The desire to better ones social status may be the most destructive force on the planet. It demands that some people are lower status and others are higher. The whole system works because the lower status people agree to give special favor to higher status.
People love famous people, this makes the system work.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
This is Phillip in the middle, Sarah on the right and I do not know who on the left. I met Phillip in Migoris, Kenya. Phillip is a good guy, speaks good English, polite, and treated me generally with his version of respect. I have no doubt he had good intentions and wanted to be my friend.
He took me to a Hotel called Gillies I sat in the restaurant area until he went back to work and I escaped. I walked to the road and snagged the first small Matatu van that passed and went to Kisii, then onto Kigoris.
I met Phillip while I was having my customary argument with the Kenya Taxi and transportation people; Kenya is especially difficult in East Africa.
I wanted to know if there was an easier, quicker way to get to Kilgoris than to pass through Kisii and where the vans put 20 people in a van meant to carry 14 people.
Private Taxi drivers offered me outrageous prices, Philipp INTERUPTED ME, while I was trying to tell in my best English to one driver,
“You are F**King nuts, get the H9ll out of here, and stop bothering me.”
I was surrounded, up to my ears in idiocy, and Phillip offered to help me in his best Nigerian way to solve my problems.
Ok, I decided the bandits were overwhelming me and time to stop and go to a restaurant, drink some of the great Milk Coffee and flirt with the beauty I spotted. All the drivers, Phillip and the rest did not get the message, they all followed me into the restaurants, and insults could not get them to leave.
Phillip was on a Status Mission, he wanted to show me he was somebody in town. He was genuinely trying to help me, what he did not understand is he was trying to help himself more. I bought him a Krest, this great bitter lemon drink made by Coca Cola and slowly all the pain the butt drivers left. I surmised I had to go to Kisii, it had been raining for a week and all the roads were mud.
Welcome to Kenya, land of the pothole road, truly a mess after leaving Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania, I am back in the land of Potholes.
Philip offers to walk me to the Gillie hotel, but first he has to stop and show me his office… come on guy, I am tired, I told him I was tired, but he had to show me his office. I got to carry 80 pound on my back to a hotel that is just behind the truck… (He said) and I had a taxi driver he drove way that would have done it for 100 Shillings… One Dollar…
HE wanted me to see his office…, not allowing me to take the taxi.
Then we go to a Hotel where he knows the staff, it is a large dreary hotel where I am sure everybody comes and drinks and shags their girls, it is off the road and hidden.
Although well intended, Phillip was a slave to his desire to know a white man, get my address, my phone number and know exactly where I was living. He told me to shower, and he would show me the town…. I do not remember asking or wanting that. Translated, this means he would drag me to every friend he has in the city, make me spend money at their shops, make me say hello and show me as his new friend from America.
This is all fine and dandy if I wanted to do this, but I did not, he sounded too much like a Nigerian to me, talking, talking and talking, never really able to listen.
This is a status trap; many people will want to meet you, show you off to their friends and allow you to pay, believing I need their help, even though I told him I did not 20 times.
This is the number one reason I do not do couch surfing, I do not want a guide, I do not want to be shown the city, I just want to enjoy the place without someone thinking they have the right to make me go with them to see the place.
Getting invited into people’s homes is the least of my problems, trying to leave without feeling obligated is my bigger problem.
Now, take this all with a grain of salt, meeting people is the greatest part about travel. However, keep in mind this idea of status. Does the person you meet have a need to show you off to all his or her friends?
“Why does this person need to show me to people?”
I got in the Van to Kilgoris, I met a man by the name of Peter who owns a local business in Kilgoris, and we had a great conversation. He did not follow me to my Hotel, I asked him where his business was located and maybe we will talk again. I do not have to worry about him invading my world. I do not want privacy, however I do want to know I have the right to go back to my room and read a book.
Peter gave me this right, while Phillip could not get a grip on the respect for other people concept.
The majority of tourist and travelers love all the attention; I am the strange one here. I do not want or need the attention.