Bad Idea Redux


Ideally what the Sunday Vision publishes in the magazine every week should be the seventh draft of what I originally wrote, but time has kept getting shorter and shorter, and I have been cheating—that is why you find so many silly grammar errors in my column these days, (thank you so much for reading it, by the way. Thank you every time I see my paycheck).
This last week was the closest I came to a full seven redrafts in months, because I had initially written twice as much as the paper needed. I had to cut it down to 500 words without losing the ire I was trying to express.
Well, I don’t think I succeeded. I lost the ire. But since the internet gives us all a second chance, may I try again?

You must be acquainted with the phenomenon known as Small Man’s Complex, even if it is not by name, because there is a virtual epidemic of it going around. It is probably an unfortunate by-product of the era of peace and development ushered in by Muhwezi and his friends, because now that we have hotels and restaurants and such, we need askaris to guard them. And that is what small man’s complex is. What the askari suffers from SMC is a situation where a person with inadequate amounts of esteem in himself latches on to a little bit of authority and uses it to irrational excess against, well, anyone he can find who he thinks won’t hit back. It is bullying, in short.

A recent example forms the crux of this rant. Presenting: One Evening at The Supermarket.

The offending object:

Since I lost my wallet a while ago and because I lack the discipline to get around to replacing it when there are makeshift alternatives readily available, I have, of late, been carrying my cash, cards and miscellenia around in a book. Yes, a book. I slip banknotes and ATM cards between the pages.


It is an excellent book, yes, thank you for asking. It is called Last Chance To See, by Douglas Adams and Michael Carradine. I bought it second hand at the taxi park.

Which means that it is also an old book. It is dog-eared, frayed, tattered and weatherbeaten and made even more so by the fact that I have been carrying it around as a wallet for over a month.

It was the only object in my hand on the evening I entered a supermarket in the Ntinda Shopping Centre.

The Offence:

As we walked in (I wasn’t going to buy anything, I was just escorting someone) I paused for a second at the baggage check counter.

At most reputable supermarkets, those which respect their customers and therefore opt out of insulting them, I raise the book for the baggage check personnel to see that it is all I have in my hand and they graciously pass me on, either with a friendly smile, or by actually saying, “You don’t need to check that, sir, not unless you want to. You don’t? Well, then enjoy your shopping experience, sir.” And they wave me on.

The Offending Staff:

This baggage check man at this supermarket was not gracious. He called me over to insist that I leave my book with him. Now, still under the misapprehension that I was dealing with a professional, I offered a little joke. I sniggered that if he would not trust me not to shoplift in his store with the aid of my little paperback, I won’t trust him with its contents. I proceeded to remove the cash from the pages of the book, and the cards as well. When I began to extract two CDs from between the pages, he stopped me again. To assert that I have to leave the CDs, too. It was at this point that I realised what was happening. Either of two things:

The first thing: He thought I was anextremely cunning and unscrupulous villain, who is desperate to steal and cannot be trusted to enter a supermarket with open shelves while in possession of two CDs, let alone a whole paperback novel. If he lets me in with them I will certainly find something to hide and pilfer. In short, he was determined to call me a thief.

The other thing: He knew that he had no reason to suspect that I was on a mission to shoplift whatever tiny shelf item they have that can be secreted in the sleeves of a transparent CD case. He was just throwing his weight around. He wanted to assert what little power he had even if it had no consequence at all.

I know the prudent thing is to give such idiots what they want, but like I said, I wasn’t there to shop. The person I was escorting had already disappeared into the store. I had time to argue. So I did.

I was forcefully asking the man what the hell he was smoking when a uniformed girl, thinking she was coming to his rescue, said something about how they couldn’t let me in with a book because they sell books on their shelves.

The Oafs:

You are gasping, aren’t you? And you are not sure if it is with shock, or indignation.

It is so imbecilic because even if you chose not to consider the advanced decrepitude of my book, the store sold mobile phones as well, and they weren’t stopping anyone from walking in with their phone. Not even me. And I had two! Yes, I roll with two phones. Don’t hate, though. One is a katorchi.

By now I was quite peeved, so I turned to look for the customer service desk, only to find that it was right next to the hulabaloo, and the service rep was right there, ignoring the incident of customer dissatisfaction brewing right next to her.

I didn’t expect her to do much, actually. I wasn’t dying to get in to her store with Last Chance To See.  I would be as comfortable waiting outside, but I wanted my nerves soothed. I turned to her, hoping to hear words like, “I’m sorry sir, but there is nothing we can do. It is just store policy. We mean no disrespect by it, I assure you.” At which point I would say, “Well, teach your man how to talk to people. He is obnoxious and rude.” Get the response, “I promise I will have a word with him.” And then I would be mollified and I would continue to enjoy shopping at Quality.

Instead all I got was a glassy-eyed look and a few mumbles.

“Listen, this whole baggage check issue is very delicate. I know you can’t let people walk in with bags. I know you can’t trust your customers and that you have to assume they are all criminals before you can let them in. It is a sensitive matter. But you should at least try to handle it with some finesse, with some class, instead of just letting this oaf insult us to our faces!”

Glassy eye. Mumble.

I wasn’t a customer that day, and you can rest assured I will never be. They have a competitor across the street anyway. Nice people who smile when they bag your groceries.





  1. I bought New Vision on sunday and read it through half of Joyce Meyer’s sermon at Namboole. But that is besides the point.

    Point is, I’m sure a percentage of the 1200 I paid for the paper goes towards paying you, Baz. So how about you use my percentage [plus, of course, doubtless many other percentages] to get yourself a new wallet?

    But then again, if it will give you another excuse to rant, please stick to your Last Chance To See, by Douglas Adams and Michael Carradine.

  2. Baz, I am totally on yo side. Anyone who has been to Quality Supermarket should testify. We should boycott….anyone with me?
    These guys are lack the quality!

  3. It is still an excellent place to buy blouses and kids clothes. And diapers and household items. Trick is not to look them in the eye as you get in. Sport a frown. Specs help. Push open that swinging door brass thing with authority and a touch of irritation. Be in a hurry. The small man with a complex will be so intimidated that he will let you march in without so much as an ‘excuse me sir’.

    It works at banks, office complexes, virtually any place. Those ‘small men’ are actually small and will shrink before any perceived superiority.

  4. Lol Dante…

    Baz, u should have asked if they know who u are?
    Be like these (ex) Big Brother dwanzies who pull the “Do u know who I am?” line whenthey wanna enter an invite only party or club.

  5. @ Vic–that is what they call expert advice.
    But Baz–you are a celeb. What were you waiting for? You should have pulled that magic line—“Do you know me?” Better still–“Do you how much damage I can do to this katale by writing ill of you on my ka-page and blog?”
    It has worked for our “artistes” when they can’t pay entrance fees to colleagues’ launches–it will surely work for you!!

  6. The “Do you know who I am?” does not work. It ridicules the one asking the question. It is a sign of identity crisis.

    @Victoria: The authority one is good….
    @Baz: I say tell the world of their arrogance & inefficiency!

  7. I am suprised that you are suprised. have you no shame Baz? You be name dropping and those guys would let you walk in. How do you think Bazungus get into clubs with bathroom sandals. They drop the colour of their skin. Ask Serugo he calls it face value. You decide to shelve yours so take the chiding

  8. Lol @ dante & channel….I also thought Baz was a celeb.. You should have pulled that stunt and even threatened to write a bad thing about the they wd have to pay you to enter the place and pick anything you’d want on the house.

    But again dude, buy a wallet they are also second hand ones at the park…….. which celeb walks around minus wallet?

  9. Emi’s–Museveni. You think he has a wallet? He has envelopes–which on many times, he leaves with his hosts at functions.

  10. Don, Museveni doesn’t know the exchange rate between the dollar and the shilling. He also doesn’t know what cash feels like. There are people for such things sindiyo? Baz honey, you haven’t reached that status yet.
    And thank God for the fuller version of the story. Otherwise those edited things are just anticlimatic.

  11. All I can say is hahahaha. U should have slapped the fellow. That’s real throwing some wight around but Baz, me thinks u don’t have much weight to throw around.

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