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Of unsolicited advice from the know-it-all kind

By Paul Kariuki | April 4th 2020

Sometimes, circumstances may force us down to that level we were at a certain point in life. I like the Kiswahili dictum that states that he who scales up the literal ladder scales down the same. And, figuratively, we too scale up and down life’s ladder one rung at a time. It is not in contention there are lucky ones who, upon scaling up life’s ladder, remains at the apex until they take that worldly final bow. Not so for a majority in a given population who either climbs up too fast, stagnates midway, before crashing down in a cataclysm of dust or begins that slow but painful down climb.

  It shocks when those who see your sudden humbling down or fall from grace celebrates. To some, it is like witnessing Balaam’s donkey speaking!

  If, for example, you have been used to commuting by public transport, hailing the cab, and being dropped to your doorstep by the same or by a motorbike taxi, and suddenly switches to using the bicycle, you become sort of a spectacle and a butt of all jokes and innuendos.

  Irrespective of your financial status has reduced you to that level, or even in a serious case of a job loss, the current Covid-19 pandemic, you’re not spared the slack.

  When I switched to using the bicycle the other day as my primary mode of commute, I’ve not ceased to receive unsolicited advice from the know-it-all experts, or being subjected to denigrating talks!

  Sample where I may bump with someone and after a bit of chit-chat, that someone, too curious on why I’m riding an ancient bike, would offer to connect me with someone disposing with a motorbike at a ‘reasonable fee’ to ease my movements. This is irrespective if I’m out there biking for recreational purposes.

  The other day, sweating like a pack mule while pedalling hard, I happened to break hard at an old acquaintance who, disbelievingly, couldn’t believe I haven’t discarded ‘that old contraption that passes for a bicycle’ for something more convenient like a car!

  “Huh! Know what buddy, there is this mechanic friend of mine with a Volkswagen beetle, recently reworked on, that he is selling at 80k. A fair price if I help you bargain for it,” he said.

  I’m yet to understand why tempting offers usually comes when one is bone dry broke. I’m still amazed an itinerant trader hawking an assortment of goods offered me a staggering discount on an electronic appliance, by a margin close to 200%, imploring me to the extent of kneeling down I take it. “I have a family and haven’t made a single sale today, please take it at this knockdown price,” he begged.

  It doesn’t help realising even those who you count as friends are usually the ones leading the pack backstabbing you. You’ll hear such remarks like you had a chance to do meaningful investment but blew it, and you’ve none to blame for your status other than yourself!

  Unfortunately, the shoe can be on the other foot and it would not make for an interesting scenario seeing them eating their words.

  While pushing the bike up an incline the other day, I bumped at this fellow from high school days.

  “Are you crazy?” he asked after the usual catching up.

  “Why?” I asked.

  “If I’m you, I would have invested in a mountain bike!” he said.

  Is not it strange how everyone is an expert advising one without first putting themselves in the shoes of one?  

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