FORGETFULNESS can be costly in wasted time, inconvenience, lost opportunities and so on and so forth. SIMON MWALE narrates how he and his wife were stranded in a car park because someone who blocked their vehicle forgot a lot of things on that day. Read on…
AS 2014 came to a close, my wife decided to go and see her business friend at one of the government ministries in Lusaka and she asked me to accompany her. The friend runs a canteen.
When we got there, the friend offered us lunch, which was very welcome as we’d been too busy in pursuit of ‘thamanga’ that day to find time for a meal. After my wife and her friend shared whatever they had to discuss for the day, it was time for us, my wife and me, to go back home.
We’d parked our vehicle in the ministry’s car park, but when we got to the vehicle, in the rain that had been pouring for over 30 minutes now, we found another car parked, not parallel to, but in front of ours, literally blocking us. Since we didn’t know the driver, we asked passersby if they could help us trace the owner so we could pull out.
We asked three or four people, who we thought were employees of the ministry, but it appeared they weren’t and none of them had a clue. Presently, though, a gentleman in a dark suit walked by our vehicle and when I turned my head, I discovered that he was someone I knew, my former student at one of the universities in Lusaka. He also recognised me at once.
“Mr…(name withheld) how are you?” I said.
“I am very fine and how are you my lecturer? What brings you here” he exclaimed excitedly.
“I’m well, thanks. How’s work?” I conveniently deflected the last part of his question as I considered it inconsequential.
I introduced my wife to him after he said all was well and he was pleased to meet her.
Without much ado, I quickly broached the subject of our being held ‘hostage’ by the car in front of ours and that we were looking for its owner. Fortuitously, he said the car was, in fact, his and he profusely apologised for keeping us waiting in suspense.
“Let me get my car keys from the office,” said the man, a Bemba, whose withheld name translates into “doing things fast.” He took about five minutes to and from his office and he was soon trying to open the passenger door after trying to insert the key.
The key he’d collected was a wrong one; it was for a different car and for someone else.
“I’m sorry, it seems I picked the wrong key. Let me go and check again,” he said, much to our increasing disappointment, indignation and frustration because we’d been sitting for close to one and a half hours doing nothing in the car as the rain persistently poured outside.
The man came back panting, but as fate would have it, with yet another shocker!
He could not trace the key from his desk. Apparently, his car key was bunched together with the keys to the toilet and someone had apparently gone to attend to nature. The man was the custodian of the keys to the gents’ toilet. But, it turned out; no one had taken the key to the toilet!
After jogging his memory, the man remembered that the key he’d brought at first must belong to some people he had earlier attended to in his office who mistakenly picked his from his desk. The people had since left-ages ago!
“I’m very sorry, Sir. Let me see if I can call them. I really don’t know what is happening,” he said almost lost for words. I told him to take it easy because such things happened in life. He made frantic efforts to call and he wasn’t getting through.
Then, out of frustration, he went back to his car and, surprise of all surprises, tried to open the door and, believe you me, it opened! We had been waiting for two hours now when this happened.
“Didn’t you know the car was open all along?” I asked with a little exasperation tinged with joy.
“I really don’t know what is happening today. I forgot that I had not locked my car. I’m very sorry once again for keeping you waiting this long,” he said as he got inside the car, put the gear lever in neutral mode and summoned help to push the car away.
Our relief, my wife’s and mine, was palpable. And so was our man’s. We left the premises wondering whether his mobile phone did not keep telling him, “the number you have dialed is either outside the coverage area or has their phone switched off!”
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