Saturday, June 9, 2012

Conning the Conman

A while back, during Hunger Week, we stopped at our favorite
restaurant in Kaabong to have our lunch of posho and beans. The place
is called Riverside Restaurant, owned and operated by Bantu folks from
further south. It's a classic dining experience with filthy walls and
tables, flies buzzing around your head and food, and people staring at
you through the open door. But the food is good, cheap, and very fast.

Anyway, we were seated at a table just inside the door, on the left.
As we were digging into our grub, a tall, smiling (probably
inebriated) Ugandan man interrupted me, making quite a commotion. He
took my hand and shook it vigorously and wouldn't let go. He said how
happy he was to see me (his good friend). This show goes on for a
little while, and finally he asks me if I know who he is, and I say
no. By this time I'm mostly bemused but bordering on annoyed. (We
often have complete strangers coming up to us acting like we're bosom
buddies or something. If you know me, you know I really can't stand
that.)

So just as his reputation and chances of getting something from me
(his best friend who's strangely forgotten who he is...) are in
danger, he kindly offers to buy something. Come again? Yes, he wants
to buy me something. What? Yes, he says, gesturing magnanimously
toward the wall where a number of products were being sold off the
shelves. I quickly scan the shelves. There is bottled water for 1500
shillings ($.60), soft drink for 2000 shillings ($.80), and mango
juice for 5500 shillings ($2.20). "Okay, mango juice," I say.

The waiter brings the box of juice over to the man who has just pulled
out a 2000 shilling note. He asks how much the juice costs, and as the
waiter tells him the price, he has to reach into his pocket for more
money while everyone else in the restaurant bursts out laughing. Wow,
I think, I just got a complete stranger to buy me a box of juice that
is worth an entire day's wage for unskilled manual labor. Cool! And
for no reason at that! Even better.

Then, the guy, now having lost the sloppy smile and looking a bit
overcommitted, asks me if I'm going to Kalapata. Oh, so that's it! He
wants a ride! No, I say, I'm not going to Kalapata, but I can drop him
off at the junction (I had no other passengers at this point). I tell
him and his wife or sister or whoever it was (hopefully not one and
the same person, though I thought he used both titles) to meet us back
here in 15 minutes. So 15-20 minutes later, I drive back through there
very slowly and even park to see if he's around. Nope. Okay, we're
outta here!

And so ends the story of how I conned the conman as he was trying to
con me into giving him a ride, which worked, even though he never
showed.

3 comments:

Notinthewild said...

A very Terrill-ish tale withal. :)

ChadandRachel said...

Points for conning

and for the word "withal."

lizabeth said...

Hello,

I am in the US, but have been helping a community in western Kenya that is developing a rabbit-raising project there, for meat and pelts. It's been a rewarding experience and I have been wondering if other African communities would benefit from it as well. Rabbits can be pastured so are relatively low-cost animals, they reproduce quickly, can be cared for by children, and rabbit is one of the healthiest meat sources. If you are interested I am happy to send you more information. Contact me at lizabeth231@hotmail.com <- note that's 231 not 321 or 123!

Since learning about your mission through Wycliffe, I have kept you in prayer!