Saturday, November 4, 2017

Just How Stupid Are You?

So, Dude barged past me with more than just an air of arrogance from somewhere in western Uganda and into the shop just below Grand Imperial Hotel. Normally, I would have made noise, unleashed a "WTF", glared and reeled off a dozen tumbavu's at him, but that day – Monday it was, was my trying to ‘keep calm’ day – which regular readers of my Sunday tales know is more than a tall order. The centre piece of the shop was a glass cabinet that also doubled up as the counter with a sign that read: “Fragile – Please DO NOT Lean On The Glass”. I clearly saw Dude reading it and after his brain had digested said information, he pressed his fingers down hard on it. As if to give it a feel for strength.

Satisfied that the ‘Fragile – Please DO NOT Lean On The Glass’ notice didn’t make any sense, he promptly goes ahead and leans on it. There is no need to tell you what happened next, but I will. The glass didn’t merely crack as I thought it would. Rather it spectacularly shattered into a million+ fragments that I guess for the next four months, Shop Attendant had to pick them out using tweezers.      

I probably wouldn’t have told you that tale except whilst doing some reading – The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson, he talks of something called the Dunning-Kruger Effect which, is named after two academics at Cornell University in New York State who first described it. The Dunning-Kruger Effect is basically 'being too stupid to know how stupid you are' which sounds pretty much like a good description of most people in Uganda. I also include myself because coming up next is the account of my act of stupidity many years ago.

I was out on a Friday night with Doc, Julio, Willo, Nodin, Vinta and company having a drink and as time wore on, I was all too aware of the likely hood of a police breathalyser road block being strewn across the road heading home. But the beer was on form and the five simultaneous and incoherent conversations going on were hilarious to say the least even though I can't recall what they were about. So, I stayed longer than I should have.

To get home, I had four options at my disposal - using the main road and risk running into the road block or playing it safe by using one of three back routes. When it was time to go, I hit the main road but for some reason that defies logic or any form of rational thinking, I missed the first back road –  and err, the second and the third.

By the time rational thought returned, I was literally on top of the road block and these were my possibilities.

1. Jump out of the ride, abandon it and flee into the nearest thicket like many people tend to do.

2. Hope for the best.

3. Do a suicidal U-turn and risk getting shot at.

As I weighed the three choices I had a moment of brilliance - my eureka(!) moment. The plan was so outrageously simply and intense, I actually sniggered at Cop ahead and gave myself a pat on the back!

This, is was the plan. As the road block was right outside the police station, I would drive into carpark, go in and see OC and claim that I’ve come to look for Friend who I heard had been arrested. OC would look in the ‘admissions log’ and not find Friend after which, I would get into the car, drive out and be on my way home. After all Cop is not bound to stop anybody driving out of police station.

But there was a problem because the eureka (!) plan didn’t go according to script. Just before Cop came to the car with the breathalyser machine, I pulled out of the que and drove into the police station with a smiling Quarter Guard pulling back the spikes to let me in. OC looked through the admissions log and obviously couldn’t find Friends name.

TB: “Might they have taken him to Katwe Police?”

OC: “You could check with them.”

With that, I sniggered once again all the way back to the ride and tried to drive out except, this time, Quarter Guard wasn’t smiling and didn’t pull back the spikes.

Rather, he shouted: “Affande, come and see this one.” When Affande turned up, he took one whiff at my breath and said: “Eh you man! You have made our job much easier. Just reverse and park the car.”

Ten minutes later I was back before a baffled OC who recorded my name in the admissions log and the rest as they say, is history.    

Now you know why Dunning and Kruger have a point. 

Pictures: Internet

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