Why can’t you wait your turn?

[vc_row type=”vc_default” margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”5″][vc_column][vc_column_text]Soon after I arrived in Mtwara I went to buy bread. I waited patiently for the man in front of me to finish his business, and then I stepped forward to make my order. Just then a man came beside me and ask the clerk if he had two-liter bottles of soda. The clerk said yes. The man replied “I want one” and he handed the clerk his money. I was annoyed. Cutting ahead in lines is a very common practice in Tanzania, whether in a bank, buying a bus ticket, or in a shop. In a moment of personal drama, I took the shilling notes from the encroaching customer’s extended hand and asked him why it was so difficult for him to wait until I was served, as I was there first.   He said he was sorry, but the clerk still continued the transaction. So I asked the clerk why he would not serve me first as I was there first. I think he said “samahani” (I’m sorry). He seemed indifferent (but perhaps he was just perplexed).   After purchasing a few things – having forgotten half of what I wanted to buy due to my internal tantrum, I spoke to the manager, a woman of Indian decent I’ve seen for many years in the shop. I shared with her that she should teach her clerk to serve the customers on a first-come-first-serve basis. She said she was sorry in a very “whatever” manner – per my Anglo perception.

As I walked home mulling over this all too common transaction, it struck me that the manager might have instead said to me “Excuse me mzee (Mr.), but why do you impose your customer service model on us!?”   Hmm? What could I say to that? Indeed, it was a tradition I liked, and was superior in my eyes. But was the local system superior in her’s?

This, in turn, made me think – perhaps this is a struggle we all must deal with in a multicultural society when we deem “our” ways superior to others.


Thank you – Asante Sana – Ashe Oleng

Douglas – Kupikita – Oloikurrkurr


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