30 Jun

QUEUE CHRONICLES

Art of jumping from bed’s upper deck into your shoes in race to dining hall

Oh, teens and food! They are in that stage where the body is rapidly 3D-priting and it needs a lot of raw material pumped in.

Ironically, this is the stage when they don’t get enough because a number of them are usually in boarding school; boarding school where managers and bursars and cooks and everyone else in the food chain wants to corruptly pinch one thing or another at the expense of the ever-hungry students. And some stomachs also slither around and take a second serving before others have taken their first. It is as if all this was planned by a master sadist.

That takes me back to the old days at Kericho High School. Man! Had Charles Darwin been able to see the way meal times happened there, I’m sure he would have added a few more pages to his book on survival for the fittest. In fact, a few more chapters. Or even a whole new book.

In one of the gravest historical injustices, breakfast tea time was based on a four-a-side arrangement where one student, obviously a Form One, served tea in a jug for his consumption and for three others.

Poor Form Ones. They had to fight, shove, fall, rise, bite, box, TKO, kung fu, karate, WWE, UFC and do everything in the book to ensure they somehow got to serve the tea.

Failure to get the tea invited dire consequences. Your photo appearing on the DCI Twitter handle nowadays is nothing compared to missing tea for your “squad” back then. More often, the other squad four was made up of Form Twos who were not very kind on the cheeks of a Form One who had missed out on tea.

So, the poor Form Ones had to find ways of reaching the dining hall as soon as the bell rang. Problem 1: Form Ones usually occupied the upper deck of the school’s double-decker beds. Problem 2: Wasting even one second after the 5.30am bell rang meant you had left room for 100 or more to get ahead of you.

Forget Usain Bolt. Forget Omanyala, Kenya’s fastest man so far. I honestly think the fastest 100 metres race ever run on earth happened at Kericho High those days.

The race started as soon as the bell rang. Creative Form Ones worked out the ultimate speed formula: Sleep in your full uniform and as soon as the bell rings, jump into the shoes directly from the upper deck and with your jug in hand, you’re in the race to the serving point. This method of jumping straight into your shoes from the upper deck should have interested the NASA scientists who work on rocket landing technologies.

Those who didn’t master this skill slept in their shoes. It was that bad. So, telling Arsenal fans to “lala na viatu” because their team has managed a rare win isn’t a very novel thing for a person who was in Kericho High those days.

Many had their jugs lying next to them as they slept. For extra security, the jug would be the pillow. And the cup also wasn’t far away. Survival, bro. Survival.

Now I remember a certain guy in our class whose nickname was Babuu. How he got that name, nobody seems to know. Probably it is in the Kriegler report or somewhere; I’ll check.

As a Form One, Babuu faced lots of hostility from his “squad” because his clumsy frame and cooking-stick legs couldn’t get to the dining hall fast enough to get the tea.

Bothered by the punishment he got from his three “dependents”, Babuu one day came up with the mother of all strategies. In retrospect, I think this was the great-great grandmother of all strategies: He decided to sleep in the store.

His calculation was that if he spent the night in the store, which was a section of the dining hall, he would wake up pronto and get his tea. No more harassment from his squad, right?

Wrong. Babuu was a heavy sleeper. Such a pity. He slept through the whole serving process and he would only wake up when the cooks were taking away the tea sufurias after all of it had been served. Poor Babuu’s strategy was a catastrophic failure, but it made him quite famous.

Queues those days were a huge source of stress. Form Ones had it the roughest especially for breakfast. They were luckier for the other meals because they had a special queue for lunch and supper, as did the Form Fours. The other meals left Form Twos and Threes at a disadvantage as they risked missing out on meals.

I understand things are better for students at Kericho High nowadays. They brought the table system that doesn’t demand the upper cuts, low blows, jabs, head knocks, guerrilla warfare and all the tricks where you would burn like 5,000 calories trying to serve a meal with about 1,000. And there is no Fuliza for calories!

But probably those fights for food were an eye-opener. Today where I am, I am very passionate about solutions to solve queue problems

Challenges of queues are still there. Go to hospitals, banks, voting booths, bus and train stops, meal times at events like weddings, registration in universities, among others. You will find a semblance of those fights at Kericho High. At The Micropoint Systems Ltd we have a simplified and digital queue management system. In case you want to hear more about it, please reach out to me.

Otherwise, I also enjoyed my days at Kericho High and the learning opportunities in class and out of it. If that weren’t the case, probably I wouldn’t be telling you this today.

By Cornelius Tonui; The Micropoint Systems Ltd.

Email: cornelius@micropointsystems.net, ctonui@gmail.com