Our neighbor and fellow AIM AIR missionary, Tom, took me to the store recently to get a stove, coffee pot, and wall clock. Just getting to the store on the Nairobi streets is an adventure in itself. Once we got the Nakumatt (a Walmart-type store), I found the coffee pots first. I picked one out in 15 minutes, about average for me.
The oven took a bit longer, for the obvious reason that it involves a larger amount of money. I wanted to get a gas stove top and oven, since power outages here are pretty common. The only models that had gas ovens were either the cheapest quality or were at the very top of my price range. Tough call. I like to spend less, but poor quality is unacceptable. The clerks in the appliance department did not necessarily know their products. When I explained I wanted a gas oven, they pointed to a couple other models. Tom and I could see that these were obviously electric. But rather than argue, we just kept looking. I finally decided to choose quality over cheapness (is that a real word?). Ok, next! On to the clock section. I thought it would be easy.
I just wanted a plain, battery operated clock, easy to read. After finding the right aisle, I noticed that there were many clocks to pick from, display models propped up against a stack of thin, plain clock boxes that I assumed were the same as the display.
“Great, piece of cake!” I told myself.
I picked up the first model and thought, “Sure, this one will work just fine. Now to grab one in a box.” The first box had a different style clock than the model I had picked out. The second, third, and fourth boxes were empty. Ok, not so easy.
I moved on to the next display model that caught my eye. It seemed to be in the wrong place, because the clocks in those boxes were either not the same or were empty. At about this time I noticed that the boxes actually had a small diagram of the clock on one corner, which helped a little. This same box opening sequence happened at least one more time before I finally found a box with an acceptable clock in it; though it still didn’t match its display model.
Picking out the $6 clock was almost more exhausting than the stove! Shopping is just different here in Nairobi. Things we have taken for granted in American stores become obvious when looking for the “simplest” things. However, we will learn and adjust – give ourselves more time to find things and not be surprised when the boxes are empty! Slowly slowly, as they say here, we will figure things out.