My wallet is empty; I’ll buy you that extra bottle another day
You enter this roadside “grocery”, head to the counter and order yourself a drink. Next to where you’ve have placed your small Serengeti, there’s a Kilimanjaro lager of the half-litre variety whose owner soon appears. The owner of the Kili is a lady attendant here—call her Clara. She greets you cheerfully.
Her charm towards you would make someone conclude you and her are old friends, but the fact is, you’ve her known for just a couple of weeks now, for she’s a new recruit. It’s not very surprising, though, because, a person working in the hospitality industry doesn’t have to be familiar with a customer to be charming towards them, au siyo?
“You’ve disappeared for quite long; where have you been all these days?” Clara asks you.
“I am around… maybe I turn up here when you’re off duty,” you say.
“That can’t be true; I haven’t been off duty since the day you were here… don’t lie to me, my dear,” she says. You’re shocked by the “my dear bit”… mpenzi wangu. Why, there’s nothing amicable that has developed between the two of you. However, you tell yourself, being called mpenzi by pretty young woman has never killed any man, even if he’s of the zilipendwa generation like Wa Muyanza.
You concede to her that she’s right; you haven’t been to this grocery for sometime because you were tied up and didn’t find time to come to this good grocery of hers. You’re gentleman of sort and so you need not tell her the truth, which is that this is not exactly one of your favourite groceries and that you only visit it on the hope that you might bump into something interesting that can go into this crap you call “my Saturday column”.
“You sound like you’ve missed me, eh?” you ask her.
“Oh, yes, my dear, I’ve really missed you… and today I said to myself I must rush to greet you because last time you were here you said I ignored you.”
“Did I? I can’t remember it.”
“Yes, you did; I was busy with other customers and took time to greet you and when I found time to say hi, you sort of reprimanded me for ignoring you.”
“It’s okay, Clara, thank you for recognising my presence quickly today… I appreciate that.”
Not long after this conversation, Clara, upon returning from attending to one of the few patrons (business is clearly bad here) she polishes off the contents of her glass, refills it with what remained of her bottle and says: “Can I have another?”
“Mmh…why don’t you finish that beer in your glass first, then I might consider buying you another bottle?” you say.
“Okay, let me finish it,” she says and proceeds to gulp her drink so fast you’d think she’s in a competition. Amazing, you say to yourself!
The girl looks at you, expecting you to say something. You don’t, for you’re still flabbergasted by her act.
“So,” she says, can I have your offer now?” she asks.
“Sure, have it,” you say and, without wasting time, she tells the akaunta to do the necessary.
She’s soon enjoying her drink from you and getting friendlier. She even goes to the extent of giving you what you consider unnecessary information, namely, that tomorrow she’ll be off duty. You don’t react to this information other than saying, “Okay”.
She finishes her bottle in record time and, as she pours the last drops of her Kilimanjaro lager bottle into her glass, she looks at you straight in the eye and says, “Can I have another, please?”
You look at your little Serengeti, which you had ordered around the time she ordered her big Kilimanjaro. You’re just half way through yours. You can afford her another bottle alright, but her speed is disturbing. You see lack of courtesy in her, you see greed. However, being the gentleman that you consider yourself to be, you don’t express your disappointment. Instead, you politely tell her you don’t have the money.
“It’s not possible… you cannot fail to buy me just one extra bottle,” she says.
“Oh, yeah; it’s possible… my wallet is empty; I’ll buy you that extra bottle another day,” you say and pick up the day’s newspaper you had placed on the counter and resume reading, something you had suspended in order to be sociable with her.