Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dodging the Polish Mafia

My week thus far has been consumed by encounters with the Polish Mafia. Is Monef okay? Is there is hit out on her? Is someone waiting to whack her with a kielbasa, I hear you ask? Not to fear, my Naija vexing is stronger than their Polish posturing. This all came about because I attempted to do that most straightforward of things, purchase a service.

My closest friend in NYC is moving apartments, and as that is always a tragic experience that should never be endured solo, I pitched in to help her out. The movers that I generally use were unavailable, so I took a dive into craigslist and hired the first available lot that looked like a regular price. Not an amazing bargain, but not overtly extortionate. That nice middle of the road territory that usually guarantees you safety, $60 per hour for two men with a van. We didn’t have much to move; a bed, a couch, a chest of drawers, a TV with stand and a bunch a miscellaneous boxes and bags. Two stops were scheduled, one in downtown Manhattan and one in Green point, Brooklyn. The whole exercise should have taken 1.5 to 2 hours at the most which is why I was fuming when 2 hours into the proceedings the half-wits were still loading the van and we hadn’t even made it to the first stop yet.

I decided to make it very clear to mover number 1 that he wasn’t dealing with a mugu:

Monef: Why on earth is it taking you guys so long to load this van?
Mover 2: Don’t talk to me, I am only here to help my friend out, it is his job.
Monef: Mover 1, why on earth is it taking you guys so long to load this van?
Mover 1: We are going to get it done. What is your problem?
Monef: Don’t even dream of copping an attitude with me mate, I am paying you for a service and out agreement does not include you mouthing off or taking the piss.
Mover 1: What does ‘taking the piss mean’?
Monef: All you have to do is observe yourself to get the gist of the matter. Anyway, I am not prepared to pay you to dilly-dally all day. It has taken you two hours to do 30 mins of work. This is unacceptable.
Mover 1: Okay fine, I will do better but I cannot get all this stuff into my van. Can you call a cab to carry the rest to Manhattan?

At this point rather than get huffy I figured I would just call the cab. And so we set out, in a mini convoy off to the storage facility. This was the least stressful part of the whole experience, and I should have known that it was not too last. At the facility whilst filling out the paperwork, Mover 1 decides to engage me in conversation yet again, and it went a little something like this:

Mover 1: So do you like Polish guys?
Monef: I like everybody, I am quite the open-minded chick.
Mover 1:But do you date Polish guys?
Monef: I haven’t dated any Polish guys so far, and trust me that is not about to change today.
Mover 1: But why? I am a nice guy.
Monef: You have got to be bloody kidding me. Can you get on with what you are here to do?

Mover 1 then makes some pretence at actually doing some work but within 10 minutes he is back again chatting away. He tells me all about how he was in Atlantic City gambling his life away when I called him and how he had to spend $50 on gas just to get back into town. My immediate thought is that this guy is having a laugh if he thinks that I am going to offset the costs of his debauchery. He then pays scrupulous attention to the cost of the storage facility and takes note of the neighbourhood that we are headed to afterwards:

Mover 1: So you live in Greenpoint?
Monef: Yes.
Mover 1: That is a really expensive place to live. I guess you are a high maintenance kind of girl.
Monef: I’m not quite sure what you are getting at, but if I have to tell you to keep it moving one more time it might get a bit Ajegunle up in this place.
Mover 1: What is Ajegunle?
Monef: Hiiiiiissssssssss.

By the time this whole shebang is over and done with and we are ready to move on to the next stop, Mover 1 comes up to me and tells me that everything so far has taken 3.5 hours and he wants $210 now before heading to the final stop. At this point I lose my rag. This mofo has done less than 2 hours work and wants me to pay him for 3.5 because he thinks that I am made of Benjamins? He is messing with the wrong girls. My friend and I tell him this and make it clear to him that we are not about to let him cheat us, at which point he decides that he is not releasing the rest of our stuff and he is not finishing the job. This of course leads to a Mexican standoff without the guns. Movers 1 & 2 set up shop in their van and my friend and I perch on a stoop while we proceed to see who blinks first for the next two hours. Yes, you read right…2 hours.

Eventually the NYPD swing by and attempt to negotiate, but the movers are having none of it. They insist on unloading the rest of the stuff there on the street and driving off. This seems like a bizarre choice to make, seeing as non-completion of the job will not elicit payment, but apparently that was what worked for them. And so my friend and I flag down a cab, get as much of the stuff as we can in and head home. Upon arriving at my place, whilst unloading this cab, who should happen to drive by but the movers? THE BASTARDS FOLLOWED ME HOME!!!! Heeeeeelllll no!

Fortunately, I have a picture of their license plate number and the NYPD came round again to check things out and make sure that they didn’t hang around. That said, Greenpoint is an extremely Polish neighbourhood, so for the time being I am spending my days (and nights) looking out for the Polish Mafia. I have of course warned them that they don’t want to see my Naija madness. I wasn’t kidding when I said things would get Ajegunle. If I have to, I will head out to Utica and grab some Oshodi boys to throw into the mix. They must be missing the area boy activity they engaged in back home, so I’m sure a good tussle would be welcome.

Moral of the story: All you sheisty craigslist movers out there, who are looking to cheat people, don’t mess with a Naija babe. I can smell your dodginess from a mile away and I refuse to be conned by the likes of you.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Stop procrastinating, read your book. I'll be thinking of you enjoying the rain while I lounge in the sun...:)

Friday, May 04, 2007

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Me

1. I am an obsessive alphabetiser. I can be a rather messy person, but I am very particular about the numbers and letters. I catalogue almost everything I own both numerically and alphabetically. I find it quite soothing, and it gives me a sense of accomplishment but it tends to drive most people bonkers. My entire CD, DVD and book collection is painstakingly arranged in numerical and alphabetical order and I flip out if anyone disrupts the order. On the other hand every time I open my wardrobe, I fling all the clothes and shoes out in all directions! I have also been known from time to time to listen to my music in alphabetical order. Sad, I know.

2. I am a free association maven. My chain of thought tends to be very tangential and as a result, conversations with me can sometimes become akin to solving a crossword puzzle as I pick up threads and drop them with seeming randomness. There is usually a link running through them all, the sort of chaotic pattern that can only be determined after spending a reasonable amount of time in my world.

3. I hate chocolate. I do not share the obsession that the female population of this world seems to have with chocolate. It is too sweet, too rich and quite frankly far too pointless to warrant further discussion.

4. I love Britney Spears. For this travesty I have neither explanation nor recourse. I just like her, I can’t really say why. No matter what utter level of trashiness she sinks too, I cannot help but root for her. I’m not sure what that says about me, but hey there are worse things right?

5. I am a trivia queen. I have no idea what I did before Wikipedia cam into my life, and I don’t want to bother remembering. I read magazines painstakingly from cover to cover going through every article (I hate it when people just look at the pictures!) whether it is the Economist or Heat!

6. I am a certified cry-baby. Everything makes me cry I am just very good at hiding it. Certain songs make my eyes mist over whenever they pop up on my ipod, and I always take tissues to the movies cos you never know. As for day-to-day life, I get lots of dust in my eye as frequently as I can, plus my aura of confidence has people convinced that there is no way those could be tears in my eyes.

7. I hate Erykah Badu. Again, like the Britney thing, there is no logical explanation for this. She checks all the boxes, and judging by the rest of my taste in music I should really love her stuff, but for some reason she leaves me cold. I do love the fact that despite the most ardent efforts of the music industry to tell me otherwise, I cannot be programmed to like something.

8. I am an ITK (for all you non-Nigerians, translates as: know it all). I think I have been an ITK since the day I was born, and that is never going to change. In primary school, the popular girls’ cliques used to refer to me as ‘the dictionary’ with the intent of hurting my feelings. I found that quite amusing and thanked them for advertising my intelligence so I didn’t have to. My closest friend in NYC always refers to me with the catchphrase ‘too much book’. I love it!

9. I enjoy my own company far too much. I love spending time with Monef, observing how she has changed over time and revisiting her old haunts and pastimes. It isn’t necessarily something that I do too often (my mother always tells me that loners are losers, but I refuse to listen) but when I do, I always wonder what took me so long. *I know it is indulgent to refer to myself in the 3rd person but it felt appropriate!

10. I care far more about what other people think of me than I am willing to let on. Oh well, I guess the cat is out of the bag on that one, I am no different from most people in the sense that I just want to be loved.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Spring Is In The Air

Umm….why did I spend 6 hours at the salon yesterday??!! Rage. There are times when I hate being a woman. Of course, on the plus side I can now look in the mirror without being frightened by what I see. Plus 4 guys told me how gorgeous I was on the way to work this morning, which is a new record for me. So I will make my peace with the precious hours lost to the curling tongs and move on:)

On the plus side, things are looking up weather wise in NYC. Spring is in effect and there are cherry blossoms galore popping up all over the city. The skirts are getting shorter, the tops are getting smaller and nail studios are doing brisk business again. This is my favourite time of the year, when you have months of endless sunshine stretched out before you like a blank canvas, waiting to be filled with scenes of bliss, pleasure and contentment. The walk home from work is made far more pleasurable by the smells of barbecues, the ringing of laughter and the sight of the cold frosty glasses of beer and margaritas on the tables littering the sidewalks outside cafes.
Brooklyn is a paradise in spring/summer. It feels like all is right with the world and nothing could possibly go wrong. Suddenly everybody seems gorgeous and filled with life. I think I am living in the wrong country if this is the effect that a simply change in weather has on me. When I step outside my apartment and into the sunshine, I am filled with a sensation akin to euphoria. That never happens to me in winter. Not even after the most beautiful snowfall (I really don’t care for snow), I always feel doomed in winter. Every problem becomes magnified x20 and every joy is tempered with the feeling that it might not last. I need my own private island, or at least a beach house (eyin guys, do you hear??!!)

However, I will take what I can get for now which is glorious days filled with excitement, relaxation and many frosty cocktails. A great reminder of all the reasons I moved to NYC in the first place.

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