Alain’s ATM Rigmarole

Alain needs cash. We’ve been ATM hunting since yesterday, we must have visited a hundred machines between Ikoyi and Victoria Island but none of them is obliging us. They have no respect for Alain’s mastercard and visa card. We walked into one banking hall and asked if they could swipe his card and give cash across the counter. The first lady gets distracted by another (irate) customer, the next one stares at us like we are Martians threatening her with bodily harm.

Two security guards at two different banks tell us to “wait, they are working on the machines.” The machines too, they talk to us- they are not in the mood, they don’t like Alain’s face, didn’t we have better things to do than poking cards into machines all over the place? Twenty five ‘mega’ banks, making all that noise about branches all over the world and they can’t facilitate a simple transaction like drawing cash from an account domiciled abroad? Finally, one of the first machines we had approached changes its mind and says to Alain as he slots in his visa card- “I just dey pity you o, because you resemble my cousin for Brazzaville.” It spits out the money with a rude hiss and we dash off with the stash in case the thing changes its mind.

At the Jazzhole, Alain picks up a couple of CDs, a couple of back issues of Glendora Review and then decides to buy a copy of that big picture book on Lagos also published by Glendora- Lagos, a city at work, but he doesn’t have enough cash to cover it. He tries to pay electronically but the POS machine rolls its eyes at us and says- “We’ve heard about you guys…una don come again, una no get work, abeg make una no disturb me o, na my lunch break be this.” We fret and we plead with the darn thing but it wouldn’t budge.

Meanwhile, Bolaji makes me flip when he loudly asks the lady at the till if they have St. Janet’s album. St. Janet- the lady who laced sexually explicit material in Yoruba over well known tunes associated with church hymns and got very popular at motor parks before the State Government put a lid on it? At Glendora- where ‘cultured’ music (i.e. Jazz et al) is sold at $10 to $20 (Naija Mix CDs sell for $1 on the street)?

Oblivious to the incongruity of his request, he asks again. I suggest to him that he might be asking in the wrong shop. The lady is still trying to seduce cash out of the POS by fingering it with Alain’s card. The outraged machine has decided to maintain a dignified silence. When the lady tries to help by telling us to try at the nearest ATM where the network might be better, we run for cover… We drive to O’jez bar at the national stadium to watch the Brazil – Netherlands match instead. You can mail the book to me later, Alain says.

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