Friday, December 22, 2006

The Curious Case of Mr W on the Piccadilly Line

As promised, the follow up...

Having endured unspeakable horrors on my transatlantic flight (well not really unspeakable since they were the subject of my last post), I approached the Piccadilly line platform at Heathrow terminal 4 with relief. It was of course short-lived, because as I surveyed the tube map to double check my destination, I heard the by now all-too familiar voice of yet another of my esteemed fellow countrymen far too close to my ear for comfort, "Are you as smart as you are beautiful? Because if so then I am sure you can help me reach my destination."

I turned my head to see a little man, (probably 4ft 8 at the most) standing within what is universally known as one's bubble of personal space. I took a step back and asked him how I could be of assistance while choosing not to dignify his ridiculous come-on with any form if acknowledgment. "Well, I am trying to get to Canada Water to see my friend for the day, you see I have just flown in from Toronto and will be heading out to Nigeria tonight and I decided that rather than staying in a hotel, I would do some shopping and sightseeing." Why do people like Messrs W, X, Y & Z assume that I give a crap about their life stories? Why can't they just ask their questions and keep it moving? I considered asking him this, but recognised that it would only compound the problem. I dutifully turned my attention back to the map and described his journey to him, and then picked my suitcase up and walked off to take a seat and close my eyes for the 2 minutes before the arrival of the train.

Hearing heavy breathing in my ear, I looked up to see Mr W sitting beside me. "Can I help you with something?" I asked, genuinely alarmed that there are parts of this world where someone walking away from you is not enough of a hint that she doesn't want to talk to you. "Sister" he replied, " You don't have to be hostile, I just want to know you". By this point, I'd had it up to here with men who are old enough to be my father trying to tell me what mood I should or shouldn't be in. I was sorely tempted to flip him the bird, but recognised that even for me this might be a step too far, so I just ignored him and luckily for me, the train pulled into the station at that moment. The advantage of being a full foot and then some taller than Mr W was that he couldn't keep up with me as I bolted down the platform in an effort to grab a carriage as far away from him as possible. As I sat down and put my earplugs in, the carriage doors closed and I felt pleased with myself for accomplishing my mission. I was looking forward to a journey without any interruptions when I felt a shadow over my face, and looked up to see Mr W standing over me. How sad was this dude? He had followed me through the carriages, and now sat down beside me " All I want is to get to know you better and maybe we can be good friends." I looked him square in the eye and told him that I had all the friends I needed, but undeterred he plowed on.

He spent about 15 minutes telling me how rich he was and how he normally would not be caught dead on the Tube, but today was a one off to avoid traffic. He told me all about how rich he was and how he was very lonely and was on his way to Nigeria to find a wife, but now that he had met me he was seriously reconsidering that decision. I couldn't help myself and started laughing out loud. He seemed genuinely puzzled by my laughter and wanted to know what was so funny, so I looked up at him " I find it really amusing that for the last 15 minutes you have been yammering on endlessly about god knows what after stalking me all over the Piccadilly Line and you are now under the ridiculous impression that we have actually met, you don't even know my name!"

I carried on laughing uncontrollably for a good 10 minutes and Mr W, no longer quite sure what to make of ,me or my sanity stood up and made his way back through the door connecting the carriage to the next one shaking his head. I can't be too sure, but I thought a heard him mutter an "Onyoshi" or "Onyara" under his breath. As soon as he was out of striking distance, I sat up put my music back in and continued my journey in peace.

The moral of the story: All the ladies who frequently have difficulty shaking the persistent (for want of a more insulting adjective) wankers who want to get to know you, try a spot of insanity once in a while. Works like a charm:)

Friday, December 15, 2006

The December Sojourn

Whew....I made it to the other side unscathed! Well, unscathed might be a bit of a stretch. I'm am still slightly traumatised by my journey over.

I am referring to the yearly trip across the Atlantic in December, traveling home for the holidays. There is nothing that I hate more than having to board a transatlantic flight in December. This is because it is guaranteed to give me all kinds of headaches, of the West African variety. I am one of those people who always catches the latest flight I can out of New York, in order to allow me to fall asleep at JFK and wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at Heathrow. This strategy works fine all year round until December rears it's head, and then all bets are off.

I found my seat on the lane with a fair amount of trepidation, but then noticed that both seats beside me and the one in front of me were empty. I heaved a sigh of relief, stowed my bags away and settled in prepared to sleep all the way to London. My bliss was short lived of course as two gentlemen soon walked up and claimed both seats next to mine. Still, I thought to myself, no need to assume the worst they probably want to sleep as badly as I do, after all it is midnight. But sadly, this was not to be the case. They introduced themselves to me and proceeded to tell me that they were on their way to Onitsha and Abuja respectively. 'That's nice' I said before popping my earplugs in and turning on my ipod in the hope that this would dissuade them from further attempts at familiarity. But of course, Nigerians are a resilient breed and all hopes of them taking the hint were dashed when the Mr X sitting beside me demanded to know why I was heading to London and not Nigeria. For a moment, I entertained the idea of telling him to shut up and leave me alone, but I am still hard-wired to show respect, even when people are seriously pissing me off!

I explained that I was spending the holidays with my family in London, and then for good measure threw in some information about how tired I was and finished it off with a dramatic yawn. This ought to have shut even the most pig-headed of people up, but Messrs X and Y were not to be deterred, and they went on some riff about youth of today and how they were losing touch with their roots. I simply nodded along and then just when it looked like they might just take the hint and bugger off, a new challenger entered the arena. Mr W who had taken his seat in front of me at some point without my noticing piped up. 'It is true, the young ones are the same in Ghana. Young lady, you should really have a better appreciation of your heritage.' I would have been able to let it go, had he not had the audacity to turn round and wag his finger in my face.

'I'm sorry, Messrs X, Y and Z......What have you done for your countries lately? Are you going back to be with your families or to demonstrate that you are big boys? Are you going back to give to your communities or to spend you 419 wealth in Saipan and Churrascos? Are you going back to encourage people to forge ahead or to attempt to put them down with your ill-gotten gains. If you are so abominably rich, what are you doing sitting back here in cattle-class with me? Shouldn't you be up there in first-class sipping some champagne, lying on an individual seat where you will unable to torture anyone else with your perceived truisms?'

Taken aback, Mr X looks at me and immediately falls back on the standard response of your average West African male over the age of 30 when he knows that he has been verbally shown up by a woman, 'No wonder you are not married. Which man will want a wife who doesn't know how to talk to her elders?'

'To be quite honest Mr X, your opinion is of no consequence to me as I have no intention of ever marrying or even befriending anyone who exhibits symptoms of the level of crass stupidity and ignorance that you have just displayed!'

Damn that felt good....Watching them settle back into their seats with shock on their faces, all the while shaking their heads, I felt a surge of satisfaction so strong it must have shown on my face. I understand the importance of respecting my elders, but some people just need a good showing up. Needless to say, they didn't bother me for the rest of my flight.

Of course, the minute I disembarked at Heathrow, I was approached by Mr W on his way from Toronto to Lagos........... But that is another story for another day!