Friday, September 12, 2014

Otieno, the Master Welder

When Mwalimu got his first job, he was living in his ancestral home at the outskirts of the city. You can imagine his shags is just a few minutes from the City. However, where he comes from there are some lazy young men who partake illicit brew and more than willing to harvest where they never planted. It is on this premise that he was invited by his old friend to live with him somewhere in Eastlands. And so he left with a bag of clothes and a big radio to the City in the sun.

While going to his abode in one of those estates with lots of traffic, he could not help but gaze at the amazing works of one particular welder (Otieno). Those Nigerian gates and well-designed windows and doors were a site to behold, amazing work of craftsmanship. In short, Otieno’s artistic work would speak for itself; after all, the compelling products on display were quite appealing to the eye.

Mwalimu eventually got blessed and bought a plot off Thika road before the road was upgraded to a superhighway. He never minded the jam; after all he was used to it. Nothing is as sweet as living in one’s house even if the so called house is a one roomed mabati shelter. You see that landlord I had in Eastlands was just like any other. Every now and then he’d drop that note saying: Due to the current economic situation, we have adjusted upwards our rent…blab la bla…and when I left his house he declined to refund my deposit. In fact he was claiming some cash from me after balancing my account. Funny guy. And he used to come all the way from Muran’ga and camp in Nairobi for two weeks to collect rent. Anyway, let’s leave this landlord alone.

Back to Otieno. When I was doing my residential house, I knew I’d definitely approach Otieno to make my windows and external doors. When I landed at his workshop, it was a beehive of activities and the impression I got is that Otieno was doing quite well. I had a chat with him over a cup of tea (Mwalimu loves tea). The discussion culminated into a quote for the works and I paid the deposit for the works to be done. Otieno went to work and promised to deliver in two weeks. Mwalimu keeps time and he does his best to keep his promises as well. He also expects others to do the same. Two weeks later, I went knocking at Otieno’s door only to be informed that my work is 90% done. I decided to inspect the said works and realized that in all honesty it was 50% done. I felt let down though the fellow promised to deliver in the next 1week. One week later, the work was not complete. The usually quiet and reserved Mwalimu decided to act tough. He really talked tough just to make sure that Otieno does deliver; after all Mwalimu had already given a two months’ notice to his landlord and he expected to finish his house in good time.

To cut the long story short, Otieno delivered the windows and doors to my site 5 weeks later. When the delivery was inspected, it was missing some windows, 1 door and the gate. You can imagine how angry Mwalimu was to the extent to almost slapping Otieno. How was I to move to my new house without doors and windows. How about that perimeter wall and without a gate? That is the day Mwalimu knew that in Jua kali, not all that glitters is gold.

The final delivery was done 15 days before the date I was to move in. And by the way, the gate was still missing. On the eve of my big day (the day when I’d finally kiss the landlord goodbye), I still did not have the gate. I called my good friend and informed him that I was on a small mission to pick a gate along Outering road and requested for his company. When we landed at Otieno’s workshop, I was shown a gate which was halfway done. You can imagine how I felt. Next to my incomplete gate was a very nicely done gate. I actually had assumed that that was my gate. I summoned all courage and informed my friend that we go look for a pick-up and some strong boys. When we came back to the workshop with a pick -up and strong men, Otieno must have sensed danger. We went ahead and loaded the nicely done gate and as we were about to depart, Otieno stood in front of the vehicle and I could see his desperation. You see, that gate I had forcefully picked was for some client from Kitisuru who was to come for it in a few minutes. I could hear none of that and off I went with the gate. That is how Mwalimu got his nice gate. When I look at it, it reminds me of Otieno.

Next post, I will analyse Otieno’s biggest weaknesses. Did his business survive???

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