Let me start by saying that I am a very faithful North Rift user. Isn’t everyone? By everyone, I mean those who are lucky or unlucky enough, depending on your experience, to be in their areas of service. For a girl who loves Eldoret but has to make and do something with her life in the City, I am a frequent visitor of their offices. A couple of times a year, lest you think I make an appearance weekly. Their staff have been nothing short of nice, cooperative and respectful. Well, I know I can say that about the drivers. And that is why North Rift has always been my go-to when traveling. I may as well mention that despite my love for them, I always keep my options open. If the cars are booked and the place is packed, hello Great Rift:)
Anyway, it is a Saturday morning. Sun is out, looking beautiful. The morning air is still very fresh and the birds are going about their businesses. I look at the hills and the green fields for the last time because I know that is a sight I cannot afford to enjoy every morning in the city. I get on a motorbike and give directions to Total Petrol Station, because that is where North Rift Offices are. Motorbike because it is more convenient considering I had luggage and 2-hour traffic jams are not things Eldoret experiences. Otherwise, I would look purely awkward.
It is 7:00 a.m.
We get to the offices. The cars are more than the travellers are. Sorry, next time Great Rift. I head over to the paying desk and I find a lady there. No, she does not have angrily drawn eyebrows like Trevor Noah says, but she was definitely having a bad morning. I smile at her anyway and speak warmly, because Dale Carnegie suggests we do. I pick my seat number and hand her a thousand shilling note.
Her: Uko na 200 nikupee 500? (Do you have a 200 shilling note so that I may give you a 500 shilling note?)
Me: No, sina.
Her: Sawa, acha nikuandikie balance utapewa baadaye. (Ok, let me write down your balance, the driver will hand it to you later)
She scribbles at the top-right corner of my receipt, but I am not even looking because she had gum in her mouth but there was the evident lack of chewing etiquette. I stood there appalled; she was smacking her gum so loudly it was beginning to arouse the desire in me to smack her. It was a relief when she handed me the receipt, which I quickly stashed at the side pocket of my bag and hurriedly walked away.
Moments later, as the driver was going round handing out balances, I realize she had written 100 shillings instead of 300 shillings. I notified the driver on this, and as any person would do, he went to confirm with the lady at the paying desk. He came back and said she claims she already gave me 200 shillings. She clearly had not. Instead of involving the driver in our ‘little misunderstanding’, I alighted the vehicle to go and talk to her myself. In my head, I was sure she would remember that she had not handed me any money the moment she sees me. Apparently, that is not how it happened.
I approach the desk smiling, but she does not move a muscle, aside from those she was using to violate the chewing gum laws. Before I even complete my sentence, she rudely tells me I am trying to get them to give me my balance twice. I looked at her with mouth wide open and eyes of disbelief as those of someone who’d been accused of lying. Only that I had actually been accused of lying. I try explaining to her she had not but she went on and on about how she had an old note that she handed me. I stood there in incredulity and because I was beginning to get agitated at the manner in which she was talking to me and not because she had just stripped me of 200 shillings, I wanted to go and talk to the manager. At the mention of this, she rudely gives me a 200 shilling note and talks of how I will lose more money in the future.
Trust me, it does not feel nice at all to be accused of being a thief and a liar at the same time.
An hour into the journey, I cannot stop thinking about my ‘harassment’, so I pull out my receipt and plant my finger on the number besides customer care and send a text message to it. I do this because if it happened to me, it could happen to anyone else and I felt like Management needed to be aware of it. I structured my message in the kindest way possible and with very good English, my punctuation and grammar were properly checked such that when I hit the Send button, it felt like submitting my best ever written composition to my English teacher.
Clearly this was not received warmly. Within minutes, I already had a reply. A reply that was very rude and on top of that was, written in very bad English. Very bad, I actually began questioning their hiring process. The x’s and weird short forms were flying all over. I could actually visualize the lady punching angrily at the buttons of her phone replying to my text, because I am sure it was her. What happened to good English being an important requirement for Customer Care Agents?
At this point, I had had it. It was time I upped my game. I replied to the text, but this time I was tough, but not rude. Rude is not how you play this. I let them know I was forwarding the accusation to the head office in Nairobi. Funny thing is, even as I typed this, I did not even know who I would approach at the Head office, I was also 90% sure they would not really bother listening to me but I still typed and hit Send. After doing so, I felt ridiculously silly. One, I was engaging in a text argument over 200 shillings. Two, it was just a little misunderstanding and a little amount I should have just let it go; besides she was having a bad day. Why do such reasonable thoughts haunt you after you have done something you consider unreasonable?
After having an internal battle of: You did the right thing, that was poor service and Management needs to be told Vs It was a small misunderstanding you should have let it go, I decide to read Sherlock Holmes to distract myself. This then led me to sleep after an hour. I woke up later having calmed down. I was no longer thinking about how I would go digging and find the E-mail address of the Head Manager and mail him/her about the poor treatment I got. I had completely forgotten about it. I think I was in level one of ‘accept and move on’
I am sleeping when someone taps my shoulder,
Him: Si wewe ndio seat number 10? Shika hii simu.
I look at him wondering what is going on. He keeps beckoning and telling me the phone call is mine, which was crazy because I did not know the guy. But because he mentioned seat number 10, it clicked that it must be from North Rift. Great. Now I have pissed off the entire North Rift clan with my text. I said my hello expecting a rude reply from the other end, but a guy introduces himself as the Eldoret Manager and gives a very long and sincere apology and asks me to narrate the whole incident, which I did. He continues with his apologies and asks me to call him when we arrive in Nairobi through the office number.
When we got to Nairobi, I was too tired to keep up with the drama. I never called back and neither did I act out my ‘Head Office’ threat.
I am sure for the next coming weeks they will be in their best behavior. Well, I hope.