Matthew walked into the MTN Regional office at Ikoyi at around 9. a.m on Thursday. He patted his pocket to make sure he brought his international passport with him
. They would need to see some valid I.D. before they gave him his winnings; two ten thousand naira cheques he had won in two consecutive days. He greeted the lady at the entrance and told her his purpose for coming. She directed him to a pretty lady sitting behind a desk with other young and equally good looking guys and ladies.
She smiled at him and looked inquisitively into his eyes.
Matthew cleared his throat and said, ‘yeah. I won some money in your ongoing promo and um…I’ve come to collect.’
‘Haa’, she said in mock shock. ‘Just like that?’
Matthew played along, flashing bright white teeth. ‘Yes o. I want my Money now!’
‘Okay’ She said. Just kindly fill this form and let me see a valid form of I.D.’ Matthew brought his passport out of his pocket and handed it to her as he sat down. She took it and slid the form across the desk with a pen. Just as he picked up the pen, his phone vibrated in his pocket. He stood up again and gingerly slid the Nokia c-300 out so as not to cut the call. He check
ed to see who was calling. Call Center. That meant MTN Call Center. Now aren’t they efficient? Calling to tell him his cheque was ready. He answered the call and mischievously looked around to see if the caller was around.
‘Good morning’ the female voice said. ‘Am I on to Mr. Matthew?’ ‘Yes’ he replied and quickly scanned the row of fine people.
About two desks away, a young guy stood close to two ladies while one spoke into a telephone. Matthew squinted, trying in vain to read her lips.
Now he really wished he had his glasses with him. He took a step in their direction while the lady attending to him tried in vain to get his attention. ‘We’re calling from the MTN call center and we want to…’ By this time, Matthew had seen that she was the one calling him. He walked up to her in a few wide strides and asked with an eager smile, ‘Will it help if you poked me in the chest to be sure I am me?’ Her eyes grew wide as she realized what was happening and screamed, ‘OMG what are you doing here??’
‘OMG!’ the other lady exclaimed. ‘Is he the one?’
By this time more than a few heads had turned their way and Matthew was beginning to get shy. The pretty lady, who still held his passport walked briskly towards them.
‘Hey! Temi, you people can’t just come and hijack my customer o. I was in the middle of something with him. What is happening here?’ Everybody in the office erupted into raucous laughter.
From the identical looks on Temi’s face, Matthew started to sense, along with every other person, that something was really happening here.
Temi took center stage. ‘Ok! Mr. Matthew, really, what are you doing here? Answer!’ Matthew laughed nervously and scanned the many pairs of eyes that now turned on him. Some people actually stood with arms akimbo, as if ready to pounce on him and rip him into a few chunks of organic jigsaw pieces. He cleared his throat the second time that morning, vaguely remembering the lightness of the mood when he had cleared his throat earlier on to state his purpose. It seemed like hours ago. Now he struggled to keep his smile up.
‘Well, um…I won some-’
‘You won what? How did you know?’ Some people actually took a step closer to him at this point peering into his face like the answer was written there.
‘Well someone called me about three weeks ago that I won some money.’
‘Money??’ Temi cut in again. People were beginning to get restless. ‘Temi what is happening now? E soro jor’
Temi looked at her colleagues who had stood close to her as she made the call; all three of them had dazed looks. Temi turned to address the crowd but didn’t take her eyes off Matthew’s.
‘I just wanted to congratulate him for winning an S.U.V.!’
Everything seemed to slow down to Matthew. He saw as a petite guy who looked like a toy, jump a good foot high in fright as the fat lady beside him shrieked in delightful shock. The pretty lady who was claiming her right to attending to him first was more in control as she slapped a hand over her mouth which was already opening wide to scream. A couple of people still didn’t understand.
Matthew however was genuinely thrown off guard. He had visualized and prayed that he would win one of the Hyundai ix35 SUVs MTN was giving out. He was tired of walking and being forced to use public transport. I mean, he knew there were times when he would have regretted going out with his car but thought it would have been better if he had the car and had to choose to use public transport. He had believed he would win and had even written his thank-you speech. But never did Matthew think it would happen like this.
He was completely stunned, eyes, opened slightly wider than mouth, and all he could say was a weak ‘O my God’…