- Mid-morning a man from the city water company shows up in the compound, threatening to disconnect the water supply to our house – again. I’ve lost track of how many times this has happened in the 13 months that we’ve lived here. I explain to him, as calmly as I can, trying my hardest to contain my anger, the whole history of trouble we’ve had. Unlike all previous times, I manage to convince him not to shut our water off, but it appears that he is doing it only out of the goodness of his heart and after he calls me “friend” and “brother,” rather that giving me any benefit of the doubt or just believing that my explanations about the cause of the problem might be credible. The story behind this is that the water company believes more than 76,000 Kenyan shillings (close to US$1,000) are owed to it by CARE International, which was one of the previous tenants of our house (or the employer of) – and not even our immediate predecessor. The man who came today said he had been sent to shut off the water for CARE, and I kept telling him that CARE has nothing to do with us or our house anymore. He had a major epiphany that the problem must be between our landlord and CARE, to which I replied, “I’ll say!” This is something that we’ve been trying to convince the water company of countless times. But finally today’s man decided that we, the innocent party, do not deserve to be punished, but only after he asked why I couldn’t produce the latest bill and proof that it had been paid (I refused, countering with a question of my own: Why can’t he remove our house from his list?).
- I call the office of Lexi’s pediatrician to make an appointment for next week. I call the land line and am told by the woman to call back on the cell phone for the office. She proceeds to give me two different numbers. I immediately hang up and dial one of the cell phone numbers and am pretty sure the same woman picks up, but I politely tell her what I need and why all over again. In the same number of words she used to tell me to call a different number, couldn’t we have just scheduled the appointment in my first call to the office?
- I also call our Internet service provider to complain about the slow and dropped connections and manage to get through. I had tried to get through to customer support about three weeks ago, but nobody was ever answering, even after trying at least 10 times over two or three days. Finally a woman answers the phone, and when I ask if anybody works there anymore, she says yes and then tries to transfer me – twice – to a support person. Nobody picks up. Fortunately the woman comes back on and takes my number and promises that someone will call me back as soon as they come back to the office. That was at least two hours ago, and so far nobody has called me back.
- Mid-afternoon I wait for the electrician sent by our landlord to come for his 2:00 appointment. This is his second scheduled visit after he failed to fix the water heater the first time he visited last week. It is now after 5:00, and there is no sign of the electrician, not even a phone call to say why he is late or when he might come later. For his appointment last week, I was told he would come on a certain day, but he showed up the following day instead. When I asked him why he was delayed, he said he had come the original day of the appointment but that “it was a bit late,” so apparently he never got as far as our house. And on top of all this, this was the second electrician who has worked on the same water heater. And that first electrician had to make at least two visits!
- The people at the post office still cannot make change. I bring in two pieces of mail, and the total for the postage is 145 Kenyan shillings. I give the man a 200 shilling note, and he punches into his calculator 200 minus 145. I wanted to shout “55!” at him. I’m baffled at this because they always seem to be able to do some math in adding up two or three stamps per piece of mail to get the proper postage.
Is there any wonder that I can’t wait to get out of here?!