Day in the Life of an UMEME Switchman

1st December 2018

Day in the Life of an UMEME Switchman

(Inspired by the New Vision satiric series on occupations)

7 am: The sun is streaming in the window as I’m rudely awakened by my wife. “There’s no power” she says. I reply “What do you need the power for, isn’t the sun shining?” I tell you, education is wasted on women. I go back to sleep.

8.30am: I yawn, stretch, and demand my breakfast. Herself arrives with my tray and says “There’s still no power”. I don’t what all this fuss is about electricity; my up-country brother was telling me that he was fixing a hole in his roof when someone from UMEME asked him if he wanted the light in. He said “No, I’m trying to keep the light out.” We agreed that it was a very silly question.

9 am: I get out of bed ready to face the new day.

10.30am: I wander into work having met a few friends over a beer.

11.30am: Having gone around the building greeting and chatting with all the bosses (they’re all very nice to me; they learnt the hard way) I ascend to my ‘throne’ and there’s the power switch. I contemplate it for a few moments and, with a sigh, turn it on. So, are you happy now?

Midday: I turn off the switch for safety reasons, it’s lunchtime.

2.00pm: I stroll in after a leisurely meal and contemplate the switch. It’s important that they don’t overheat from too much use so I decide to wait 30 minutes. Replacing switches is a tedious business; they have to be flown in especially from China. I’m very fussy about my power switches. I won’t have any American or European makes; they’re a load of rubbish. And they have to be flown in one at a time since they have to be fresh. A switch after its sell-by date is a dangerous weapon; could be used during a Walk to Work walk to work. Anyway, I’ve already had three months on paid leave this year so I’ll wait another month.

2.30pm: Eeeeh! There’s a lightning storm. I turn off the power and hide under the table.

3.30pm: You’re complaining that the power is going on and off? Have you no sympathy? Do you know how difficult it is to control a power switch when you have hiccups? I try my granddad’s cure of drinking out of a glass backwards but, as I have no water, I use waragi. This doesn’t work so I do it standing on my head with a second bottle of waragi. That seems to work but have a third bottle just to be sure. But now I have a sneezing fit.

4 pm: I turn off the switch and go to apply for an occupational hazard grant.

4.30pm: The hiccups and sneezing have made me light-headed so I leave work early; having made sure that the switch is off. I wrap my charm, blessed by a witch-doctor-priest, around the switch that makes men impotent and women ugly; nobody messes with my switch while I’m taking a well-deserved rest over the weekend. This is important; once, and I cringe in shame to remember it, I forgot and Uganda had electricity for the whole weekend! There was no end of moaning when I turned it off on return. People get spoiled if they think they can have electricity all the time.

5.50pm: I drop by my brother’s shop – he sells generators – to discuss family affairs. No! No! It is a total coincidence that I get a major contribution from the excellent profits. That’s just his way of saying thank you in appreciation for my loyal patriotic service to the country.

8 pm: I go to my secret flat into the loving arms of my mistress and get myself in the mood with an obushera schnapps cocktail…

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