My Picture of Frustration

If I could paint a picture of frustration, I’d paint a picture of me at the barbershop. The man I go to for haircuts is agonizingly slow. Picture this – yesterday I had to wait for two hours before he sculpted my head. I’m sure you’re guessing there was a long queue of clients eager to have him go all Delilah on their locks but you’re wrong, the number of clients ahead of me was just two. No, there’s nothing wrong with your eyes, you read right… 2 clients in two hours. When I finally sat under his buzzing clippers (for an hour), I looked in the mirror and seeing people waiting behind me, I thought to myself,

“Yes, I hope you’re not in a hurry because you’re about to pose for my mental painting of frustration.” Anybody, who’s done business in Zimbabwe knows that we absorb a lot of bad service before we complain (if at all), and even if we do, we rarely direct our complaints at the source of the bad service. For example, I’ve never complained to my barber about the infinite lengths of time he takes to cut hair yet I’m ranting here. I’m not the only one; I remember speaking to an acquaintance about the deplorable supply of electricity (or lack thereof) in our country only to be stunned by his reply,

“They’re experiencing difficulties, we need to be understanding.” Why should I be so accepting? If you offer a service that you charge for, shouldn’t your clients expect value for money spent? Surely, if you fail, you ought to bend over backward to apologize to your clients as you jump through hoops to start delivering what you promised. I’m told this happens in other countries as well as in a few oases of business sense in mine. However, in general, Zimbabwean businesses just tell you about their challenges as if you the client should either offer them solutions or just wait quietly like a good little Zimbabwean.

What is it about us that makes us so stoic in the face of poor service? It can’t be “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change” because we wax lyrical about the said poor service to everyone except those who are responsible for it. Well yesterday, I know why I was stoic (and it’s not just my introversion)… the guy is good at what he does. Too many Zimbabwean business people have got only the image part of business right: Look like you’re going to deliver, talk like you’re going to deliver, move like you’re finally going to deliver but… never actually deliver. My barber delivers. Cutting hair to him, is more than a job, it’s a calling. I’m almost surprised he doesn’t shed a tear at the end of each worship serv… oops, I mean, haircut. I just wish he felt called to be quick about it too.

I suppose you can get away with being so slow if you’re good at what you do. Just keep hoping someone just as good but faster doesn’t come along. I think it’s about time all clients refused any services or products that aren’t the very best. It’s time to stop painting pictures of frustration.


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I bleed ink

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