On a random Saturday while looking for a gift for a near and dear friend of mine I was amazed at the level of laxity with which Ugandans do business in this country. I respect business people and defend anyone who wants to go that route and not take on the 8am-5pm job. But this shopping spree was very unusual as you will see below;
Me: “Hello I would like to buy a cute blouse for someone a size bigger than me.”
Female Attendant: Okay, the person is not here.”
Me: “No, but I know their size and I will try on whatever catches my eye and is a bit big for me.”
Female Attendant: “Okay!”
At this point I assumed that this attendant would come over to assist me or point me in the right direction, but I received a rude awakening.
Female Attendant: “There, let me come.”
Me: “Alright!” I wondered what – there meant as I browsed around for anything interesting but to be honest with you as soon as those words escaped her lips and she walked out my perception of that store changed and it was not long before I walked out.”
Me: “Hello!” (As I peered through the window from the road side into the open store from which a colorful blouse caught my eye)
However, after a minute of calling and waiting outside I was sure that the owner did not hear me so I went inside to get some assistance so that I could get the piece from the window display. Much to my surprise when I went up the stairs and into the store I did not catch sight of anyone in the store so as I prepared to turn around and walk away I heard a sigh coming from right below me as a figure rolled over. The store attendant was a few inches in front of me lying on the ground, out like a light – in a deep sleep, I could not believe my eyes. I stayed there for a few more minutes and then walked out but could not help but wonder how many pieces I could have picked and walked away with while she had her mid afternoon siesta.
Me: “Hello, do you have any tops in a size bigger than mine.”
Male Attendant: “Ahhh!” He slowly stood up as he looked around as if to browse through his stock that he should already be fully appraised with but no word escaped his lips.
Me: “Never mind, let me browse through and see if I find anything I like.”
Male Attendant: “Okay!” (He said this as he slowly sat down almost in relief)
I walked to the back of the store browsing through everything and when I got to the extreme back I realized I needed clarification on some pricing. So when I found a young lady in her mid-twenties comfortably sleeping on a heap of jackets and coats I assumed she would be the best person to ask as opposed to walking back to the front.
Me: “Hello I almost did not see you there.” (She shot up from her sleeping position and sat up to face me.) “Do you know how much these 2 items cost?”
Female: “No I do not, I do not work here.”
Me: “Oh sorry to disturb you then, my apologies for t hat mistake.”
Female: “….” (There was no response from her but she eyed me in a contemptuous manner from then on until I left the store)
After a couple of minutes as I was heading to the counter with my 2 interesting finds that I needed pricing for, a middle aged lady entered the store and cut right in front of me.
Middle aged lady: “Hi, how are you?”
Male Attendant: “I am fine; it has been a while since you were in the store.”
Middle aged lady: “Yes, yes I have not had much time. I was wondering do you have leotards?”
Male Attendant: “Ahh….” (There was silence)
Never in my life have I ever see a man so flushed and unsettled as he looked around his store back and forth with no response for close to a minute. I could not help but grin a little as I noticed this fellah had no idea what this woman was asking for. So after letting him squirm for a bit, I faced the lady at the counter and responded.
Me: “Try that middle section with the spaghetti tops.” (She walked away from both of us with no appreciation whatsoever.)
Male Attendant: “Thanks, I had no idea what that was. What is that exactly?” (He whispered to me as he leaned forward so as not for her to hear him.)
Me: “It is pretty hard to explain I simply have to find one to show you.” I walked to the aisle and pulled out one to show him.”
Male Attendant: “Ohhh, why do they have to use such hard names?”
Me: “That is what they are called.” (I responded with a smile but wondered what type of owner would put such a clueless lad in a clothing store that carried women’s clothing)
That day it seemed that there was no business owner who was out to make money and that is why our brothers from Kenya are going to make a killing when all aspects of the East African Community are fully operational. Ugandans wake up!