Making a mountain out of a small problem is toxic

What you need to know:

The emperor was beside himself with anger and decided to hang the culprit

A number of important and unimportant things fly out the window in a country inundated with as many challenges as ours is. It becomes difficult to decide which issue to focus on as every issue is urgent and vital. Take for instance the issue of public transport. With the government banning importation of any car that is 10 years old, it has become nearly impossible for average Ugandans to replace their old cars. The most affected being our Matatus who are the bedrock of our public transport.

This means most taxis on the road should be in the scrapyard but they are so worn out that no self-respecting scrap dealer would take them. So, they stay on the road held together by strings and twine but people continue to use them because they have no option.

Because the driver and conductor have no patience for fussy passengers, woe unto you should you dare comment on the exposed metals on your seat or the bloody stains. They are rude, crude and ready to snap at whoever looks like they are getting in their way of making that extra Shs500 from a taxi on its last legs.

And so it was that one of these clanging jalopies bumped into someone’s Tesla. I did not even know there were Teslas on our roads. I could not wrap my mind around a universe where our clanging jalopy coexisted with this shiny, exotic looking car. Within seconds of the collision, the driver and his minders swept out of their car and descended on us like a swarm of bees. They looked ready to tear the driver from limb to limb. The fracas increased the already bad traffic. The situation escalated so fast that we were worried for our safety. We looked around for a police officer to help us but for some reason, there was none.

And in Ugandan style, a council of wise men quickly formed around both cars and started sharing opinions on how the conflict should be resolved. The bigger section felt that since the bump was minor, Mr Tesla should cut our driver some slack and ignore it. This incensed the driver who assured us that he was not ready to spend the hefty sum required to repair what in our ignorance looked like a small bump.

Unfairness of it all

He informed us that since no garage in Kampala was capable of doing the repair, he would have to airlift the car to Nairobi, a cost that would come close to Shs25m. Our driver cried out in alarm when he heard the sums being discussed.  Everyone could see that the Tesla driver was really backing up the wrong tree.

It did not require forensic accounting to see that the driver could not raise that amount of money even if he was fortunate to get a scrap dealer stupid enough to buy his car.

But the Tesla driver was determined to have his pound of flesh. As the impasse seemed destined to last, we started jumping off the ill-fated taxi, each of us devising means to get back to our homes. I kept thinking of the unfairness of it all. Clearly, the Tesla driver would have to impound the taxi and probably sell it as scrap, which would raise about Shs3m, promptly cutting of the taxi driver and his conductor’s livelihood.

This would mean that they would not be able to feed their families, pay rent, children would drop out of school and join the masses of unemployed young people in the country. All this just to satisfy one lousy Tesla owner? This incident reminded me of the story of the emperor and his gold vases.

This one emperor had an obsession for vases and collected a vast amount of them from all over the region. Every morning, his servants got them out to shine them so he would enjoy them in all their splendour.

One morning during the exercise, a servant dropped one and it shattered to pieces. The emperor was beside himself with anger and decided to hang the culprit so as to teach others a lesson. A sage learnt of the situation as the prisoner was awaiting his execution, and paid the emperor a visit. The sage congratulated the emperor on his great vase collection and asked to see them.

When they were brought, the sage smashed all of them to pieces. Shocked, the emperor asked the sage why he had done such a horrible thing. The sage answered that he had heard about the punishment he had put for anyone that broke a vase and he had decided to sacrifice himself instead of the many lives that would have to be taken for each vase.

Where are such sages in our country when you need them?

Takeaway. Instead of wasting the present hoping to start living later, I advise that you look for what is working out right now and simply embrace the joy of living. As long as you have life, there is hope for a better tomorrow.

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