I usually take a bike to a certain stop before I get a cab to work. Today, all eight bikes I stopped wouldn’t agree to take me (weird!). I decided to cross over. After waiting 5 minutes and flagging down two more bikes, I eventually stopped a cab. He said he was going my way. I got in the front seat. A well dressed guy got in the backseat.
Fast forward two minutes, the driver stops the car and the guy at the back gets off. He did not pay. The driver and I call his attention (He was already half way across the street). Guy returns. Hands over a note to driver (Fare is 50 naira). On opening his hand, driver realises it is ... wait for it... 5 British pounds!! Driver and I look askance. I ask bewildered, “na fake money?!” Driver says, “no na real!” Driver calls him back.
Guy returns. And after muttering some indecipherable language (maybe French), he hands over another note to driver. Guy hurriedly leaves. Driver opens hand and viola.... it is a 10 dollar note and a 5 dollar note. I am gobsmacked! What is going on? Driver calls him back and says to me, sombre faced, “Madam, I’m a Christian, I have to tell him the money is ‘over’. Guy is called back.
Driver- “Oga, this money you gave me is too much. My money is 50 naira. Are you a foreigner?”
Guy- Mutters gibberish. Gabon and Francais decipherable.
Driver- "Where are you going? Or do you want me to take you to Gabon embassy to change the money?"
And this is where FeistyPen bolts, calmly and very dignified.
I turn around, to see just if my sensors were merely in overdrive. But alas they were right on target. Car and driver and man are nowhere to be seen. I look further down the road and all I see is a cloud of dust. The speed is toh badt!
I shoulda known or should I have?!
1. I have been travelling this route every work day for the past year or so. No more than 2 bikes refused to go to my stop. Today, it was a record eight!
2. After crossing and waiting to flag down a cab, a convoy of ten cars stop in front of me as if trying to hit me. A mere coincidence? Maybe, but it sure was unusual.
3. Cabs do not normally ply that route especially if it isn’t ‘drop’. Today’s was a first. Definitely unusual, but I was running late.
4. Guy at the backseat never actually said a word or told driver where he was going. But driver ‘knew’ and stopped.
5. Driver sounded so sure when he said, “The money na real. Must have been to sow the seed for later use!
6. When driver asked man if he was a foreigner and would like to be taken to the Gabon Embassy to change the money, my typical Las gidi response should have been, “Wetin consign you?” and by the way is the friggin Gabon Embassy on the way to Epe?!
This is what would have happenned if I stayed:
If I was still in the cab after guy acquiesces to go to the Gabon Embassy, driver would have made an effort to drive a few more metres towards my final destination. On the way, either driver or guy would have asked, the“madam, you fit help us change some of money?” Notice the use of 'us' . This is some two-man gang squad! Driver would have brought out some of his own naira and changed a small amount to get me to relax. Then I may have brought out some of mine, since the driver was changing his too. As soon as my naira touches their hand and their ‘dollar’ mine, it is at this point they say, the “jazz transfers”.
The jazz in question is capable of instilling in you an uncanny desire to change naira, yours, your father’s, your friend’s, your company’s...... into dollars and that is when your dilemma begins. You may need to sell your house!
I escaped. Thank God. Yes, I thank him. It is interesting to note that the decision to get off the cab wasn’t really much of a decision; just my hand moving to the door knob in a split second and the rest of my body following suit.
Guys, I had 70, 000 naira in my bag, and it is just the fifth of the month. Some starving there eh!
And oh yes, the first bike I flagged down after the incident, carried me with no incident. Go figure!
Have you had any experience like this before? What do you think made you escape if in fact you did?