By The Way: The curse of carrying “big notes”
Posted Sunday, October 27 2013 at 00:00
You wave down the boda boda speeding past you. Then, you ask to use the services the cyclist offers to make his daily bread. He initially speeds past you as though in a hurry to go get stuck in traffic jam somewhere. He pauses and seems to rethink.
Being stuck in traffic is not very attractive after all. He does the moonwalk to guide his motorbike backwards to where you are standing. You use the boda boda rule to get the correct price to where you are going. But you are going to deduct at least Shs1,000 from whatever price he offers to take you for.
In an effort to be transparent (or naïvety that will not just go away), you state that you have a ‘big note’. The cyclist leaves faster than one being pursued by the police for not having a crash helmet on. A “big note”, for you that has come back for holidays from abroad or away from Uganda, is any denomination ranging from Shs10,000 to Shs50,000.
You plan to be at a market next weekend - there is no mobile application that brings food from the market to your home yet you have got to go and do the rewarding work yourself.
With your expert eye for fruits, you choose the ones you would like to ‘accompany’ you home. There they are, speaking to you. You agree to free them; first course of action is paying for them-freeing them any other way is generally frowned upon everywhere. You hand Nalongo the money for the fruits. She looks at your outstretched hand like you are handing her used tissue. “Are you out of your mind? What do you expect me to do with that money?” her body language will shout.
“Ummmm, take it, find change and hand me my newfound fruit friends” your mind will mumble. You are not be able to find your voice to let her in on your thoughts. You instead find things to do with your hands as she sizes you up. Your heady conversation ends with you walking off, leaving your fruit friends to ripen under her care.
You were in a taxi yesterday. Someone handed the taxi conductor money. The conductor initially slammed the taxi door shut with such vengeance, the rusty frame shook violently. Unsatisfied, he then called several gods to do all forms of injustice to the big-note-handing passenger.
Where is the wisdom in turning down money?
Does going hungry and pale compare to the inconvenience of finding change?