Potholes on the road to greener pastures
By Mark Mutahi
Grass is always greener on the other side and anyone who thinks otherwise is colour blind. That was my firm conviction until my new boss Bosco gave me the keys to the taxi I would be operating.
It was a total junk and you would think it was being used as an exhibit in a lawsuit against the state for failure to provide water. In fact, I never thought a day would come when I would find anything dirtier than my house.
My optimism was further eroded when I drove into a petrol station. The last time at the pump while still working for my old boss Mghendi, petrol prices were still on the south side of Sh100.
Now their price displays almost make you think you are at the Railway terminus in Nairobi trying to board a matatu for route numbers 125 and 126.
But every cloud has a silver lining and the high petrol prices have become the basis for my icebreaker with my customers.
"Petrol is so expensive these days," I always start. "The other day armed robbers carjacked my neighbour, but they only emptied the petrol tank and abandoned the car!" Sometimes it works but most of the time it scares the customer and they decide to walk rather than board my taxi and get carjacked for petrol.
But the high petrol prices have also got me thinking outside the box. Since at the end of the day I have to meet certain targets and then pocket the balance, I need to cut down on costs considerably if I am to make a decent living. If I could have my way, there are a lot of things I would do different.
For one I would classify basic vehicle accessories as radio or air conditioning as luxuries and only offer them at a premium price on demand.
Car theft syndicate
Also, since the heavier the load the more the fuel consumed, I would start weighing people before they board and then charge them based on their weight. Look at it as yet another incentive to lose weight, on top of the current high food prices.
Problem is most of these cannot be implemented right away. Perhaps the only thing left is discover more of the shortest routes to various destinations.
The few I know I have learnt while running away from people I owe money and they are simply not enough.
Additionally, the greener pastures has turned out to be not so green with regards to my boss. Simply put, Bosco mistrusts me more than he shouts at me.
He probably thinks I belong to a car theft syndicate and that it’s just a matter of time before I drive across the border and sell his hard-earned Japanese job to my accomplices there.
That’s why he calls every other thirty minutes just to make sure I’m still in the country and his Probox is safe.
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