It's been nearly two weeks and those two words still haunt me. Two Sundays ago I came down to Lagos from Port Harcourt by road, in my friend's car. It must have been eons since I travelled long distance by road in a private car, so there was no way I was going to let those things I see people do pass me by. Before we got to Ugheli I informed my friend that I wanted to buy things, what I wanted to buy, I didn't know. I just knew I wanted to buy things and more importantly, it would cost much less than it does in Lagos. He told me Ore would be the place, he however stopped around Okada in Edo state and as I looked at the roadside lined with bags of garri, buckets of onions, large bunches of plantain, bags with snails, kegs of palm oil and what not, my heart began to thump. I wasn't quite sure we needed any of these at home or at my parents' but I was determined to be one of those who journeyed and returned bearing organic foods in large quantities (nothing in Lagos seems organic when it comes to food).
I came down from the car and tried to withstand the mob of women who 'rushed' me, promising me the best prices and freshest products. I ignored them and walked from one end to the other, squinting, pausing, thinking and touching this and that, as if I knew what I was doing. I'd ask the person the price and when she'd call it, I would squeeze my face and go to another seller to price the same thing, and on to the next one, and then another, like I used to see "adults" do. I eventually bought bags of garri, plantains, onions, snails, corn etc and in bulk too. It cost a pretty sum but I found comfort knowing that I'd haggled and made a very good bargain and besides, I spent less than half of what I would in Lagos. Or so I thought.
All the women I bought items from were very pleasant, strangely so, and they offered to carry the goods to the trunk of the car. After the woman who sold me bunches of plantain dropped them, she began to chat with the one who sold me bags of garri, and the others. They all had this amused look on their faces.
And then I heard her say "Ha, dis one na correct aje o!"
"I swear!!!" the others responded and they all burst out laughing as they walked away.
There I was, feeling on top the world, feeling like the number 1 haggler in Nigeria, feeling like I'd just made my mama proud. Then these women just burst my balloon and brought me crashing down.
In case you don't know what they meant by Aje, it's aje butter, aka butty, aka (in this circumstance) not street smart, aka olodo.
Azzinnnn, the way they laughed it was obvious that not only did I not get a good bargain, I didn't get a bargain at all! I probably even dashed them money on top!!!!!
I got into the car feeling hurt, disillusioned and vulnerable, and I was quiet for the first few minutes until I eventually confided in my friend what had just happened.
"Oh, is that why you've been quiet? Nahhh, I'm sure they meant aje as in aje butter, like you're posh and all", he said.
"Tah! You and I both know that's not what they meant."
LOL. I guess we've all got something we're just horrible at. Mine is haggling, or pricing as well call it in Nigeria. I'm crap at pricing taxis, food items at the markets, clothes a colleague is selling and just about anything else. I find it exhausting and sometimes painful. Please I can't be the only one who's crappy at something others are great at. Now tell me yours.