Friday, June 05, 2009

More Shopping Tales From The Dark Continent

A tale in the same vein as the one where I tried to return three rakes, and only got my money back for the ones that weren't broken...

A colleague of ours was telling me a story last week. She wanted to get some skirts made out of the loud, funky Congolese cotton prints that are so beautiful. She'd bought her fabric and found a local seamstress.

The seamstress gave her a quote which included a charge for making a lining for the skirts. Our colleague didn't want a lining - she just wanted a simple cotton one piece skirt run up. She agreed with the seamstress that she would sew her the skirts without a lining.

When she went to collect the skirts she was presented with a bill that was the same price as if she had included the lining. She queried it, reminding the seamstress that the skirts had been made without the lining, so there was no real justification for charging her for the extra material a lining would have used.

Ah but Madam the seamstress replied, You are thin, but some of my clients, they are fat. And they will use extra material for their skirts and linings, so I need to charge you extra to pay for that material.

This is a logical conclusion for most shopkeepers in Kampala. And yet it is a scenario where most muzungus come unstuck, ranting and railing at the ridiculousness of it all.

Don't get me wrong. I have my days when I rant and rail. But it rarely gets you anywhere. Sometimes you just have to accept that you will be paying for fat women's skirt linings, and you'll probably be happier for it.


Marie said...

That's brilliant! Love the logic there...

Amanda Castleman said...

I love how honest the seamstress was!

Dr Jude said...

Reminiscent of the "Base of Pyramid" type business structure, where those who can afford to pay (for eye surgery say), pay for three people. So that two others, who can't pay, get the eye surgery too.

Terence said...

Reminds me of this wonderful bit of Irish logic I encountered in a small newsagent's shop in Kenmare.

It was a beautiful Sunday morning, I was just coming back from a lovely walk and stopped into get my copy of the Irish Times.

When I asked the lovely lady behind the counter for a copy of the Times, she enquired "Would you like today's Times or yesterday's?" "Today's" I answered.

"Ah, then you must come back tomorrow" she replied, not missing a lovely Irish beat.