Saturday, April 7, 2012
In less than 30minutes, with the Branch Manager overseeing the entire thing, I got my money back! Elated, I walked out of the banking hall, humming a tune and feeling rather satisfied with myself. All was alright with the world until I got a call from Juliet O. several hours later - "Ah, Enkay, I got the alert but when I went to the bank they said there was no money there..." Suddenly I began to feel sorry for her. I had promised to send her something and she was there in another city probably stranded. The earnestness in her voice made me feel ashamed of my thoughts earlier. Juliet O. had been instrumental to the increased response we had received so far towards the planning of our reunion and there I was thinking she wanted to scam me. "Em..yes...the branch where I paid the money had some technical issues just be patient, it would be resolved..." I lied.
Juliet O. called me several times over the next few days and she did a good job of pestering me without outrightly seeming to be. I cannot explain it. The voice on the other end of the line was appealing and begging without the kind of groveling that would have put me off. Juliet O. was giving facts and figures of this business deal of hers and how it was just this sum that was required to seal it all off. Eventually, I succumbed. I went o another branch of the bank a few days later and paid in the money and as I did so, my heart sank. Somehow, I suspected that I had been scammed but it seemed I was powerless in the matter.
As you may have guessed by now, the story went down hill from there.
1 week after the deadline Juliet O. gave for returning the money my suspicion was gradually becoming fact.
Juliet O. picked my every call and with that mousy voice of hers, gave one excuse after the other. But I was patient. A few days later, Juliet O. called to tell me she finally had the money and could I re-send my account details? I could hardly believe my ears! I was going to get my money back! I waited endlessly for the credit alert but it never came. This was a Friday. I was unable to reach Juliet O. until the following Monday. She was sniffing and sounded like someone who had been crying. I knew it was yet another tale but nothing prepared me for what Juliet O. told me next.
According to her, she had spent the entire weekend in a police cell. Inwardly, I slapped my palms together in that way a Nigerian woman would when she meant to say "Wonders shall never end" in an incredulous manner.
"On my way to the bank, that Friday, a little girl was crossing the street on her way from school and it all happened so fast, I ran over her..." her voice trailed off.
"Ah! My God, that's terrible!" I exclaimed. Surely no one would tell lies with such a thing?
Juliet O. found her voice again ..."We rushed to the hospital and I spent all the money I had....." I rolled my eyes, yeah right, so that was where my money went eh?
Just so I didn't sound like an unfeeling debt collector I asked "But the little girl is going to be okay?".
At that question, Juliet O. let out a sob that made me cringe "...no, the girl died last night..."
Juliet was really crying now and I was the one consoling her. This wahala she had got herself into seemed like it was far greater than whatever amount of money she owed me. I just could not imagine being responsible for the death of a little girl.
Just before the call ended, Juliet O. started saying something about getting my money to me somehow, I cut in and told her to take as much time as she needed.
In the mean time, the plans for the reunion were underway and a meeting had been scheduled with Senior Amina Bello (She had successfully held a reunion in the London a few years before). Another Committee member Tola Peters* who was a set below Juliet O. was to attend the meeting with me.
At the meeting I mentioned to Tola Peters that Juliet O. was in big trouble. "How so?" she asked.
"She had an accident in which a little girl was run over. She was the one driving...."
Tola smiled sadly "Hmm, yes. It was really a tough time for Juliet O."
I nodded "The little girl died"
Tola looked alarmed "She died?!" I nodded yes.
"Ah, all I heard was that the little girl's family had Juliet arrested and that they planned to take Juliet's daughter away from her..."
Tola seemed so familiar with Juliet O's story but the incident only just happened....wait a minute, Juliet has a daughter too?
"Em, Tola, when exactly did this accident of Juliet's happen?" I asked, my heartbeat racing.
Tola looked up at the ceiling as though mentally calculating. "That should be 7years ago now...ah she called to ask me for money saying that she needed to pay some hospital bills...."
I was no longer listening to Tola....
It suddenly dawned on me that Juliet O.was indeed a Professional Con and I had just been scammed. Big time!
By the time Senior Amina Bello joined us, she wanted to know what it was we were talking about that had me looking so crestfallen.
We told her. And that was when I revealed that I had given Juliet O. some money for a business deal.
"Haba! So you mean you people have not heard the Juliet O. story?!"
That was when Senior Amina started telling us the Legend of Juliet O.
Monday, March 26, 2012
Somehow, it fell to me to contact as many of our old classmates as I could reach but in the process of doing that, school mates of other classes and graduating years suggested that we expand the scope of the reunion. It seemed daunting but the challenge of actually helping to organize a national reunion of old school mates for the first time in almost 30years was too exciting to pass up!
That was how it started. I made calls, sent text messages, contacted old school mates via Facebook, sent emails, created a Facebook page, a Yahoo!groups mailing list and even a website...phew!
The pace was slow at first but gradually, I started getting some people's attention.
We started constituting the various committees and there were quite a number of volunteers. However, there was one volunteer that stood out. Her name is Juliet O. Her enthusiasm was particularly infectious and because of her, we got increased participation. She shared her experience when she catered for the alumni association of another unity school like ours and how it was so much fun. She offered to cater for us at a very reduced cost and even offered to help get us a venue free of charge.
When the issue of fund raising came up, we asked for suggestions. Most of us agreed that everyone who planned to attend should pay a fee but we would also need to source for funds from several corporate entities as well. Juliet O. rose to the occasion. She informed everyone that she had connections with Indomie, Bournvita, Cowbell etc and that they had sponsored some of her events before. According to her, it would be easy to enlist their support for our worthy cause.
Ah, with all these assurances from Juliet O, our event was well underway. After several weeks of discussing online, we finally made real time contact via conference call. I was going to be hearing the voices of my committee members, some for the first time after over 15years.
And so it was that the call was set-up. It was delightful to have about 60% of the team join in. Juliet O. had to leave her choir practice to join us. The session was quite interactive and Juliet O., her voice turned out to be a bit sing-songy and soft, even offered her humble home to accommodate invitees coming in from other cities and who could not afford to pay hotel bills for the reunion weekend. We had decided on the date for the reunion and we had only 7months to plan.
After that conference call. Everyone was gingered up. We got even more volunteers and we were able to set up a meeting with one of our seniors, Amina Bello* who had held a reunion in London successfully. Not only would she give us guidance, she was a very important link to other old girls who graduated from the school even before we ourselves enrolled in Primary school. It was important that the reunion covered as many sets as possible so that it would have the kind of credibility we sought.
I was riding on the wave of this excitement when I got a call from Juliet O. a few days after that tele-conference. She called to say she had finally convinced a friend of hers who owns a hotel to give us huge discounts on room rates if we decided to use one of their event halls. We spoke about this for a few minutes when her voice dropped to a mere whisper. I strained to hear her. She was a bit hesitant but she managed to inform me that she was actually calling for personal reasons. She needed me to loan her some money for one catering job she had to carry out that weekend and I could have my money back in like a week. I stopped short. I told her I didn't have that kind of money but I would think about it. I was going to call her back.
I spent the next few hours considering my options. Since Juliet O. was such an important part of our reunion plans it might not be a bad idea to assist her in her time of need. And since she was such a connected caterer/events manager, we really could use her help. Besides, once her event was over, I would get my money back.
That was how I made up my mind to give her an amount close to half of what she asked for and even this was quite a substantial amount of money. I had some disposable cash and some other monies. Suddenly, I was in a hurry to pay the money into her account. It was as though I was in a daze. The deal was transacted and I held the teller slip in my hand. That was when it suddenly hit me. How much do you know this Juliet O? Did you even try to verify any of her claims? Do you know where she lives? What if she doesn't pay you back like she said?
Suddenly, like a crazed woman, I rushed back into the banking hall.
"Madam, madam, please...!" I was panting, waving the teller slip at the Teller at counter 1.
"I paid the money into the wrong account! Wrong Account!!"
Everyone on the queue just stood there staring at me.
The Teller peered at me from the top of her glasses. I remember thinking to myself, don't they employ young, smart tellers anymore? The woman seemed to be in her mid-forties and this was a new generation bank.
"Ah, madam, I have posted it o! We cannot call it back". She spoke slowly in that irritating, I-don't-care manner.
"Please where is your manager? I want to speak with your Manager...it was the wrong account!" I was frantic. My money was about to get lost! Or even stolen!
The teller reluctantly pointed towards a row of offices on her left and I dashed into the first one on the row..."Your Manager, Please where is your Manager's office?" I blurted. The young man looked up with a concerned look on his face. He half stood up while he directed me to the office three doors from his. I was backing out when I ran into another gentle man. I didn't even look up as I quickly apologised and started walking away.
"Madam wait!" It was the man who had just given me directions. I stopped and there he was at the door of his office holding the upper arm of the man I had just bumped into. "This is the man you want to see". He was smiling. "This is our Branch Manager".
What a relief. The Branch Manager had a kind face and not once did he interrupt me as I tried to explain how I managed to pay such a large sum of money into the wrong account. And not once did he look at me disapprovingly. At the end of my narrative he simply led me to his office, gave me a pen and paper with instructions on what details to provide.
"Don't worry madam, we'll get your money back"
Ah, what a relief!
But that relief was only short lived. Juliet O. was bent on collecting my money and collect it she did!
* Not her real name
Friday, March 16, 2012
I am lifting my face to the virtual wind and breathing deeply..... Hmmm-aaah! Do you hear that? It's that 'whoosh' sound you hear when the wind comes rushing into the room through an open window on a cool, windy evening.
After 2 years, I have once again against all odds come by this blog home of mine. The task was daunting 'cos there were thick swabs of cobwebs everywhere, the dust must have been at least 1mm thick and the smell, oh the smell! That musty and near-dank smell that permeates a room that has neither seen the light of day nor felt the benefits of ventilation.
Ah! But after a few hours of hard work, the open windows can finally let in the cool breeze and this blog can finally have a breath of fresh air! Hmmm. I am basking in it. The freshness and newness of it all. oh, you didn't notice I changed my template and tweaked a few things here and there? Alright, I forgive you. It's not like it's your fault anyway. I was the one who abandoned blogville.
That brings me round to the question, "Is Enkay back for good?". Er, that's a tough one to answer just yet.
But I am so loving the zingy feeling I have got from spending the last few days 'snooping' around blogville and finally getting the courage to open my good old blog-doors, rolling up my sleeves and digging into the work.
I had almost forgotten just how good it felt to be here.
Many, Many thanks to all my Blogfriends who came around to check on me - Olufunke, No Limit, BSNC, Aloted, Original Mgbeke, Rose, even Lady Guide sef!
Thanks for the love!
So let's see how it goes eh?