Flowerly Maua

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I smile recklessly and I love excessively. I live today knowing I have no other day until tomorrow. Now is my moment. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is a mystery, but today, today is my gift (present).

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

The Bronze Plus Bank Account

Place: KCB (Kenya Commercial Bank)
Branch: Anniversary Towers
Time: 14.25 hr
Year: 2000

I’ve queued up for so long, not sure how long. I’ve been carrying this cash the whole morning, in the mathrees luckily no pickpockets have caught up with me yet. I need to bank this cash now. (I am a trainee mathree tout, learning to run my mathree business. I do my banking everyday at about 3.00 pm, but today, I have an appointment).

But, unlike the banks in UK, bankers go for lunch same time with everyone else. On a serious note, there are only 2 counters in use, and the queue, wacha tu. For the hundredth time, I’m counting how many people are before me. None, I’m next. I’ve got everything ready, I don’t have to waste any time unnecessarily. I’ve wasted enough already.

The customer on counter one has just finished. Yes, Yeeess. I’m next. I walk up to the counter. I’m not sure whether I’m happy that I’ll be served in the next minute, or angry coz I’ve been in this establishment for the last hour and half, or is it 2 hours. I’ve put my card in the hole (what do they call it), and the cashier is just about to pick it, when this hand stretches behind me, and a card falls in front of the cashier. I turn around, and there is this woman, in her late 30s (I’m in my early 30s, I sense trouble, and I’m sizing her. Can I take her?)

“There’s a queue”, I say

“I know”, she says, “but I’m a Goldplus account holder”

I turn to the cashier.

“What’s the name of my account again?”
S**t, who cares, I came in first, and there’s no way she’s being served before me.

“Listen lady, I don’t even know what account I hold, bronze or copper, but I’ve been queuing for the last 90 minutes (90 sounds more than an hour and half), and if you want to be served on this counter, wait until after I’m done, or look for another one.

She’s adamant, looks at the cashier, who at this point has no idea what to do. I have a right as a bronze account holder who has been queuing for the last 90 mins, (no 92 minutes now), and this woman, is paying for all the privileges. But, I’m determined, there’s no way I’ll be late for my appointment coz I’m holding a bronze account, (where is Annan when you need him), I have to go first.

This is my 3rd week in Kenya from UK, and in my wallet (which can hold 8 credit cards, and the spaces are all full) I am the proud owner of the following cards:

• Barclay connect card
• Halifax cash card
• Iceland free delivery card
• Boots points card
• Tesco’s club card,
• expired Barclay Connect card
• expired Barclay Visa card
• University Student ID card

I’m so angry now, and I don’t even realise I’m opening my purse.

“Look lady, I’m the proud owner of all these accounts, (even tesco club card has my account of my shopping habits, so is Boots). I don’t think you need to know how much is in the accounts; likewise, I don’t want to know how much you have in your gold account. We bronze account holders are keeping these banks alive and standing, this is my bank, and I’m not being moved by some gold account”.

By now the cashier knows better than serve this woman before me. To help him make his decisions, I grab the card and throw it back at her without even looking where it'll land. I'm a size 10, but I can tyson a goliath right now.

Before I turn around to look at the cashier, I hear a loud applaud. I’ve not even noticed I’m in some drama, and everyone is listening. The whole bank had been quiet and watching me.

The woman turns around, feeling so embarrassed and she walks away, without being served.

I talk to myself for a good 1 minute, complaining the problems we common wananchis face every day. How can a banking establishment give their staff a lunch break at this time of the day? We might as well open our own banks and not have to queue.

“What do you do for a living”, asks the cashier while serving me.

“I’m a mathree tout.”


Mo Ma said...

Haha! You sure put her in her place, didn't ya?

I'm one of those really non-confrontational people. I can't help it. You should teach me your craft. :P

kenyanobserver said...

That happened to me sometime in the 90s. I was back home, waiting in line at Barclays and then some stinking tourists with dirty clothes and humongous racksacks walked in and cut right in front of me and did not even think anything of it.

I looked at them straight in the face and talked to them at the top of my voice, filled with the anger from all the hours I'd spent washing dishes just just to make this trip.

This was my chance to hit back -


Everyone was shocked. The wazungus slowly moved back in line and were quiet the whole time. They probably had doors opened for them and chairs pulled for them everywhere they went so this must have totally blind-sided them because they did not utter a single word back at me.

Ngare said...

Waaa! Talk about the strength of a woman!
Being the timid guy i am, id probably avoid at all costs a confrontation and just angalia them vibaya, but now...uve inspired me! Both of you, Kenyanobserver and Maua!

Seasons & Reasons said...

Very funny and inspiring but i think you took it out on the wrong person.

The damn bank should have been your target! They sell to us that if you are a Gold Plus account holder, you should never queue and so it is aspirational for all to have such an account. Believe me, you pay through your nose to get this privilege.

If I was the lady, I would have waited for you to rant then ask the Cashier to provide me with my right and believe me the cashier would have served me first

Maua said...

@Mo Ma, generally, I'm a very calm person, but this, I couldn't take.

@Kenyan observer, It's all about principle. Coming soon on mine on my experience with a muzungu in Kenya while on holiday.

@Ngare, your turn is coming, you can only take so much.

@seasons, I agree, she knows that, I don't, and that gives me the strength to fight for my 'rights'. I can just imagine the drama (I've had many in Kenyan Banks)if she had been served b4 me.

Anonymous said...

you go girl !!

temper does it every time dear, tantrums can be helpful way past toddlerhood. [though, heehee, the showing of all your cards was a bit, heehee] ;)

KK said...

Wow! Maua, ati u even own some expired cards? Now that was funny.
How did the training go.... i don't suppose you let the supus get away with not paying... that always irked me.

Maua said...

@cb, Accounts are just money related, hata iceland supermarkets tell when they deliver to me. My cards were specially caried for that occasion - show off.

@kk, After about a year, I became the makanga of the year (Imara Daima and Inda routes). But when I started taking the mathree language home, it was time to quit. No supu got away, I guess the dere hated my presence. But all in all, I loved the experience, and I loved my team.

Maua said...

@kk, the experience humbled me so much, and I believe there's nothing I can not do in life to survive. The guys still talk to me once in a while, (8 yrs on), and I miss them.

Wanjiku Unlimited said...

Kenyan Observer I know those rack sacks. Whatever do they put in them? Sometimes I wonder if they're homeless in distant land and have to move around with all their stuff.

Maua you've prompted me to have a look at the cards in my wallet. Definitely there are some expired ones which need weeding out. I find it sort of cool though to have all these assorted colours cards in there. Smart Cards, Medical Cards, Bank Cards, etc - expired or otherwise. Lol. I need to do some housekeeping in my wallet.

Maua I see yours truly on your blogroll list. I'm so grateful. Revenge is coming. Catch you later.

31337 said...

hhehehe. this made my afternoon!

seasons, that is why if you are paying through your...ahem...for the privilege then ask for a separate banking hall? *hides his prestige cards*

petesma said...

You must always stand up for yourself in these situations. Bravo to you and kenyanobserver for checking the tourists.

I beg to differ with seasons. My bank offers the same privileges ALONG with a special counter and waiting area for the Gold-paying people. That way they don't have to mix scents and cents with the rest of us or offend us by jumping queues.

So if the bank cannot afford to provide meaningful exclusivity they should not offer it at all.

joyunspeakable said...

banks should just offer what they can provide......including queue jumping.


i work for one...not the one you went to though and it has no queues.

Half n Half said...

This was hilarious!
Banks have a monopoly on money keeping, someone needs to come up with a way of keeping our money e.g under a mattress or something! Right now am sooo pissed of with barclays i could sue them, I have been unable to use my card ati couz if am abroad they have to "open" it! kwani who closed it? arrrrgh I hate banks! I swear I will put my money in my shoes!

LOOOL at mathree tout!

Mudamuli Ntikita Ntikita said...

I gave up on banks long ago.

This was really funny.

Prettylyf said...

More power to you! I'm so proud of you sometime gotta put your foot down and not take crapola from those 'golden circle' people. Yay! You go girl...

lol this just made my morning...now off to work :)

You rock, Maua! No...seriously you do :) Yay!

Tandra said...

one word "LOL"

bOMSEH said...

That was ver brave. After queing for 92 minutes, I'd react the same way too.

Kirima said...

I know that Prestige customers are supposed to be served promptly but the bank should have the sense to provide a separate counter for those premium customers and as for that lady she should have waited for you to be served first without shoving her card when you were already at the counter. I would also have cheered.