Monday, August 24, 2009

When Fears come true: Car Trouble at Midnight

I think I watch too many television series involving psychopaths, serial killers, ghouls and demons. Two of my favorites series are Criminal Minds which revolves around a group of FBI profilers chasing the criminally insane while the other is Supernatural which has two brothers driving across the US in search of really scary supernatural forces. Interestingly, these two series have both featured similar scenarios where a woman is driving along an abandoned, isolated, rural road deep in the night. As she drives along, she gets a flat tire. The distraught lady tries her phone and for some reason it is always out of network coverage area. She is always forced to get out of the car and attempt to change the tire when either:
1. A hooded person emerges from the darkness with a long butcher knife
2. A strange car pulls up and offers help and that's the last time the lady is seen alive

So as I headed home alone last Friday around midnight, you can imagine my shock and horror when my car engine stalled after I hit a speed bump. It all happened when I was making the steep descent outside Can-West heading towards the railway line that divides Airport Residential area and Dzorwulu. I managed to reach the bottom of the hill and parked in the darkness on one side of the road. I started the car again and it would not spark! So I reached for my phone and realised that I deserved the 'Genius of Year award' because the whole day I had had silly conversations on both my mobile phones and completely run all my credit down. *Yikes*

I thought about leaving my car there overnight...the only problem being that by the next morning I would have been likely to find that my car had proved useful for anyone looking for free (well-worn) tires, a cellotaped-down dodgy car radio and a battery.
As I sat in the darkness contemplating my next move, a dark-coloured pick-up pulled to a stop in front of me. The images of my car being stripped down were rapidly replaced with picture of a dimly-lit room where my body parts were being cut into small parts and being separated into plastic bags to be sold for juju charms. Out of the car emerged a nice-looking man dressed all in white. White like an angel but I was still very suspicious. For this narrative we will call him 'Man X'. Man X asked politely if I needed help and I nodded desperately as my adrenaline levels started to rise. He tried my car engine and alas, it was very much still dead. He went over to get a rock to hold something steady but me being a little paranoid imagined the rock being the blunt instrument that was about to knock me out cold. So I moved over to stand by the roadside making a call with shaky hands as some woman on the line told me "You have no call credit!"

Man X went over to his truck and took out a short rope...
At that point paranoia really took over and I found myself hailing down a passing taxi. The driver stopped and I realised what a ridiculous thing I was doing especially since Man X was trying to help me so waved him on. In the end, my good samaritan concluded that the only way to deal with the predicament was to tow me home. However...
Problem number 1: The rope he had (which was not to tie me up) was too short and not standard issue for towing.
Problem number 2: The Ghana Police Service night patrols may also agree that it was illegal to be towing a car with such a rope and
would as we say in Ghana "worry us"

Man X tied up the cars and we set off...all I had to do was watch the brakes and steer...Problem Number 1 was okay and
it was all working pretty out well when Problem number 2 set in. Very close to my home in Dzorwulu, Ghana Police Service officers were hot on our heels in full pursuit. They flagged us down full of glee. Man X got out of his truck and explained the scenario and informed the officers that he did not even know me. I confirmed that this was the first time I had set eyes on him and that he had actually saved me from a potentially dodgy situation.

The police were not having it. They said I should have called a tow truck.
"A tow Wha??? At that time of the night??" I thought "Where the @#$#@%$@ is that number anyway?" After extensively searching my car, they told me that it was an offense so what was I going to do?...

In the end, the nice officers understood..Well, the understanding came after I gave them a small token for a soft drink. They allowed me to
be towed home and were helpful enough to follow us from behind for the rest of the way. I just hope mini-buses brim full of armed robbers were not whizzing by as they provided an escort for me home.

It was only when I got home that I found out Man X's name. His rope was ruined but he refused to take any money to replace it., Last Friday night, this good samaritan really restored my faith in the goodness of Ghanaians. The most annoying part of the whole story was that after Man X had left, I started the car and it sparked without a problem! I wish I had tried the car earlier...before we ran into the cops!

12 comments:

Edward: said...

"small token for a soft drink" hmmmmmmmm. This is what I would call "noko fio"

Abena said...

*LOL* Edward, Unfortunately I think "noko fio" is the unofficial slogan for the Ghana police...

Anonymous said...

Wow Abena, it seems you always "manage" to have a run in with Ghana Police. He he

Kwegyirba said...

Yikes, Abena, won't wanna trade places with you(and your overactive imagination!) Hehehe. Plus I'm especially scared of the dark so fear would have paralysed me! Thank God you got home safe!

Maya Mame said...

Wow, what a lucky (but in Ghana, probably more likely) outcome! I think I can safely say that we get brainwashed by the horrors we see on TV and forget that most Ghanaians are very willing to lend a helping hand.

Still, I'd have been just as terrified if I saw a stranger look for a rock and later pull out a rope!

Bubu said...

I have nothing useful to contribute. I just wanted to say i LOVE criminal minds too, and it's wonderful to find someone else who does!!!!

Abena said...

@Anonymous: *Sigh* I think I need a label entitled "run-ins with law-men" since my cop-encounters are only increasing in number. There is no way that can be a good thing.

@Kwegyirba: Hehehe! Talk about being really grateful to get home! I do have a problem with an overactive imagination and night-time fears. It is just something about the darkness...

@Maya Mame: very true that horrors on tv are much worse than real-life. Then again, you read newspaper articles in Ghana about people killing their brothers to get rich and then you just wonder. Personally, I have no fear of the juju but do fear that someone may believe that my scalp on a juju charm would work wonders for them! Unfortunately, experiences have taught me to be cynical and suspicious of my fellow Ghanaian's willingness to lend a hand. This is something I really have to work on.

@Bubu: kudos to you for your good taste...just can't get enough of Criminal Minds. Even if it keeps me up at night with some of the more freakishly weird plot-lines.

novisi said...

heart beating...fast...faster!

sweat under feet...!

scarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreddd!

i love the night and all it's mysteries.

but hey! good to know u are safe cos you never know!

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

there are still some good samaritans out there, except that the bad nuts have 'outshine' and 'outnumber' them. People are by nature kind but it is always difficult to exercise this kindness when you don't know what is lurking around or simmering in the other person's head. Shakespeare: 'There's no Art to find the mind's construction on the face'. If this were possible, doing good would be one hell of an easy task.

Abena said...

@Novisi: Hehhehe! There were very sweaty palms too. Mmmm.. So you find the night thrilling? *Interesting*

@Nana F-A:So true..so poetically put. Another bad scenario is when the Good Samaritan turns victim to some elaborate plot. The lack of fear from the Samaritan is what really scared me. Wasn't he a little worried that I was part of some elaborate trick? If not...why was he not more cautious? I know that sounds convoluted and a little paranoid on my part but I have heard stories of how people doing good have turned victim.

Emmanuel.K.Bensah II said...

Well-written! Though there was an expectation that you would survive the "ordeal", it was clear there was a lingering sense of trepidation, which I think you conveyed very well. The heart was beating oh! fast, paa, as I read it.

Thank God you were saved by a good Samaritan. As for the "patapa" of the police, very, very much to be expected!

Abena said...

Hehehehe! Thanks EK :) Interestingly, I ran into the same cops last night and they had absolutely no recall that we had met before..mmmm..