It was Monday morning and he was waiting in the lounge for the company car. He he had decided last night that he was ready to buy a car so he was on his cell, looking at the different cars at the same dealership where Mr. Chang had bought his. He was confident that he could find his way around as long as he had a good map. He was doing this because of Karine. He didn’t want her to have to drive every time they went out. Besides, he wanted to impress her with his own set of wheels and he missed driving. It was something he had done since he got his first car which was after he graduated from high school. It was a present from his father.
He narrowed his choices down to three–the Jeep Compass, Porsche Macan and the Land Rover Discovery. When he got to the office, the first opportunity he got, he would ask Mr. Chang to go with him to the dealership one day that week. He smiled. It would feel really great to be behind the wheel again.
Last night when he spoke to his mother about buying a car, she wasn’t happy at all. “Why would you want to drive when you could be driven?” she asked.
“Ma, I can’t use the company car indefinitely.”
“I don’t see why not.”
“I’m using it until I feel comfortable driving myself around.”
“I don’t like the idea of you driving over there.”
“I’ve read that driving there is dangerous and that the locals have bad driving habits. I’m afraid that you’ll end up in a terrible accident and then–“
“Ma, I’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”
“How can I not worry?” she retorted. “No form of transportation in that city is safe. The bus drivers put passengers in danger because they don’t obey the traffic laws, the trains are unreliable and uncomfortable. You can’t use the minibus taxis because of the bad conduct of the drivers. Public transportation there is dangerous. You have to keep your eyes on your belongings at all times. Why don’t you hire a driver who knows the area well?”
“Maybe your boss can arrange of you to continue to use the company car.”
“Ma, the company car at my disposal in the mornings and in the afternoons I get a ride home from Mr. Chang sometimes or from another co-worker.”
“Why can’t Mr. Chang give you a ride home all the time?”
“Ma, he’s my boss not my chauffeur. Besides, we don’t always leave the office at the same time.”
“All right, ask him if you can have the company car at your disposal in the afternoons as well?”
“Ma, I told you, the arrangement with the company car is temporary.”
“Then, find out if it can be permanent. Honestly, Jason, you do try my patience.”
“Ma, I don’t want to use the company car permanently. I want to buy my own car.”
“So, this is you being stubborn as usual. You don’t want to ask Mr. Chang to use the company car because you want to drive your own car. You want to be reckless and scare your father and me to death.”
“Ma, I’m not reckless. I’m a very responsible person and you know that. I promise you, I will be fine. Don’t worry about me.”
“Don’t tell me not to worry, Jason Cheung. I’m your mother.”
“Ma, I have to go. Give my love to Dad. Goodbye.” He hung up before she could say anything else.
It was true that driving in Nairobi was dangerous and most people didn’t use the public transportation because of poor safety records but he wasn’t afraid. Granted taxis were the most convenient and probably safest way to get around but he didn’t want to do have to spend his money on fares. He was determined to buy a car and use it to get to work and to take Karine out.
He glanced up suddenly and was surprised to see Karine standing there. “Good morning, Jason.”
“Good morning, Karine,” he replied, his eyes traveling eagerly over her. She was wearing a white blouse tucked into a black pencil shaped skirt. She was wearing nylons and a black shoes. She was obviously dressed for work. He rose to his feet and turned so that he was facing her. As usual, his heart was racing.
“So, how was dinner last night with your boss, his wife and Michelle?”
“It was pleasant.”
“Yes. The Changs are very nice people and Mrs. Chang is an excellent cook.”
“What about Michelle?”
“Did she have a pleasant evening too?”
He shrugged. “I guess so.”
“She’s very pretty.”
“Yes, she is.”
“And it’s obvious that she likes you.”
“Karine–” he was about to tell her that he didn’t feel the same about Michelle when his cell rang. Annoyed, he glanced down at the display and was surprised to see that it was Mr. Chang. “Hello, Sir.”
“Hello, Jason. I’m afraid that the company car wouldn’t be picking you up this morning. I’m on my way to the office in it right now. I had to use it because mine couldn’t start. Not sure what’s wrong with it. I had to call a tow truck to take it to the dealership. I hope that they can fix the problem by the end of today. If not, I will have to use the company car again. If I didn’t have to be at the office for a board meeting, I would have passed by for you. I’m sorry for the inconvenience.”
“That’s okay, Sir. I’ll make other arrangements.”
“No, don’t do that. Michelle’s on her way.”
“Yes, I asked her to pick you up. I hope you don’t mind.”
But I do mind, he thought. “Mr. Chang–“
“I’ll see you shortly.” He rang off.
Jason slipped the cell into the breast pocket of his jacket, his eyes meeting Karine’s. “That was Mr. Chang. The company car isn’t coming for me this morning. He’s using it because there’s a problem with his car.”
“I heard you mention Michelle.”
“Yes. When I told him that I would make other arrangements to go to work, he said that Michelle was on her way.”
“Michelle to the rescue.”
“Well, don’t let me keep you.”
“Your ride is here,” she informed him tightly before she turned and walked briskly away.
He turned and there was Michelle heading towards him with a big smile on her face. As he stood there, feeling helpless and resentful towards her and Mr. Chang, he thought of sinking sands and rain soaked reeds. What had started out as a fine morning had quickly turned into a lousy day.
Source: Expat Arrivals