Last week, something strange happened. For some reason, the morning traffic wasn’t as brutal as it normally is and for the first time in a long time, I managed to get to work in less than 40 minutes. It was akin to receiving a surprise present.
If you don’t live here, you’re probably reading this incredulously, wondering whether this is really worth getting writing about. For those who have to put up with our legendary traffic jams daily, trust me, it is.
Anyway, I was so puzzled by how ‘quickly’ we were making our way into the city centre, I kept looking out of the window frantically, left and right, wondering what was wrong because this was definitely not what I was used to.
I found this turn of events so strange it did not occur to me to be grateful for this wondrous blessing that had come so early in the week. I was too busy trying to decipher what could have gone wrong.
Many possibilities went through my mind – that maybe it was a public holiday I had forgotten about. Or perhaps the particular highway we were using had been blocked off by the police for one reason or another, or there was a riot of some sort up ahead and the motorists in the know were avoiding that route.
Come to think of it, could a dual carriageway have been constructed overnight? Wait a minute! Maybe The Rapture had taken place and I was one of those left behind!
Generally, we should be happy and grateful when good things happen to us, yet here I was, just as anxious as I usually am when stuck in unmoving traffic jam, trying hard to decipher my unexpected good fortune instead of welcoming it with both hands, no questions asked. I guess that we’re too used to having a raw deal, the wrong end of the stick, so much that we are caught off guard when good things happen to us.
I was behaving like a woman who is so used to her husband arriving home in the wee hours of the morning she almost faints with surprise when she finds him seated in the living room at 6pm, and on a Friday, of all days.
“What’s wrong?! Are you okay?” She is likely to gasp in a panic, searching his face for any signs of pain or discomfort, and checking to see whether all his limbs are intact, yet he simply decided to come home early that day.
Or like a relative who has never wanted anything to do with you all these year, and then calls you out of the blue, or ‘worse’, turns up at your doorstep one Saturday afternoon, bearing enough shopping to feed a small village.
You graciously welcome the relative, but at the back of your mind you’re wondering what exactly she wants from you, sure that she’ll drop her ulterior motive before she eventually says goodbye – it does not occur to you, even for one minute, that this could be her way of trying to make up for lost years, of trying to forge a relationship the two of you should have had years ago.
Or like a colleague who normally ignores you coming up to you one day, and with a wide smile plastered on her face, says, “Wow! That’s a beautiful dress you have on – I like the shoes too,” and then walks away.
Instead of revelling in the warm feeling that’s supposed to come over you when you’re complimented, you rack your mind for the next two hours wondering what her unfriendly anti-social self is up to. It’s a discouraging way to live, isn’t it?
The writer is editor, Society & Magazines, Daily Nation. Email: [email protected] ke.nationmedia.com