Sam got out of the car and looked around for any sign of Samantha. They’d planned to meet here, at Jaffreys Sports Club in Lavington, Nairobi, and he was 15 minutes late. They’d met here the week before, and he’d been late then. They’d met three weeks before then too, and he was late then, as well. He walked past the trees that lined the side of the track nearest to the parking lot and stopped just off the track, searching the grounds for Samantha’s mane of hair.

Seeing no sign of her, he walked clockwise towards the café on the opposite side of the track. She’d probably be there, her nose buried in a book after having arrived 15 minutes early. She was a stickler for time, Samantha was. She was a stickler for many things actually: no dishes left in the sink for the next morning, no pineapples on pizza, no farting in public. The simple stuff really.

Sam rounded the bend near the café and walked the stairs. He got to the top and saw the blue hair, looking today like a blue crown on an otherwise subdued head. Samantha wore a faded blue denim jacket and black trousers. She was sitting facing the grounds below, her feet resting upon the seat of a chair in front of her. The first floor of the café was littered with a few tables, chairs and bar stools. Samantha didn’t seem to have heard him come up behind her. Sam was just about to attempt to scare her when she turned around, a wry smile on her face.

“Punctuality really isn’t your strong suit, is it?” she asked.

“I’m sorry,” Sam said. “At least I was only 15 minutes late today. I’m getting better.”

“Oh indeed. At least we’ve halved my waiting time from half an hour. Or should we count the time I spent here before the actual time we were supposed to meet?”

“Let’s not. Just give me my flowers and move on,” he said as he took a seat next to her, also facing the grounds.

“I ordered a coffee from downstairs, would you like something as well?”

“I’ll have a coffee too, yeah.”

“Okay. I think the waiter will come up in a minute.”

“You have him on call or what?”

“No. He followed me up to take my order when I got here, so I’m assuming he’ll do the same.”


“So? How are you? How’ve you been?”

“I’m alright, the past week has been okay. Work is going okay too, and the family is doing well as far as I know.”

“If everything’s okay, why do you look like you have something that’s bugging you?”

“There sort of is. I read an article the day before yesterday about knowing one’s worth and being deserving of good things in life. I wonder if I’ve been doing that.”

“Why do you wonder if you have?”

Just then the waiter at the café, a tall, thin man, walked up to their table.

“May I take your order sir?” he asked Sam with a smile.

“I’ll have coffee, black with no sugar.”

“Right away sir,” the waiter said as he walked back down the steps, his head staying perfectly still while the rest of his long body moved with lanky smoothness.

“Not only do you not know how to keep time, but you also don’t seem to enjoy the sweeter things in life,” Samantha said to Sam, a laugh in her voice.

“Oh shut up. In fact, that’s sort of what’s been on my mind. The article I read was talking about things like putting boundaries for yourself, asking for the things you know you deserve and not accepting less, all that jazz. And I just wondered if I do those things in my own life. I feel like I’ve been letting people run my life and walk all over me.”

“How so?”

“For example, you walk all over me all the time.”

“I do not.”

“If you insist. But the other day when I went for my job interview and they told me what the starting salary would be, I nearly turned it down.”

“But you told me they made you a good offer?”

“They did. Sort of. The job itself is cool and not too stressful, my colleagues are nice and the company is well-known and prestigious to work for. But the pay sucks. I took the job because I was desperate for it. I was starting to feel like I was being left behind while everyone else was getting ahead in life.”

“How much are they paying you?”

“Ksh. 40,000 per month.”

“That’s not so bad.”

“Yes it is. What am I supposed to do with that, honestly? Yes, I don’t have many responsibilities, but I’m still stuck at my parents’ house because I can’t afford rent in a decent place. And after taking care of the things I need to take care of, what’s left of my salary is laughable. I can’t do the things I want to do with that salary Samantha. I have dreams, you know.”

“And that’s good, but what makes you think you deserve a higher salary?”

“It goes back to what was in that article. I can’t have gone to school for all those years to end up getting paid peanuts. I worked hard to get where I am. I’m an asset to the company. Therefore I deserve to be compensated for all that.”

“Who knows all that?”

“All what?”

“All that stuff about yourself; who knows it?”

“What do you mean? Even if you don’t know me, all that stuff is there in my resume. And I have the grades and the certificates to back it up.”

“What if you’re lying?”


“I asked what if you’re lying?”

“I’m not lying.”

“Yeah but what if you were? How would the company you work for be able to prove everything you say is true?”

“I have certificates! I have evidence!”

“What if you forged them?”

“Surely Samantha, why would I do that?”

“Don’t people do that? Haven’t you heard of people doing that?”

“But how do we know you didn’t?”

“The evidence is there!”

“That might be fake. How do we–”

“You’re making this a little too hypothetical now Samantha. We’re not all that untrustworthy. It’s not fair–”

“Shut up for a minute and listen. We don’t live in a world that’s fair. We’re not all trustworthy either. You can’t blame anyone for being suspicious. Too many people have been cheated.”

“Why do I have to suffer for that though?”

“Maybe because, unfortunately, that’s just how life is. A lot of life is about proving yourself. You do exams to prove that you got a good education and can apply the things you learned. You do tryouts to prove that you can play a particular sport well and be of value to a team. You go for interviews to prove that you’re the right candidate for a job. You do auditions to prove that you’re the perfect actor for a role, or that your voice can wake the dead. They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and in these cases you don’t get to just say it, you get to prove it.

“Sometimes even when you pass the exam, make the team, get the job, or land the role, you have to keep proving that you’re deserving of it,” Samantha continued. “Maybe that sounds unfair, but I find a certain beauty in that. It means that you can never say, ‘I made it’. You have to keep working, improving and learning. You can never get comfortable or complacent.”

“Okay Samantha, but I still think I deserve more than what I’m getting. I believe I’m worth more than that.”

“That’s true. But back to what I was saying, you need to prove that to your bosses, to your employer. They need to see your value and your worth made manifest, not read it on a computer screen. They’ll be hard pressed to deny you what you want then. You’ll be deserving of it then, too. Yes you deserve to be taken care of because you have skills and an education that were hard to get. But so do other people. Does that make you more deserving than them? And do you deserve something just because you want it or think you deserve it? Or are you deserving of something because you’ve earned it?”

“I deserve something because I’ve earned it–”

“I’m glad you agree.”

“–but I also deserve some things because they’re basic needs. I deserve to eat, to get an education, the opportunity to work and be employed, to be treated with respect, to a lifetime supply of Skittles for all the Skittles I’ve bought and eaten. You get me?”

“I do, although I can’t say I agree. Except for the Skittles part. They should definitely make you a brand ambassador or something.”

“As long as we agree on that, everything else is fine,” Sam said with a smile.

“May I get you anything else?” the waiter asked from behind them.

Startled, they both turned to look at him. He smiled at them.

“I think that conversation could use some more coffee,” he said.

“Could I get mine warmed?” Sam asked. He hadn’t touched his coffee since it came, and it was now lukewarm.

“Certainly sir, you deserve it,” the waiter said with a wink.