I had an appointment, but my car had been taken to the garage for a service, so I asked our finance and administration manager if I could borrow her car.
She kindly agreed, on the condition that I put in some fuel because she was on ‘E’ for ‘enough.’ She then showed me a few things about the car, like which button on the key to press to open it, and I was on my way, but she didn’t say anything about some of the peculiarities which her car might have.
There was certainly no question of me not putting fuel in the car because the gauge was at a quarter below the E! I didn’t realize that gauges could go that low, but fortunately I reached the nearest petrol station before it ran out, where after a bit of hunting for the lever that opens the fuel gauge, I was able to add some fuel.
As I approached the Jinja Rd traffic lights I heard a ticking sound, which was a bit unnerving as it sounded like a bomb was counting down; so I called Patti and she told me not to worry, it was only the alarm going off, but it was silent, so I was the only one who could hear it. As to why the car alarm should be going off while I was driving along the road I was not so sure.
I should say that the car was a BMW, which was really nice on the outside, but was a bit different when one was in the inside. When I got in, I was, at first, really confused because it didn’t appear to have an accelerator pedal. I knew that even if it was a BMW it was not a driverless car, and there must be an accelerator. Finally I found she had buried the accelerator under a thick mat.
I also found four pairs of high heeled shoes and wondered if the two were related – did she take off her shoes to drive the car and needed a thick mat for her feet, or did she drive in heels and needed the mat for that type of shoe? Who knows the wonders of the female driving style.
When I reached my destination I was directed to park in a car park at the back of the building, which was very fortunate, considering what happened after my meeting. I successfully parked the car, locked it and attended the meeting, but when I arrived back the key would not open the door, so I called Patti again.
‘Ah yes,’ she said, ‘sometimes it does that, which is why I usually don’t lock it.’
‘Thanks for telling me’ I thought.
‘But don’t worry,’ she went on, ‘the key will open the boot, then you look for a small lever inside the boot and push it, which will allow a section of the back seat to go down, then you crawl through that hole into the back and open the door.’
At this point I was very grateful that the car was not parked on the street where I would definitely have gathered a crowd if I appeared to be breaking into the car through the boot. There were, however, three people sitting near the vehicle having a chat and watching me.
They watched me as I opened the boot, rummaged around in it, and started feeling all over the boot for the secret switch. I suppose this behavior may not have aroused much suspicion, but when I found the switch and then started crawling into the car, I was surprised that they just kept on watching.
I am sure that it is not every day one witnesses a white man enter his car through the boot, a manoeuvre which necessitated me having my head and torso in the boot, with my skinny ass hanging out of the back and my legs sticking up in the air.
When I had accomplished this feat, I reversed back out the boot, righted myself on my two feet and pretended this was a normal way to enter a vehicle. I then got into the front seat as normally as I could, and drove off.
The people watching me just didn’t say anything, and I tried not to look at them since I felt that I might already have drawn enough attention to myself, so the best thing was for me to drive off quickly. I really don’t know what they were thinking, but I realize now that if I were to become a car thief I would probably have a successful career.
No Ugandan had ever seen a white car thief, and no matter what I did Ugandans would just think that this was normal, though somewhat odd, behavior for a white man.
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