I’ve wanted a sofa-bed for the longest time. But the one at Tuskys costs 17K, and the one at Nakumatt is 44K. A few months ago, I figured I should just get an extra long couch, then someone could sleep on it at night. A certain fundi had done some good work for me earlier, and had promised to make me a sofa for 4K (in all fairness, that was three years ago). So I went looking for him. Sadly, according to his neighbours, he moved his workshop to shags. Aw crud.
There are about 69 fundis in me neighbourhood, so I started wandering around aimlessly, hoping and praying (yes, I was actually praying) to find the right one. After maybe half an hour, I found one fundi who was willing to make one for 5K. I told him it needed to be solid enough to sleep on, and he suggested creating a reversible back rest so I could unfold it and sleep on it at night. Eureka!
He would charge me an additional 3K for high density cushions, and 1,500 for three sina-shida stools (my kitchen counter doubles as a dining table, and it’s unusually high). When I placed the order, I paid a deposit of 5K, and he promised me they’d be ready in a week. I told him I was going on a business trip, so I’d pick them up in two. Sawa.
On the appointed Tuesday, I called him to check if my stuff was ready. He said the weather had been bad, so the wood hadn’t dried, and could not be used for construction. Okay. When will the wood be dry? Next Tuesday. I said I’d come on Saturday, which gave him four extra days to get my stuff done. Haya.
That Friday, I called him, and he claimed my stuff still wasn’t ready. He said he’d deliver to my house the following Wednesday. So Wednesday morning I give him a call, and wouldn’t you know it, he’s mteja. I called him three hours later, and he wouldn’t pick up. I gave it another three hours and called again. This time he said the person in charge of cushions had gone AWOL, but that he’d deliver the next day.
Thursday and Friday had me calling him every few hours, and when he finally picked up, he claimed his phone was on the charger, then asked me to pass by on Saturday to see the progress of the seat. This is now week four since the order was made. My princess and I walked into the workshop and found the furniture still in separate pieces. He said he’d be done in a day, and that he needed sunshine to apply the varnish. He said as soon as I noticed any sunshine anywhere, I should call him and he’d deliver.
Sunday afternoon was pretty bright, so I called as instructed. I could hear La Muher Di Whatwhat playing in the background, so I rolled my eyes as he explained the sun was out, but it had come out late, and that he had already closed for the day. Tentative delivery date, Tuesday. Sawa.
On Tuesday, his phone was off. On Wednesday, he ignored a few calls before finally responding to say his varnish guy had disappeared, but he would deliver on Thursday. On Thursday night, after three ignored calls in a row, he finally picked up with a story about how the cushion guy at Kikomba had run off with his money. I listened, and in an uncharacteristic show of maturity, I calmly told him I didn’t like madharau, and that I wouldn’t keep calling him and chasing him around like a toddler. The day he felt ready to deliver my chair, he should call me and tell me.
He started to raise his voice at me, but I was so mad I was in some kind of stone cold mode. So I simply dropped my voice a few more levels, and very quietly said I wasn’t going to argue with him, and he should let me know when he was ready to deliver. I love my cold quiet voice. It’s quite effective, and to be honest, it even scares me!
Friday morning, I got this brilliant idea. Since he claimed only the cushions weren’t done, I could pick up the chair and stools and just do the cushions myself. That way I wouldn’t have to pay the balance or deal with the annoying fundi anymore. I called him to share the good news, and of course he ignored my call. I decided I would call him non-stop until he answered. Eventually he responded to my call and accepted my request.
Saturday was Sports Day, so I planned to pass by the fundi’s workshop at 4.00 p.m. At 2.00 he calls and asks, ‘Uko wapi?’ Why do people ask that? No good morning, no what’s up, just, ‘Uko wapi?’ And how is a random fundi barking orders at me? The hell?!? If I wasn’t surrounded by parents and kids, I don’t know what I would have said. As is, I went into Killer Calm Mode and told him I’d pass by at 4.00.
I called one of those ‘Ask for transport’ people who apparently didn’t think I was the type to understand his mother-tongue, an assumption shared by my fundi. We got to the workshop where the fundi was MIA. Of course. Luckily my ire was kept in check because my fully ready sofa-bed was right there on the road waiting for me. Surprise surprise.
His workshop people went to call him from some corner as I inspected the furniture. When he came, he was all hackles out as I pointed at a dangerously hanging nail. He hammered it in. I showed him a tear on one of the cushions. He picked up the cushion and turned it over to hide the tear. At that point I was so irritated I just wanted to pay him and leave, so the laugh that escaped me must have sounded pretty scary.
He decides casually throw in a, ‘By the way, I sold one of your high stools, just deduct it from what you owe me.’ I couldn’t decide if I wanted to punch him or cry. So as calmly as I could, I asked him why he would sell furniture that I had ordered and paid for, after making me wait six weeks. Apparently, calm is relative, because I was yelling, and my baby was crying.
The man ignored me and asked for his money, claiming I needed to add 500/= because I was conning him. I asked how I was conning him yet he had issued the receipt himself. He said I did the math wrong and made him write it down. I then – calmly – went through the maths again, at which point he said, ‘Fine, pay what you’re paying. Do you need people to carry your furniture?’ Aargh.
I was literally shaking, so I just stormed off, loaded my stuff into the pick-up and left. Of course I got home to find my disgruntled house-help – who is currently serving out her notice – had flooded my house. Story for another day. Right now I’m in two minds. I’m relieved that I have my (partial) furniture and no longer have to deal with him, but I’m pissed of that I’ve paid for sub-standard merchandise, and furious that there’s no way of stopping him from doing the same thing to someone else.
I don’t know exactly what I believe about God. But in situations like this, I need to believe there’s some Supreme Being up there somewhere that will send the worst form of karma in return for such doucherry.
♫ Until it breaks ♫ Linkin Park ♫