The bus was taking forever to come by the Cedar Avenue stop. As SUVs whizzed by at top speed, sending jet streams of that white flaky and crystalline substance sputtering in all directions. It was the middle of December and winter was way beyond coming. It had firmly ensconced itself in the plateaus of the Allegheny. The chilly winds were unrelenting and so was the bus’s resolve to not come by.
Ill dressed for the weather, Kwabena stood by the signpost shivering and rubbing his palms for the last stroke of heat he could generate by friction. He cursed his stars, hurling out “Kwasia” and “Aboa” for the 100th time. But he did not know who the invectives were directed at.
It might have been for the bus driver but unbeknownst to Kwabena, the potbellied Caucasian with a moustache resembling Hitler had done no wrong. The last bus for downtown had left Brookline at 8 pm. It was now 8:05 pm. Unlike the trotros back home, the Port Authority buses followed a timetable set in stone and were rarely late by a minute. Gone were the days of flagging down the rickety lorries who followed haphazard schedules.
Maybe the insults belonged to the consular at the embassy in Osu. Had she said no after the second or third question asked, Kwabena might not have needed these overbearing and cheap winter coats. Neither would he have been stuck in the cold trying to catch a bus to work. But he was one of a lucky few.
Back home, people were literally willing and ready to kill for the hologram with the star spangled banner in their passport. Everybody in Accra knew somebody who once spent a couple thousand dollars to secure a US Visa only to be duped by the cunning connection men parading the desperate streets Makola with fat but empty folders or to be “bounced” by the consular.
Body still shivering and hands rubbing like prehistoric cave men trying to fight the cold, the phone started blaring. ”…. Start again. Tsimin waa tsimin waa. International fisherman Sane f33 sane ni baa nina no 33 jee kakla ak3 fo) Afi n33 w) sha Bonsu x2 Oyawo kakla yoo aaf) l) bo tam) shit) lo Telemo Aya fa shika eha bo agben3 aats3 bo tam) ada ngo”
And once again he was carried away in a trance. Back to his dormitory on Ghana’s premier campus. On those Friday nights after a tedious Econometrics lectures. When his inner cubicle was turned into a disco tech. Music playing at the loudest level, boxes of Eddy’s pizza littering his floor and a desperate senior trying his utmost best to break his 4-0 streak with an unsuspecting freshman girl. In Legon, 4-0 meant 4 years without a girlfriend.
The ringing phone was just about to go silence when Kwabena’s consciousness brought him back to Pennsylvania. He was in Pittsburgh to be precise. At the other end of the call was his screaming Pakistani boss. In a Bollywood styled accent, Ranjit was barking frantically. “TIME IS MONEY. I CANNOT HAVE YOU COMING TO WORK LATE EVERYDAY. YOU ARE FIRED!!!” And just like that he lost his first job. After barely three days of minimum wages.