Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Amos the Happy Guard

Kenyans drive on the wrong side of the car.  Well, I'm just used to driving on the other side.  Twenty eight years of driving and my brain is hard wired left hand drive.  I am too old to create new synapses to bridge the gap in spatial awareness for a right hand drive vehicle.  Hence, my significant challenges with the simple task of backing up.  

But what has this to do with Amos...

Amos is the day guard for our little housing compound.  I think there are six or seven homes within the walls of this compound.  Amos, is our gatekeeper.  If everyone in the universe could bring this level of job satisfaction, helpfulness and friendliness to work every day this world would be paradise.  Every morning when I leave Amos opens the gate with the biggest smile.  He is almost laughing the smile is so big.  There is absolutely no way no matter how bad the prior night or early morning that you can remain irritated, pissed off, surly or what have you when you see Amos.  He is the favorite part of EVERY day for me.  

But what has this to do with backing up...
This is my driveway and that is the truck I drive.  Note the really large steel bumpers (2 of them) on the back of the truck.  This is for a couple of reasons.  Trucks are utility in Kenya.  The roads can be atrocious and the traffic...well, you know how I feel about Nairobi traffic.  Every week I am bumped in traffic by a mutatu, motorbike or another car.  It's just a fact of driving in Nairobi.  The parking spaces are also made for nothing bigger than a Smart car and the underground garages were not designed with the truck parker in mind.  The second reason...the right hand drive, left hand drive brain wired operator.

Every morning I come out and have to back out down the drive and avoid hitting my neighbors' Land Cruiser, Mercedes Benz station wagon and $100,000+ Land Rover on steroids.

Then I have to clear the gate.  Monday morning I didn't quite clear the gate.  My neighbor's Benz was park a bit too far to the right and my lane was narrow.  I kept watching the car and promptly backed into the side of the gate.  Luckily, it was with my super duty steel bumpers so no damage.  When I made contact with the gate I look over my other shoulder (can't seem to get the feel of which shoulder I should be looking over) to see Amos, hands waving, jumping up and down, yelling, "Sorry, sorry, sorry."  Not that it was in any way Amos' fault, it's just what Kenyans say when you do something stupid like trip, drop something or run into your compound gate.

As I straightened the truck out and got out onto the road Amos was just smiling like he always does and waved goodbye.  I think he was actually laughing.  

So, Tuesday morning for some reason there's another car in the mix, a large purpleish Toyota Land Cruiser.  Ugh, not today.  As I navigated successfully through the gauntlet of cars I really did not want to "repair" at some point and pulled out into the street Amos is standing there with this big grin saying, "Very good, very good!"  I burst out laughing.  Here was my happy guard cheering me on.  

Today I stopped to take pictures because I knew I wanted to write about how great Amos is.  I ran out there in my pjs this morning taking pictures of the infamous back up lane and Amos graciously let me take his picture (as long as he gets a copy).

Of course Amos has no idea he is the subject of this latest blog.  As I left to head up to the coffee shop to tap into the internet, again I struggled getting the truck down the lane.  It has just become a mental issue at this point.  As I cleared the gate and pulled onto the road there's Amos with his hands glasped raised above his head triumphantly yelling, "Good, good, good!"  I think it has now become Amos' mission to help me clear the gate and cars every day successfully.  

No matter your job, the work you like or don't remember Amos and take pride in the little things you can do every day to make it better.  I will miss Amos.

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