I’m sure most women have stories about strange pick-up attempts but I suspect that Nigerian women (and maybe African women in general) have more. To put it politely, some guys have ‘liver’. That would be guts for any non-Nigerians out there. So here, in no particular order are some of the more bizarre and amusing encounters I’ve had over the years.
1) Soldier man (SM)
One evening, I was in the cafe at the station reading the evening paper and waiting for my train when I noticed some guy hanging around me. I raised my head to look at him and he opened with the question, ‘Are you Ghanaian?’ My response of no was met by a burst of swearing. ‘Effing hell, you look so effing Ghanaian’..bla, bla, bla. All the while this was going on, I was just looking at SM and thinking, ‘that’s very nice and all but I’d like to get back to my paper now thank you’. But I didn’t say this out loud. I just nodded politely and hoped he would notice that I was not responding to his little rant/speech. He caught himself eventually and started apologising for his language. Apparently, he was just back from a bush training exercise with his army buddies hence the foul language. Luckily for me (or so, I thought), it was time for my train to arrive so I said the usual stuff. You know the line, ‘it was nice meeting you but my train’s coming and I have to go now’. Imagine how I felt when SM smiled and said, ‘oh yeah, that’s my train too’. At this point, my first thought was OH DAMN but I was still smiling and internally working on an escape plan. We headed out of the cafe together and as soon as the train pulled up, I jumped in as fast as I could and headed straight for the first single empty seat I could find. Of course he couldn’t sit next to me so he found somewhere else in the same carriage for himself and his buddies. I relaxed into my chair thinking I had dodged the bullet there but SM was not done with me. About half-way into the journey, the train stopped for no reason in a tunnel. SM decided to use the toilet and on his way back, stopped by my seat and asked loudly enough for everyone to hear if he could call me sometime. It was so quiet in the carriage that you could hear a pin drop and I knew that everyone was listening even though they were pretending not to pay attention. My face was so hot; if I were lighter, it would have been bright red. Ooh, I hated him for putting me on the spot but I didn’t want to humiliate him and I ended up giving him my number knowing full well that I would turn off my phone at the first opportunity I got. I did just that when I got home and left my phone off for two and a half days. By the time I turned it back on he had flooded my voicemail with messages. I promptly identified his number so that I could avoid it. That afternoon, he called twice and of course I did not respond. He gave it some time and then called again on a different number. This time I managed to get rid of him by making vague references to my father who would lose his temper if he knew that his under-18 daughter was being chatted up by a soldier.
2) Supermarket stalker (SS)
My unfortunate inability to make a quick getaway from over-persistent guys is a recurring theme in these stories. This encounter took place in a supermarket on a day when all I wanted was to get in and out as soon as possible. It was late in the afternoon and I had barely eaten that day because I had run out of groceries so my plan was to stop at the shop after school, pick up food and get home quickly to make dinner before I expired of hunger. I noticed SS looking in my direction almost as soon as I entered the shop but I didn’t think anything of it and went on with my shopping. 15 minutes later, I was on my way to pay but for some reason decided to stop by the wines/spirits aisle to see if they had a particular drink. I wasn’t even going to buy it so I’m not sure why I did that. Well you’ll never guess who I ran into in that aisle. Yes, it was SS. He started with the usual pick-up lines but my hungry self wasn’t having it. I tried to back out of the conversation but this man wouldn’t let me. He parked his trolley in front of mine, blocking me so that I couldn’t exit the aisle. Alarmed, I started looking around for a member of staff I could call on for help. The guy must have realised at this point that he was scaring me and he got out of my way without saying a word. I thought my ordeal was over but of course, there was bound to be another twist.
I went outside with my shopping bags (they were heavy I might add) to wait for my bus which would normally show up every 5-10 minutes. But of course that day, it was delayed for 20 minutes. By the time it finally arrived I saw that SS was getting on the same bus. As if our exchange inside wasn’t enough, he approached me again this time offering to carry my shopping. I politely told him no because I did not want him to have any excuse to discover where I lived. I even got down a stop away from my actual bus stop to throw him off the scent. Desperate times…..
3) Airport boy wonder (ABW)
This guy accosted me at the arrivals section of the airport. Our flight had just landed from Nigeria and I was going to pick up my luggage. I had an important appointment (a big assessment) the next day and my mind was occupied with thoughts of how to efficiently spend my last prep day. The last thing I was interested in was some guy trying to chat me up. Seemingly out of nowhere ABW grabbed my trolley, engaged the brakes and wouldn’t let go until I agreed to go on a date with him. He wasn’t deterred by my telling him that I wouldn’t be in town the next day. His response was an offer to drive down to pick me up from wherever I was staying. I took his number and ‘agreed’ to give him a call. It was only later I realised that I could have sent him on a wild goose chase if I were so inclined. I’m pretty sure he would have gone to any address I gave him.
The One That Got Away (TOTGA)
This was another airport encounter for me. I was tired and hungry after a long flight so I decided to buy some snacks and a magazine before continuing on my way home. The cashier was a Nigerian guy and I suspected that he was going to try for conversation (because of the way he was sizing me up and because it was just the two of us in the store) but I was too weary to object. I thought I’d play nice and get out asap. To my surprise, I found something about him appealing and I was really enjoying our little chit-chat. So when he gave me his MSN address, I took it with every intention of getting in touch. Unfortunately, I had lost the small piece of paper on which he wrote it by the time I got home. I could have sworn I put it in the shopping bag with my receipt but I looked everywhere and didn’t find it. I hope he wasn’t too disappointed.