Friday, 24 July 2009

Disaster Maniels/Slimey Eels

Here I am in Ghana, at 4am and as sick as a dog. But that's not Ghana's fault, which so far has seemed lovely. Mind you, all I've really seen is a luxury hotel. But they had tarmac on the roads and white lines down the middle, and the traffic queued orderly, so it's a good start. I arrived here about 12 hours ago, waving goodbye to the Ivory Coast for the time being. But don't worry, I left the country on a high.

Hmm, perhaps not. My last day there turned out to be a day of considerable hassles, broken into two parts: fat white man and lanky black man. We'll start with fat white man, whom the observant among you may correctly guess to be our blustering friend, Dark Eels. Myself and my colleague arrived as normal in the morning, and for an hour remained undisturbed as we waited for our equipment. Then Eels appeared, and barely suppressing the glee on his piggy face asked me to come into the office with him. In there were two other senior people from his service company.

"We've had talks and we've realised we have no option but to kick you out," he said, with almost ecstatic joy.


"With immediate effect," he said, staring hard for a reaction. React! he seemed to cry. "You have to leave right now!"

"Ok," I said, and left the room and informed my colleague it was time to go.

Before we could even begin to pack up, Eels was in the room, his lifetime bubble of smugness only slightly dented by my failure to cry, wail or argue. He launched into yet another monologue - he wouldn't be interrupted, "I have to say all this, let me finish" - about all the reasons we had to leave, which weren't just financial (they were) but because of compliance and liability and... oh, I stopped listening. As he neared the end of his spiel, he wiped the sweaty joy from his forehead and told me he could very generously offer me a lifeline if I could phone my boss and pass this information on so a quick resolution could me made.

"Look," I said, and as I've been saying for the last couple of days. "Why don't you phone him? This is stuff I have no idea about and has little to do with me." Remarkably, this time he agreed. I called the Aberdeen office on speakerphone and listened as Eels bellowed loudly for half an hour. Every time he made a point, he looked up at me, grinning, wanting me to reciprocate his smiles, but I didn't look him in the eye and just looked forward, impassively. Honestly, total lack of reaction is the only way to deal with this numbing idiot. The call eventually ended with an agreement that as least bought us a stay of execution for another few days.

The details of the disagreement I can't be bothered going into - contracts and money between companies - but trust me in believing that Eels created an issue and enjoyed days of roaring, meandering monologues to me and my colleague over something that could have been sorted with a few polite emails or calls to Aberdeen. And trust me when I say that I ever catch his name in the paper and find something ghastly has happened to him - disease then death, perhaps - I will punch the air in glee. The man is one of the most disagreeable characters I have witnessed, in any field of my life.

By fortune, as the call has ended, our equipment had arrived, finally, finally, after days of delay. It took us a mere half hour to get what we needed and pack the rest away, and we were ready to escape, and catch our flight to Ghana. Alas, our hassles were far from over... as Abidjan airport was preparing a new world of nightmare for us both...

...which I'll have to leave till later, as I'm supposed to getting up for 5am for a flight at 6am. I'm getting on a boat in the evening, where some work can finally begin.

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