The Taker

The road is free today. On most weekdays, cars would be bumper to bumper on this route, with hawkers begging to have their wares bought. I look around me, I don’t see any of them. I had a long day at work today.  I would have driven straight home as I always do, but I have decided to head to my girlfriend, Tara’s house to get some good loving and pampering. I deserve it after the stress I went through at the office. 

I can not say in honesty that Tara is someone I love, of course she thinks I love her. She is someone I need to date for a while for the company. I’ll let her go once I’m ready to truly find my future partner.

As for today’s meeting with her, in her usual fashion, I know she is going to ask me for some money, so I have to go somewhat prepared. It’s just, I don’t have any cash on me right now. I would just need to keep an eye out for an ATM machine on my drive.

Or better still, look for one of those ubiquitous local money dispensing service shops, POS. That will be faster. I keep driving for a while, but don’t see either an ATM or POS stand. I decided to slow down and ask a passerby where I can find the nearest POS stand. She told me to go into the street at the next turn to find the nearest one. I thank her and resume driving according to her directions.

I find myself in an untarred street. From a distance, I can already see a wooden sign with POS boldly printed on it. I drive right to the front of the sign and park. On getting out of my car and looking around, it’s just a regular street. It appears I’ve found myself in the poverty ridden section of town, judging by the condition of the houses and the stares some of the residents are giving me and my car. I’m worthy of stares, after all, I’m clearly superior to them. I shake my head as I face what brought me here. 

In front of the POS sign is a wooden kiosk painted green, with a counter-like opening. In it is a man who appears to be in his sixties. He looks rather unkempt, dusty and tired. His eyes sagging like he needs some sleep. He appears to be attending to two people. A younger man comes out from behind the kiosk and asks him to make sure everything runs smoothly and close up once it is 7pm.  The man leaves on a motorcycle. Looks like that’s his boss.

While I’m waiting for my turn, I notice another kiosk beside the POS stand, selling an assortment of finger food. The aroma of the puff-puff they have frying is distracting and I decide to get some. I go over to buy some puff-puff, along with a Pepsi. I drop them in my car and salivate in anticipation of how I’ll devour it on my drive to Tara’s house. I go back to the POS stand and see that the man is free to attend to me. 

“Hello sir, how much you want withdraw?” He asks.

“Just 30,000 Naira,”

“Okay. I charge you 600 Naira for withdrawal fee. We do am 100 Naira per 5000 Naira withdrawal”

“That’s fine,” I say as I hand him my debit card. He picked up the POS machine and punched it several times. 

“Oga, password,” he said while stretching the machine to me. I collected it and inputted my card pin, before handing the machine back to him. The machine made a few beeps and printed out a receipt. The man crouched to what appears to be a bag hidden under the counter and counted out 30,000 Naira before handing it to me. I counted the money to confirm that it is complete and nod back at him. Then he handed me my receipt and thanked me. I thanked him back and hurried back to my car. I can’t afford to get robbed in this dirty neighborhood.

As I sit in my car, my stomach rumbled as soon as I saw the puff-puff. I throw three puff-puffs in my mouth at once and washed it down my throat with a gulp of Pepsi. Then I hear a ping. It’s my phone. I pick it up with my oily hand, and see a debit alert from my bank. It’s a debit for 3,600 Naira. That does not make sense as I didn’t make any transaction worth 3,000 Naira today, unless—. I pick the receipt the POS attendant had given me and looked at the amount on it. I could not believe my eyes when I saw 3,600 Naira on it. My mouth parted in surprise. 

I glance at the kiosk to see the old man attending to a new customer. This is insane. He made the mistake of undercharging my card. I look him up and down. What is an old man doing, working such a menial job anyway, when his peers are probably retired? He looks dirty and most assuredly poor. Poor boy, at the end of the day, when he tries to close the books he would realize he’s short of 27,000 naira. Worse still, he would have to account for this loss to his boss; probably get fired and have to pay back the debt to his boss.

 Oh well, not my problem. My gain, his loss. That should teach him a lesson not to repeat such a mistake next time.  “I hate stupid people.” I mutter under my breath as I turn the key in the ignition and zoom off.

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