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The Worst Offenders of Misplaced Perspectives

August 22 , 2020
By Kidist Yidnekachew ( Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at )

It is hard to wrap one’s mind around some people’s mentality. It never ceases to amaze me how some interpret actions and react to them. It is easy to be persuaded that we are members of two different worlds every time this happens.

Last week, a lady who lives on the ground floor of our apartment building knocked on my door to complain about the rainwater that passed down her way through the gutter drains.

“You people think you are the only ones who live here,” she exclaimed. “What about the rest of us?”

I tried to explain: it was not intentional. This is what gutter drains do. Rain, which can only come from above, is directed through the gutter and down the drain pipes. People on the ground floor may end up getting the short end of the stick, especially if there are design flaws, but there is nothing I could do about it.

One would think that living in condominiums would be enough to escape the regular drama that afflicts many neighbourhoods. But no such luck, and it serves as a daily reminder of the contrasting attitudes and worldviews shared by people who nonetheless live and thrive in the same area.

The most famous offenders of mismatched points of view and expectations are taxi drivers and their passengers. Drama is always found there, and this is mostly a symptom of perspectives that often run in direct contradiction to each other.

There are many good taxi drivers and assistants, the latter known as redat. There are some that treat their passengers with respect, making the trip worthwhile. But many make life unbearable for their passengers. Almost every resident of Addis Abeba that is a daily user of taxis has been on the receiving end of this. It is the same for taxi cabs.

A few weeks ago, I had to take a cab to my house. Since the queue for the blue minibus taxis was very long, it was raining, and I was in a hurry, I thought I would try my luck with the cabs.

I approached a taxi cab, and I was asked to pay 150 Br. It was a bit expensive, but I agreed. The driver was an old guy. As I got into the taxi, I told him that since I was going to pay full price, he might as well drop me off at my house. He was fine with this. I did not even mind when he boarded another passenger in the assumption that she would be going my way. She was not though. The driver had to take a long route to take her to her neighbourhood, wasting my time in the process.

We drove for over an hour for a trip that would have taken me 30 minutes otherwise. When the lady got off, I harangued the driver. It especially did not sit well with me that she got to pay only 50 Br, while I was supposed to pay three times as much.

“You know how there is no work now, and people don’t have money. We are trying to help them out,” he said.

How exactly was he doing that though?

He cannot help one passenger at the expense of another. Not only was it unfair that I had to sit there for that long, but he did not mention which way he was going to go.

I was pissed, and I told him, “See, this is the reason why a lot of people opt for Ride [a taxi hailing company] instead of you these days.”

But he was a nice guy and regardless of the trip I did not want to offend him.  We ended up talking about the current affairs of the country, how the prices of commodities were skyrocketing, how most folks were struggling to earn a living these days and how COVID-19 is making things worse.

He was not a bad person, and neither was the lady on the ground floor of my apartment block. It is just misplaced perspectives, an inability to put oneself in another’s shoes. Had the tables turned, it would probably be the case that the old man would feel as indignant as I felt, and I would appear to be rather nonchalant.

PUBLISHED ON Aug 22,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1060]

Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at

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