One is more likely to believe I have been a “guard” now than they would five years from now. Like any story from anyone who had an interesting past.
This happened a few years back…
It was just an ordinary Sunday Morning and we were calmly telling stories among ourselves at our post. We were monitoring the CCTV feed from the dozen cameras placed within an estate somewhere in Embakasi, East of Nairobi that we had been assigned to that month. Our company does this on a rotary basis to avoid cases of inside jobs. It was cold and not much was being said. By 3am most of the stories had already been told. I had this tendency of doing the first shift so that I could continue with the rest of the shifts with buddies instead of sleeping. I am a nocturnal remember. My cud was busy chewing on the fresh Khat that I had procured before the start of the day. I had a long day and I couldn’t wait for the night for me to start chewing on it. My pet coke was 3/4 full since I was more into sipping water than the highly carbonated drink. I was on my third bag of peanuts also. There was also black coffee kept warm at the cistern at a corner of the room & mahamri that a resident had sent her children to deliver. (I was made to understand she does that every weekend, just out of goodwill) My friend was also at his load, he was the kind that loved to fill the cheek to full capacity, I preferred a small lump the size of three Trident bars/sticks). Women were the most common topic and we happened to be discussing women at that moment when a charter van from a renowned company approached the gate. We viewed it as it slowed down from the first Camera at the extreme end of the fence of the estate. The first camera hidden of course was about 300 meters from the gate but it had a great view of this side of the entrance. It’s occupants were a few ladies two men and the driver. After a few minutes it came to view on the two screens at the top middle section of the sectored screen. The first camera had the number plate in full view and the automatic screenshot beep was heard as it captured the number plate. The other camera zoomed in to the driver and front passengers.
I tapped my colleague – Chome, so we could go check out the vehicle. Since I was not on shift, they left with his shift mate Zack. I just walked briskly to the gate and took a walk round the Van, which had an airline’s name on a board between the dashboard and the windscreen. Zack greeted them but only the driver responded. He asked them what they needed and they said they were there to drop a friend. They had just landed from a long flight. Of course, it was 3.am. Not on the dot really, past 3am I mean…
Zack took them through the procedures and requested them to give their IDs so that he could book them in as protocol dictated. Weee!!!! That is when all hell broke loose.
“Kwani nyinyi ni nani mnatuitisha IDs hapa!?”
“Hatuwezi wacha ID!!!”
“Hatujawai wacha! Tuwachie tu lakini, tudrop tu huyu beshte yetu halafu twende zetu, tumechoka.”
“Tafadhali wacha tufuate sheria, ambayo inasema, vitambulisho ziachwe ama job card” Zack retorted
I was still doing my walk round the car but in the silent night, I was within clear range of all the voices in and out of the van. A small argument ensued but my friend maintained calm. The cabin crew, who were now angry were full throttle on confused English accents and voices of different pitch and we were lucky enough our colleague was as fluent as they were & with the calm voice as in the begining.
At some point someone muttered:
“Security tu! na mna ringa hapa ni kama hatujawai ona watchie wengine…”
“Hizi uniform tuliona tukachoka!”
I almost choked!!!
“Ni sawa madam haina shida, hata hiyo umevaa ni uniform na tukipatana kwa Ofisi yako ungetaka nikuheshimu pia. Ama?” Zack said.
I was so angry!!! Hurt, also. I was almost spitting my content to come retaliate. But, I decided to keep calm. I realized I had paced around the van over three times when one of the men making weird gestures with one hand and the other clutched on a tablet said:
“Huyu naye shida yake ni nini anazunguka zunguka gari hivi?”
I could not focus… ‘Keep calm Chris, Keep calm” In my mind I was like, You are just stewards, glorified and you have no right to dispose your stress on us whether you were from Dubai or you were just making laps between JKIA and Moi Intl…
“Where is the lady who is being dropped?”
I did not realize asking. My English was good enough I believe. From the back she said “Mimi” I asked if she had the Estate Pass and she said yes. I also asked if she knew the rules of the estate. Rules their parents established and ensured they reminded us in ways inclusive of insults & disrespect at times when incidents within the estate erupted. Most common was clandes accessing their illegitimate men’s houses and fighting with the wife et al.
She nodded to everything. Then I said…
“Kama marafiki zako hawataki kuwacha ID na unajua sheria, Wacha wabaki toka utembee.”
“That should also be a lesson” You shouldn’t go insulting other people by virtue of their careers. We are not guards because we are inferior than you…” I could feel my skin bursting into a thin sweat and tremors through my hands.
She attempted to interrupt “Pole Boss, ni vile tumechoka…”
I hated that term in that context… *Boss* No!!! She didn’t just throw that word on me, under the circumstances, Noooo !!!! People never realize some insults. I know many security guards like being called that and even myself I used to call some that way when off duty and far from my area. It is just not real…
I was not done yet:
“…You never know where we meet in another life. Tafadhali chukua mzigo wako na utembee pole pole hadi kwa nyumba.”
“Driver, wewe geuza gari na mwendelee na safari.”
Chome and Zack agreed with me. Broad smiles of triumph on their faces.
The man at the door opened the door and the young lady of around 22 stepped out. My colleague inspected her pass and compared the details with those on the ID and allowed her in. We wished her a safe walk (‘course it was safe. Very safe. Except for a few random snakes’ loud frogs and a piercing breeze that blew from the open grounds). Clearly, the lady was infuriated. Nevertheless, it was a good thing – or so I thought at the time. She had like a km or so under the dawn cold to think about life, how to treat people better and respectfully.
After observing the van leave, I couldn’t just believe what I had heard… Those were Flight attendants, as confident as they had been in their little show of disrespect, part of a larger career I had been eying, even at that moment while on that night job. I was hurt… I dint realize it until I felt my cheek pain from the load that I had subjected it too… Too much to chew like literally. I was that pissed. Anyway, who cares, I told myself. It is just one of the many dramas we faced, I have been through worst. As long as the following day I availed, myself for my weekly swim then sleep like a log till Monday… Life was good, my dream was still intact and that is all that mattered.
So, as I was saying before beginning this throw back edition of idleness on a keyboard, we don’t know where we will all be in the next five years. But from the look of things, I will be trying to tell my life’s story and nobody will be believing it. Because we are all somehow clouded by different perceptions of the people we are, the people we meet, and the people we all become. Let us just wait… That is in the past. So now a few understand why I am ever cordial to security people…
Meanwhile, I send my shout outs to the occupants of that van, that ‘inspiring’ morning. I may have spiced the tale a tad or left some worse details but you know what went down that morning. For the lady who had to walk through that freezing night, my apologies for having to format your 8 hour international flight experience in such a manner. This ‘measly security guard’ will be seeing you around, hopefully at another gate.