Well, I wouldn’t say I was strip-searched exactly … and it wasn’t exactly a mall … but the searching part is true. Let me explain.
All supermarkets have that ‘left-luggage’ section where you’re expected to leave your bag to avoid shoplifting. It’s the bane of women with big bags because – well – the average woman’s life is in her bag. So it’s very hard to explain why she has to surrender her life to some surly guy in a box locker. And all she gets in exchange is a litty bitty plastic. It doesn’t even have credit on it.
Backpacks automatically go in the left-luggage section, because they’re so big. In some supermarkets, like Tuskys Bomb Blast, you leave your backpack on the floor, at the door, with the watchman.
But lately, backpacks carry laptops, so security people let you walk in with them. I didn’t know about this rule until I tried to leave my overstuffed backpack [it had – among other things – five kilos of rice … and this was before I had started shopping] at the luggage shelf at Nakumatt Lifestyle.
The lady asked me repeatedly whether my bag had a laptop in it. I assured her it didn’t, but she still asked me four more times before finally yelling ‘Usijaribu kuacha laptop hapa!’ I wondered what nasty customer experience she’d had to make her so frightened of computers.
Some weeks before, a friend and I walked into Woolmatt for a closing sale. We both had laptops and backpacks. He walked in ahead of me, was stopped, mouthed ‘laptop’ and was let through. I followed a few inches behind and said ‘laptop’ as well, but the watchman wasn’t having it, so I walked back to left-luggage.
Once there, the guy told me his racks were full and asked me to go in with my bag, which I did. Again, the watchman stopped me. He must not have liked my face.
I explained that the luggage rack was full, and he went to the guy to confirm before letting me through.
At Tuskys Commercial, they have these guys in black suits and red ties who just love to stop me at the door and remind me about my backpack, but ‘laptop’ usually waves them away. It must be the new ‘Open Sesame’.
So this morning, when I walked into Nakumatt Bomb Blast [formerly Woolmatt], I was surprised when the guy stopped me. My bag was pretty heavy, possibly ten kilos, and it was stuffed with everything from photocopy paper to yoghurt and mandazi. Don’t ask.
I explained that I have a laptop, and he said ‘Hiyo bag haikai laptop’. Apparently he didn’t think the … er … colour of my bag could hold a computer. He asked me to open my bag and prove there was a laptop inside.
Now, if I had been less shocked, I would probably have taken my time and emptied every item in my bag, just for show. As is, the cashiers, bag boys and attendants all looked worried. They were probably more startled than I was!
Unfortunately for him, I know where everything in my bag is, so I opened the appropriate zip, pushed aside a wad of paper, and showed him my machine.
He nodded and let me through, no apology, and I lugged my bag onto my back, avoiding people’s faces to hide my embarrassment. If I was light, I’d probably be red by then. I still can’t believe he searched me.
They didn’t have what I wanted, but after all that drama, I wasn’t going to leave without a purchase! So I bought two salt shakers. And two Smirnoff Ice. At 9 in the morning. On my way to work.
Moral of the story: Do not argue with a watchman. You will lose. Even if you own the building.
I went into another Nakumatt later – the one at City Hall, and chose to leave my bag outside. He took one look at it and asked ‘laptop?’ When I nodded, he let me through. I explained that I’d been stopped earlier at their other store, and he seemed surprised. ‘Si kila mtu anajua laptop haikatazwi?’ We don’t risk keeping computers here.
So … why did I spend my morning fighting with store attendants over laptops? Well, last Saturday I went to a certain store – I forget which one – and bought green yoghurt.
Yes, green yoghurt.
It’s a new Ooh flavour called Apple and Aloe, and I just loved it! It lacks the sharp tangy taste that some cultures have, it feels like ice cream, and, of course, it’s green.
So this morning I went through all the supermarkets I frequent looking for said yoghurt. None of them had heard of it.
Is there any chance I simply imagined this bottle of creaminess? I can’t have been that high…
♫ Pink elephants on parade ♫ Dumbo Soundtrack ♫