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Doris Ukaonu

My day started out as they usually do, uneventfully for the most part; wake up, brush teeth, shower…you know the drill. By the time it was noon, it was just another day in the metropolis that is Lagos, going about my business in Victoria Island. Arriving at the place of my scheduled meeting, I was not surprised to find the parking spaces completely occupied, Ajose after all is as busy a road as you will find on any given day. I spoke to the security officer on the possibility of parking inside the building, but he informed me it was an honor reserved only for staff. I made my way to no more than three buildings away where I attempted to park in an open space by a gate before a security officer sprung to life and rushed to the car.

‘Who you dey come see?” he asked.

I considered lying, but being out of practice for too long left by brain stale with names. I should have just said Ifeanyi or Mr. Olu, there is one in every building. But nevermind, honesty was going to take the lead for today.

“I get meeting for another building. I just wan park here.” I replied.

“You can’t park here if you aren’t coming here” he said.

I sighed and moved the gear into reverse.

“Oga, no be like that. You go give us something park here. Na just 500.”

Not wanting to be late, I sighed and handed the man a note. I knew the classic amount for parking spaces on the Island was N200, but I wasn’t in the mood to bargain.

I went for my meeting, listened to presentations, took notes and shook hands. An hour and half later, I returned to this.

I called the attemption of the security men to the car. One by one, each came with a face full of confusion. They were quick to catch me parking in their space, but too slow to catch someone robbing my car from right under their noses. The man wanted to point to the “Cars Parked at Owners Risk” sign painted onto the fence, but he had specifically collected my money to make it his risk. Before I knew it, the begging had begun. I should never have pulled out my phone and mentioned Police Statement and Insurance. Soon the supervisor was on the scene. An aging man with a basin for a belly.

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“I am using God to beg you.” were his first words.

Now, for those that aren’t aware, a Toyota Corolla’s brainbox is worth at least N60,000-N70,000 in the market. If God wasn’t going to credit my account with something close, I wasn’t sure why the security supervisor was inviting him into our discourse. In my mind, I was convinced his guards were in on this, till today, I am not sure what to believe. I made a few calls and almost everyone I spoke to told me one car break-in story, great. My friend that also owned a Corolla told me how his brainbox was stolen at a bar where he had gone for a beer and pepper soup, early evening in a fenced establishment. I battled with what to believe as these men begged me like their lives depended on it, citing that they will get fired if I escalated the matter. Apparently, something similar had happened a few months ago and everyone on duty that day had been fired. My heart hardened from one too many Nigerians telling me how they will get fired if I escalated anything would not let me pass. It is the same story every time someone hits my car. It’s always an Uber driver that doesn’t own the car or some truck driver that hasn’t eaten in three days. Eventually, they agreed to contribute N20,000 for my car repairs. It wasn’t exactly going to do much fixing the broken glass and the stolen brainbox, but it was better than nothing.

My mechanic had to use someone else’s brainbox to start the car and drive it to his workshop leaving me to enjoy the wonders of Lagos public transport for a day because I suffer from a level of privilege that makes me opt for such choices when the opportunity is available. I have been since reunited with my car, and a bit short of their words, they have credited me with N17,000. However, I still live with the fear that these security men have played a fast one on me. So what do you think? Do you think the robbers are just that good, or this is a syndicated effort I should have escalated to expose a ring of brainbox thieves. I gift to you, the comment section! Let me know.

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