A good week to everybody! Yes, I know I owe you a strong tale of a mishap that befell me me last week, or was it the week before that? I'm trying to type from my Blackberry phone and I have no idea how to put paragraphs in this thing. Nkem, you'll have have to sort this thing; it's what I 'pay' you for!. So where ever you read me shout 'paragraph!', you put one. You read? Good. :-) Paragraph!
It was a lovely Saturday afternoon and I had hitherto decided to spend the whole day lounging in my home. I had my books that I hadn't read and some delicious movies that I had saved to watch alone.; I like to rewind a lot so I can 'chew the cud' on special moments. Yes, I am not everyone's favourite movie partner. In preparation of building my cosy cocoon around me, I had bought my beloved cod fish which I was going to season with garlic, grill and devour with sauteed fluted pumpkin leaves (ugu). I'd cleaned out the fish, seasoned it and went to turn the grill on only to realize I'd run out of gas! Not to be deterred I unhooked the gas cylinder from the the cooker and drove off to the gas man's shop to fill her up. I filled my canister up and it occurred to me to indulge my sweet tooth as well. I drove to a nearby store to buy some fruit juice and my favourite potato crisps, sour cream and onion. I parked my car on the bustling road right behind another parked car and went into the store to grab my goods. I had just taken my purchase to the cashier's to pay for them when a woman rushed into the shop asking for the owners of the cars parked outside. Thinking an accident had just occurred we, the owner of the other car and I, both rushed outside to find out what was going on. To my utter dismay I saw the dreaded LASTMA tow truck already reversing into the back of Betty, its towing appendage already extended! 'Paragraph!'
I quickly ran up to the LASTMA official in charge and tried to explain to him that I had no prior knowledge that the road I was parked on was a no parking zone. He patiently listened to my entreaties, nodded understandingly while Betty was being hoisted up in the air and told me I could come and explain the situation at the office they were taking my car to. Meanwhile the other man smartly jumped into his car and zoomed off to safety. In a matter of seconds I saw my impassive Betty being carted away unceremoniously. I was nonplussed. I was at a loss of what to do. My pleasant evening was going up in smoke in the back of my car. I was still standing there looking dazed when one of the onlookers ran up to me and urged me not to let them take my car to their station otherwise not only would I have to pay a hefty fine – an equivalence of about $400 – but it would take about a week for me to get her back. I did not need to be told twice. I quickly hailed one of the okadas (commercial motorcycle) passing by and ordered him to give chase after the retreating miscreants. We soon caught up with their truck and I tried to hail them to stop so we could talk. The chief officer refused to stop and encouraged me to meet them at their station. All sense of propriety and decorum had by now left me. From where I was seated on the bike I held on to the door of the towing truck and refused to let go not caring who saw or recognized me in such an undignified position. We must have looked quite a spectacle weaving all over the road or my persistence must have paid off because the truck was soon forced to stop. They opened the door for me to get in. 'Paragraph!'
I dispatched the okada with a quick hundred naira note and clambered into the truck’s cab with the officer. I told them I had never broken a traffic law and I had merely gone to buy baby food at the shop with no knowledge that the spot I parked on was a no parking zone owing to the non existence of any warning sign to that effect. The officer turned to me and sympathetically told me that the meter had already begun running; they would have to give an account of the vehicle they had towed at the office.'Paragraph!'
The long and short of the story is that I parted with four thousand naira (about $27) before Betty’s dignity was restored to her and we were left to go on our merry way. I went back to the same store – I parked properly of course – and bought exactly the same crisps and drink I have gone to buy before. Surprisingly the store keeper refused to take my money and let me have them for free. Well that’s it folks, my misadventure on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Till next time then, do have a great week everyone!