Geoff Tennant - Promoting access to mathematics for all
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20/4/14: really sorry, Julius!

A picture of Julius to appear here shortly.

Just at the moment I'm acting director at work.  In practice this means a great deal more aggravation, things to sign, people knocking on the door, etc., etc., without the good bits - which are what, exactly?  Not entirely sure I know the answer to that question.

Anyway, I went to work on Wednesday - need to see this person, send that email, check that budget, meet somebody over lunch - and also I need to get out to do a couple of personal errands.  But when?

And then, suddenly, inspiration struck.  Julius, a driver who works for one of my colleagues, maybe available for some work, his employer is away at the moment.  So I phoned him, sure enough, available and willing, he came in to work and we met up at about 11am.  Great, thank you Julius, this is what I need you to do.  Change some American dollars into Tanzanian shillings, and go to the doctors' surgery to collect my high blood pressure medication.  Have never understood why such a laidback person as myself needs this, one of those mysteries I have to live with.  Oh and - while you're out and about in my car, can you get it cleaned in and out (out not a problem, not worked out where to go for in) and check tyre pressure, oil levels, this sort of thing.

Yes, that's all fine.  OK, you're a professional driver, how much will you charge?  Oh no, comes the answer, you help me and I help you.  Well, that's jolly kind of you.  But - while I say hello when I see you - maybe 2 or 3 times a week - and occasionally stop to chat, I can't think I've ever helped you in any tangible way (although I know his employer has been very kind to him).  Anyway, let's not worry about this now, we can sort it out when you get back.

Had things gone smoothly I estimate that doing what I'd asked would have taken Julius 2 hours, maybe a little more.  Fairly soon after he left, as we had arranged, he called me from the doctors' surgery to verify identity.  And then, the heavens opened and rain came thundering down.

I've mentioned rain in the rainy season a few times before.  The problem on Wednesday is that it had already rained very heavily on Saturday, so it took relatively little rain for floods to start up again.  Grief, and Julius is out in my car!  An exchange of texts came back with the response that he was stuck in traffic.  And then, the head of administration came to see me to tell me that the sheer weight of flood water had collapsed the wall adjoining a company's site next door and damaged three parked cars, fortunately nobody hurt.  It was 4pm. by this time, so time for some acting direction - colleagues, please feel free to go home, no need to wait for your normal finishing time.

My walk home necessitates crossing United Nations Road, a pretty busy thoroughfare.  UN Road was completely gridlocked, with the usual mayhem as drivers go over to the righthand side of the road to get short term advantage - this may work when things overall are fairlty quiet, but greatly adds to the chaos when things are busy.  But, a very curious thing - I had expected to arrive back with my feet completely drenched through my shoes, but actually, there was only a few more spatters of mud on them.  The water had abated somewhat but the traffic jams continued.

Julius finally got to my flat at 9pm., 10 hours after setting out.  The overwhelming majority of that time he spent stationary in traffic jams.  What makes it worse is that he wasn't able to get the car cleaned or tyres checked - but if he'd come straight back after getting the cash and medicine, he wouldn't have got caught in the rains.  Julius, I'm really sorry for the aggravation I put you through!  I hope the amount I paid you was reasonable compensation for your troubles.

And yet, I'm aware that I'm apologising because I'm assuming that he was getting as frustrated as I would have done in that situation.  Now, I need to be careful here, the only possible answer when asked how somebody else is feeling about something is - I don't know.  But, I have reason to believe that Julius takes a much more philosophical, laidback attitude to life than I do - and, as a professional driver, he can reasonably consider that he is working even as he is waiting endlessly for the traffic in front to move.  Certainly he was very keen to tell me when he did finally get to me that he would be very happy to help again if I need him in future.

So, thank you, Julius, much appreciate your help.  Will certainly call you in future in the same situation.  Hopefully next time a 2 hour job really will only take 2 hours, and not 10.


Na - leo siku kuu ya Pasaka.  Yesu Kristu kafufuka, kafufuka kweli kweli.  Haleluya!

Literal word-for-word translation:
And - today day big of Easter.  Jesus Christ is risen, is risen truly truly.  Halelujah!

A very happy Easter to all my readers, thank you for you continuing support and interest which is greatly appreciated.


2 Comments to 20/4/14: really sorry, Julius!:

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Angelina Bijura on 05 May 2014 03:11
Pole sana na karibu Dar es Salaam! It's so frustrating driving on Dar es Salaam roads when it's raining. The day in question I was driving along the United Nation road around 2 pm, it was chaotic. I once thought I was the only driver with working eyes until one driver stopped abruptly millimetres from my door. I guess Julius was in a similar situation. Towards Surrender bridge the road was full of water, you must have walked towards Muhimbili to have only spatters of mud on your shoes. It has never rained like this (season) in Dar es Salaam, I wonder what is next. By the way, truly truly in Kiswahili is "kweli kweli" Best wishes.
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Geoff on 05 May 2014 09:35
Thank you for this, Angelina. Am I allowed to say that you're the person I met for lunch on that fateful day? Yes, I heard that Selander Bridge was impassable - so all very well sending people home, not sure they could act on the advice! Will correct my Swahili now, meanwhile, thanks for contributing, Geoff

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