. Anyway, just know none of your names will be featured here.

So straight to the main thing. What happened? My time with each of you was wonderful, some of you made me almost believe in the whole life-time-BFF thing; then the inevitable happened. We went our separate ways. Was it me? Don’t answer that, really irrelevant at this point. But it would be good if some of you would one day send me the cliché message ‘hey, it’s not you. It’s me’. Then maybe I would have gotten some closure and wouldn’t be here right now writing to all (is it 5, 6 or more) of you.

Ex 1. Remember that one time when we all, for lack of a better word, hated that other person? No? Well I do remember that time. Because you and I made such good memories and had fun times finding faults and things to laugh at in the other people. It was so much fun because in as much as it was your idea, I found it interesting to have something to do with you. Can you imagine my shock when the two of you actually became BFFs? Trust me, the look on my face at that point was priceless. I was hurt; not because of the new bond, but because you dumped my ass so fast and hard I think I broke a bone. Anyway, I accepted it. I did my best to be friends with you on my lower level, but time and distance may have been on your side. I moved on.

Ex 2. Wow. You have broken my heart more times than I would want to admit. Sometimes I think I have learnt my lesson with you, then you show up, all humble and needy and I fall for it. You shower me with love like never before; and it really is intoxicating. You my friend, might just be my drug. You know, cocaine. You are bad for me, but am addicted to you. I should know better, I know, but damn! Anyway, the numerous times you broke my heart, I always rose. I would take you back in the blink of an eye, but am not sure if I can do that anymore. See, before I considered you as family; and now? Naah… You and I were more than just friends; I would do anything for you. I kept your secrets. I advised you where necessary. I loved you. I confided in you. Then one day you left. You changed your number; and you became tight with all those who hated me. It still breaks my heart. It is because of you that I actually decided to write this. And since we are being honest, I still stalk you online. Maybe even daily. You look happy with your new life, and in as much as it hurts me, am happy for you.

Ex 3. Where do I begin with you? I only added you to this list because I started thinking of all my ex friends. Among them, you were the bitchiest. (Since Word didn’t underline that it means it’s an actual word). Why am I saying you are the bitchiest? You deliberately tried to sabotage a good thing I had going. I tried my best to forgive you, but you and I, nope. You were a mistake from the beginning. How’s your new life by the way? Good? I don’t really care about it. Just enjoy your life. Bye Felicia!

Ex 4. You are among the latest. You and #2. You haven’t fully settled down at the Ex zone but you are already there. All I need to do is shut the door on your face now. And that will be done shortly. I just have some things to get off my chest with you first. Expect my call anytime from wherever. You and I started really well. I being the conservative type decided to take some time to know your intentions before ever opening up to you. So when I finally did, it felt good. Because you always had my back. I would come to you with a silly thing I did, or was planning to do and you were on my team. Then one day, you met one of the people that actually made my life a living hell, and just like the others in this list, you drifted. (I am noticing a pattern here.) Your betrayal hurt me because it happened right under my nose. I mean, I saw it coming, but somehow I just hoped it wouldn’t happen. But it did, right after I opened up to you. Why would you do that? Anyway, I will revisit your situation. Am still in shock.

Ex 5, 6 and the many more. There is nothing to tell you. Some of you are history. No hard feelings though. You don’t expect me to talk about all of you now, do you?

The no hard feelings thing goes for all of you, except #2. I still can’t wrap my head around it. Anyway, why did you all decide to betray me? Do you people know how much of a good friend I was to all of you? Of course you don’t. How could you when the only thing you ever thought about was yourselves? Am I mad at any of you? Hell yeah! Am very mad. Extremely mad. I am a fragile person, and the moment you all learnt of that you ducked the other way. What is wrong with you?

You know I wouldn’t have been so mad if some of you had just walked away with some decorum. But no, you had to spill some of my secrets. You had to rub it in my face that I was just a phase and you were now moving on. I get it, it’s your life, now if only you wouldn’t use your lives to ruin mine we would be in a better place. Don’t you all think so? I think so. I kept and am still keeping the information about most of you as I know it’s the right thing to do. Spilling some of the things I know would ruin your current lifestyle choices and I don’t roll like that. Believe it or not, am a good person.

All in all, after thinking about my time with all of you, I realized one thing. It’s not me; it’s never been me. It’s you.

Yours Exly, (I’ve made this up)

Paula.

 

***PS. Hey future friends, when you see me hesitant with this friendship thing, just know am very skeptical, paranoid, and I have a lot of trust issues***

My Boss Is A Jerk

A few months ago, I got a job with a highly reputable company. I was lucky to have been one of the elite to partake the training prior to being accepted in the company. It was a test by my now boss to see which candidates can work best under all circumstances and be able to deliver. I know I should be glad I have a job, but the truth is, my boss is a jerk. Sort of. I will explain.

She is a very young lady, definitely not even in her 30s. She is chocolate in complexion and is indeed very beautiful. If we were both single and she was not my boss, I would definitely pursue her. She is a slim lady who is perfectly endorsed in the right places. Her hips curve perfectly just at the right angle to compliment her small waist. She has stern eyes. When she stares at you, you are tempted to confess all your secrets to her, hoping you successfully hide the fact that you think she is a jerk. She wears no make up except for a pinch of lipstick enough to get you staring at her lips like an idiot. Her hair is always in different styles, but natural. My boss is the true definition of African beauty. Except she is a jerk.

About a week ago, one of my colleagues left the boss’s office almost in tears. She is a young lady whom I had started this job with, so we were a team. I went over and asked her what had happened. She looked at me with anger in her eyes and told me ‘that bitch just told me to redo the work I have been doing tirelessly for the past week. And guess what? She wants it by Monday. It’s Friday Mark. Friday!’.  I know women can be emotional hazards so I tried to come up with a consoling statement before walking back to my desk. I couldn’t come up with any so I just gave her a part on the back and walked away. She is not talking to me well lately. I don’t know why.

As I was approaching my desk, I saw my boss walk towards me. She had her eyes fixed on me. Just me. I tried so hard to focus on the right thoughts. Like did I finish my task? Did she see me with Anne and was coming to give me a warning? What did I have for breakfast? Am I hungry? What was the title of that song that keeps playing in all the matatus I board? Anything to keep my thoughts from drifting to her perfect self walking towards me. My boss walks as if she is weightless. Her feet touch the ground at very low volumes she could easily sneak up on you. I find this weird considering the fact that she always wears heels. She is not a tall lady but with her heels, she can easily dwarf anyone she wants. She was wearing a cream trouser suit on that day with a black sleeveless top. However, when walking towards me she wasn’t wearing her coat. Her perfectly toned arms were on full display. Do I like my boss? This is not good…

She got to where I was and stared right into my eyes. She had to tilt her head to an angle to see my eyes and I could see that she hated that. I am a tall guy at 6’ 1”. My height did not seem to please her.

“Mark. Right?”

“Yes madam. That’s me.”

She stared at me as though I had just murdered her cat. I was scared already. She is intimidating.

“Please have a seat. I need to talk to you”

Did she just ask me to sit down? Politely? That was new. I froze. I kept staring at her like the bloody idiot that I am. Why did she need me to sit anyway? Was it her power position issues? I kept wondering as I finally composed myself to sit. I adjusted my trousers just a little bit to ensure all my business was in check and in case of anything, no one would notice. I tried being as discreet as possible, but I know I heard her chuckle.

“How can I help you today madam?”

“I talk first Mark.”

Brutal… But ok

“Sorry…” I gestured towards her and tried maintaining a composed posture.

“How long have you worked here Mark?”

“A few months”

“Do you know the exact number?”

“4 months”

“Wonderful. What exactly do you do here?”

“I am in marketing”

“Mark…What exactly do you do here?”

“I handle marketing and promotion of this company’s products and services. In addition, I also help boost the social media following”

“That’s now an answer.”

She then stares at her watch, then at her phone. Why would she need to check the time twice? Did she know just how uncomfortable her proximity made me? After a minute of silence, she cleared her throat and looked at me again. Her eyes are stern, but still magical.

“How much do you earn?”

“Per month?”

“Do I pay you any other way?”

“50000. Net salary.”

“Hmmm… Do you have a family Mark?”

“Not yet. But I hope to one day”

“Do you save for your family?”

“I do what I can madam”

“You need to stop calling me Madam. It makes me feel old. How would you feel if I reduced your salary?”

“Are you planning to do that?”

“Not really an answer Mark”

“I would feel really bad… honestly I might even consider looking for another job. I barely survive with the 50k.”

She did not talk to me. I knew I had messed up big time. Me and my big mouth! Couldn’t I have just kissed her ass and given her the answer she might have hoped for? But who ever knows what she thinks?

“Are you good at your job?”

“Yes I am”

“Would you like to keep it?”

“Yes. It’s hard finding a job in my field. I need this job.”

“Hmmmm…I need evidence of your ‘good work’ by noon. Is that possible?”

“Yes”

It was 10minutes to noon. That bitch! She did not walk away. She pulled a chair and sat on it. Swinging round and round as the clock ticktocked. I honestly was confused. I had no idea how to behave. How do I give her proof of my good work? Therefore, I decided to sell one of her company’s services as she watched. I made a call to a promoter friend of mine who is helping me look for a plan B job. I ensured the phone call was loud enough that she could hear both sides from where she sat. I told my boy to get me a client interested in the company’s services. A few minutes later, I had convinced a stranger over the phone to switch from their random suppliers and be loyal to us. All I needed to do was draft an agreement for the client to sign.

I had less than a minute left to midday. I turned to my boss and told her “am done”.

She glanced up from her phone and asked me calmly “do you want a raise?”

“Yes I do.” I had realized it’s straight forward answers that work with her.

“You might get a 7% raise starting next month”

“Thank you mad… sorry. Thank you”

She smiled at me and stood up. I stood up too. Just in case there was a handshake to cement the new deal. She just looked at me as if I was some lost puppy. She turned her glance across the room to where my colleague was. While still staring she asked me “why can’t some people just do their work efficiently?” I knew better than to answer that one so I just kept quiet. She went ahead and said, “I should hire your friend. The one who linked you to a client. Am firing someone soon”

What did she mean by someone? Was it me? Was it Anne? She was after all staring at her while saying that. She had just promised me a raise, not directly, but it should count. That someone couldn’t be me, right? If its Anne, do I give her a heads up? Or would that get me fired too? This lady acted like she was made of stone. There are stories that she was deeply hurt and completely shut down after that. But no one knows any fact about her. Except that, she is a jerk.

She turned and looked at me. Then turned to walk away. Her light steps fading as she disappeared into her elegant office. That was the second time I heard her voice, and the first time she talked directly to me. The first time was while she addressed all employees on the day I joined. Just as she sat down in her office, I got an email. It was from her. To paraphrase it, it said she needed an immediate report on all my accomplishments in the company and to notify me that I would be working on the weekends. Half a day. I literally had no words.

On that day, I left work earlier than usual. Coincidentally, a bad one, I shared the lift downstairs with my boss. She maintained silence in the whole ride. Once we were on the ground floor, she asked me, “Am I a bad boss Mark?”

That was not one of those questions that needed honesty. So I told her “No, you are a good boss”

She smiled at me and looked at her watch.

“See you tomorrow. And don’t be late”

Continue reading My Boss Is A Jerk

I NEED A DRIVER

By the end of this piece, I hope someone will be kind enough to be my driver.

Before we start getting all jumpy about this, just know I don’t have a car. I need a driver, who has a car. It’s sort of a package deal. It is more like calling for an Uber but this time round a rental, until I get my own. I am beyond done with public transport. Dunzo! Public transport and I are at that point in a relationship where reconciliation is the last option. Moving on for the sake of peace is quite literally the only option left. Very few things can really piss me off. Bad food (ok, if you can’t cook, kindly do not offer to cook for me. I value good food). Lies (there is a thin line between the truth and a lie. It’s called choice). A terrible journey (this is our focus today)

My standards just don’t seem to mix with the public transport standards. It’s either that or guys are just out to get me. It can easily be both.

Travelling is one of my favourite hobbies, yet I am always complaining anytime I travel. I am planning to go on a vacation soon. More reasons why I need a driver. I know some may begin questioning my account balance. Who goes on vacation when the country is being given a bitter dose of humility? Well, it is for that very reason that I need a vacation. What happens when the economy keeps dropping day by day? I may never get to afford such a thing again. So yes, we are being humbled in the worst way, but I am planning to live well. Plus travelling isn’t even that expensive really.

So travelling. I have specific preferences when am travelling. I need a window seat. And if I don’t get that, then the one with the window seat should know how to balance the temperature in the vehicle. I am not going to suffocate in a matatu. Hell no! Apart from the window seat, it would be of much importance to me if the driver does not play music so loud that I can’t hear my own thoughts. Still on the music, it should be in a language we all understand. By ‘all’ here I mean Kenyans. Music is the reason my worst route is the Nyahururu-Nairobi route. Those guys play loud Mugithi music and it gets worse when they join in the chorus with their perfectly out of key voices. Imagine a frog singing in soprano. Do take your time please… I believe you now see my frustration.

Next preference when travelling is to have a quiet vehicle. How quiet? Pin drop. I don’t like it when everyone is talking in a matatu. The person at the back seat wants to engage the one seated with the driver in a lengthy conversation about the weather. And no, not the one we are all experiencing on the road. The one they have left wherever they are coming from. You are coming from the same goddamn place! And headed to the same place. How about you discuss that while there. Another preference would be a new vehicle. It’s just not fair to sentence someone to an hour-long journey with a lot of crickiry-crickiry noise from the body and a deafening cry of a dying engine. Save the poor vehicle and make it scrap metal. I should write a proposal on that.

There are some irritating people habits that I can’t stand in a matatu ever. One, How is it that some people just can’t stop eating? I get it, food is important. Big deal. Why would someone need a whole week’s supply of food in a 1-hour journey? These people eat everything. Everything. As long as its food, they will eat it. My worst is groundnuts. I don’t eat any nuts. That sounds weird but moving on… Another one is avocados. How do you eat avocado in a public vehicle without some decorum? The way people eat avocados in a matatus is just nasty and very gross. Picture this. You are sitting next to someone eating avocado, the vehicle hits an emergency break and just like that you are covered in avocado. Not just you but it flies around messing the other passengers’ clothes. Maybe am paranoid.

Two, I think we can all agree that a phone call is a private thing. We all don’t need to hear a conversation we are not part of. If you don’t want to involve us in the call, then regulate your voice and the call volume. Imagine yourself in a vehicle where everyone is speaking on phone, and it’s too loud that you can literally hear what both parties are saying. This is a common behaviour with businessmen. It’s like to announce your success, you must at least receive one phone call per journey and yell at the poor fella whose sole mistake was calling you while you were near people. This is just one hell of a sick move. I cannot stand that anymore.

Three, there is something about respecting someone’s phone that some public transport users just don’t seem to comprehend. It’s the respecting part. You are travelling and having a lively conversation with someone via text, only to realize you are not the only one viewing your phone. Your neighbour is so much glued to your screen just as much as you are! There are no words to express the anger that follows that. One time some guy asked me who the people in my photos were. I was searching for a new profile picture. I get it; there is an access law that was passed recently. It does not cover my phone!

Four, tantrums. I love children. They love me. But my love for children is sort of becoming conditional. I love those who love being quiet. No tantrums. If there are any, at least let them be diplomatic. Ok, I get how that’s too much to ask, but they’ve got to learn such things early. The future of diplomacy depends on those tiny beings. I have had my fair share of child tantrums in public vehicles to an extent that am beginning to question my tolerance for children all together.

I thought I had seen it all in matatus from loud passengers, bad music, terrible seatmates, invasion of privacy, all the way to a damn food festival until I was travelling from Maseno to Kisumu. (That was a long sentence! Wow!) It was a bus. I wasn’t fortunate enough to get a window seat, but that’s not the focus of this rant. My problem was with a preacher. Yes, a preacher. There are these guys who are always preaching in vehicles. Then will later ask for some handouts, politely I might add. Not this preacher. He was one arrogant son of a *you know what*. This guy boards the bus at the same stage that I did. He finds a seat just next to the conductor. 10 minutes into the journey, he whispers something to the conductor, then walks over to the driver, and does the same. The driver turns off the radio and pastor begins his road sermon. Let me just state this very clearly, it was good music turned off. That’s some rare thing to find especially in a public vehicle. The guy talked about Noah, he talked about Daniel, he talked about every other Sunday-school story I have ever heard. He talked for the whole journey. Just as we were about to arrive in Kisumu, he asked for his offering. I was just about to pull a 50-shilling note and hand it over when he ruined it. “Mtu asinipatie coin yoyote. Ntapeleka wapi? Kama unaona ni coin ndio unaeza nipatia, kaa na pesa yako. Itanibolea mfuko. Mchungaji hawezi ongea kwa muda huu wote kisha umpe coin. Kwa hivyo yeyote atakaye taka kumbariki mhubiri anaweza leta chochote alichonacho. Lakini sio coin” Quick and brief translation, the guy would not accept any cash if it was a coin. It would ruin his pockets.

Let’s take a breather… Ok, now what the hell? Who does that? He is a preacher. I don’t think having a say on what people give you as an appreciation for sharing the gospel comes with the calling. That was just so wrong. Maybe am judging, but that was just wrong. No one gave him any money. No one.

I know I always complain a lot when I travel. It is not fair to those who have to keep listening to my whining self. It’s about time that ended. Like I said at the beginning, I am expecting a driver, with a car. The qualifications are simple. Be a good driver. Just that. My vacation time is just around the corner, and to be quite honest, if I don’t have a driver by then, you will all have to deal with my rants. That is not a pretty thing.

**********************

Two weeks ago, I posted a story on my life as a preacher’s kid; school life. I ended the piece with a promise to work on the social life of a preacher’s kid. I will post that soon. However, I wanted to start an online awareness campaign on the lives of preachers kids as an attempt to bring about understanding and at least limit the level with which stereotyping is paramount.  To all our readers, it is my request to you all to share this message with any PK you may know. We will be posting the stories on our Facebook page(PepperLife) using the #LifeAsAPreachersKid. The stories can be shared anonymously just in case someone is not comfortable with their identity going public. Share the stories with us through our email or via our Facebook page inbox. You can also directly send the stories via WhatsApp.

Paula – paula@thispepperlife.com 0701-250155

Lewis – lewis@thispepperlife.com 0718-647507

Facebook page link – https://www.facebook.com/ThisPepperLife/