You know advertising is powerful when you walk into the ladies and hope there is tissue paper and then when you see it, you think, “Tissue si tissue, tissue ni Hanan.” Epic fail. I hate that advert. Nevertheless it is engrained in my head. In fact, come to think of it, if I was responsible for buying tissue in the house, I’d actually try it out. I will try you out when I move out, Hanan. You can go ahead and thank that guy. What’s his name again? I know it’s not Otoyo. Wait. Think, Shiku, think. Colourful clothes. Luo accent. I give up.
Anyway, who goes into a public facility and makes away with an entire roll of tissue paper? (I hear the mark of a lady is always carrying tissue paper with you. Maybe that is where you take it?) What is your problem? It happens every time at my place of work. A few weeks ago, I walked into the ladies on a Monday morning and the Velvex plastic compartment that holds the roll of tissue had been broken into pieces and reduced to the contraption that still stands today. I do not even want to imagine what was going on in there during the weekend. When it rains, women deposit all the mud from shaggz in there. Why do people make the worst use of public or communal amenities? Is it because you are not responsible for it?
Think back to campus, for instance. Back in my hostel at Moi University, every wing had a kitchen in the middle or end of it. The kitchens were fitted with sinks. They never did work right, however, thanks to the uncouth actions of fellow hostel mates. Whether the girl cooked ugali and omena the previous night or rice and greens that lunch time, all the remains would be dumped in these very sinks. Result? The sinks would block so none of them were piped. We had to make do with old, slimy buckets under the sinks to prevent the bothersome torrents of water that would bombard your legs and clothes where there was none. In stark contrast, the rooms occupied by these ladies were little versions of the homes they left behind to come pursue their degrees. Bleached spreads of white lace lined every bit of the walls while the floor was carpeted by both PVC and woollen mats. The study table also had its fair share of mats and pinned accessories. The food shelves dutifully held the transparent dishes of cereals, towering towards the ceiling from largest to smallest. (In case you are wondering, my room was devoid of any of these paraphernalia, save for a PVC carpet which I just had because people would drag their muddy shoes into the room if you did not have one. And trust me, you do not want that in Eldoret. It rains every ten seconds.)
So these girls were not dirty, they were just selfish. And they still had the nerve to complain about the state of the kitchen. That is what most of us are when no one is watching. You throw litter all over, because it’s in the street or on the road, not your sitting room. You pee on the same spot on your way from work, gentleman, because it is not in your bachelor pad. You steal tissue paper. You use the water closet like it’s a pit latrine. You do all those barbaric acts because you are inconsiderate and think that the next person does not deserve to use the facility in the exact good condition you found it.
I remember as a kid, I would dread visiting the public toilets in the Nairobi CBD. Remember those? Close your eyes and remember the flowing horror. That scene from Nairobi Half Life should do it. Back then the failure was two-way. The failure of the city council to maintain proper toilets and of course, the good ol’ mwananchi. That is when you thank God for the brilliant Mr David Kuria for IkoToilet. Today, I do not mind going to the public toilets in Nairobi because I know they will always be clean. Why? Of course there is Mr Kuria to begin with but secondly, there is always a queue in there and the tissue paper is dished out to you in person. You may think this is an inconvenience but it is not for three reasons. One, no woman will leave the toilet soiled because she cares what the next person getting in after her will think, so she will always clean it with the water so graciously provided by the establishment. Two, there is no way you will waste or nab tissue. Three, you are bound to bump into someone you know in there because in the end, we all need to relieve ourselves. I know I have caught up with many a girlfriend during my stops. 😀
It is sad that we have to be monitored like kids when we use public facilities, but that’s the only way it seems to work best for Kenyans. I cannot talk about how men use public utilities because I can never be too sure. My knowledge of their irresponsible behaviour stops at their passing of water almost anywhere in public. I always wonder if their capability to hold it is challenged as compared to their female counterparts. Next time you are about to misuse a public amenity, think about what you are doing. You say you want to make a difference in the world, right? It is easy to make a difference. Only that it can be a positive or negative difference. Which one are you making?