Published in The Daily Monitor: monitor.co.ug
The first thing I do before I check into a public place is look for my Ugandan disclaimers. I call them Ugandan because the official use of disclaimers are not the same as the ones that are applied in my beloved country:
“Please enjoy our goods and services. If we annoy you or disrespect you or if anything bad happens to you here, that’s your business. But please. Enjoy our goods and services”.
In a restaurant
Order and eat and take your behind off their chairs. If you hang around after they may consider you a vagrant. Disclaimer? “No idlers allowed”. This happened to me in a popular restaurant in Kampala and I could hardly believe my ears. So before you give some places your money, make sure they won’t chase you away once they’ve gotten what they wanted out of you.
In a club
I LOVE club disclaimers. You never know what they’re going to allow you to wear from one day to the next. One evening I and some girlfriends visited a club and part of her outfit was her hat. The disclaimer? “No caps allowed”. This was a problem. If she took off the hat, all the style and pizzazz was gone from her outfit. We didn’t bribe the security guards but we did come close to getting down own our knees to allow her to enter looking the bomb-diggity.
Never mind the one about how they’ll throw you out like a vagrant after you get drunk drinking the alcohol they served you. That one kinda makes sense. But they should throw you out gently.
In a shopping mall baggage centre
What’s funny is that all the major shopping malls with the capacity and staff to look after your property have a disclaimer saying they’re not obligated to. The same disclaimer refuses you to enter the mall with your precious property. So you see, you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. One day just for fun, I told the baggage handler I didn’t want to hand over my yoga mat because what if she decided to steal it? She wasn’t happy.
The yoga mat story was actually at Shoprite. Their principles resemble though!
In a hotel
These ones have lawyers write their disclaimers. It doesn’t matter if you’re robbed, beaten, raped, poisoned, the disclaimer covers it all. And knowing three people who have been robbed blind in hotels in Kampala (one of them very prestigious), you should take these disclaimers as a sign that your safety is a matter of luck.
And then you have the damn hotel safe
Yes. You will find a disclaimer waiting for you inside there as well. I once opened it to deposit my precious items and noticed a piece of paper inside. Right away I knew my old friend, the disclaimer. The hotel was not responsible for anything I put in the safe!
I suspect these disclaimers have an element of illegality to them but I’ll leave that to the experts.