I was easing the car into my parking slot yesterday when a young man in a white sedan zoomed dangerously past my left rear light.
One look at him and it was evident he was a high school kid home for mid-term.
I instinctively swerved to not only give him space but also save myself the agony of being rear-ended by an unlicensed driver.
He missed me by a whisker, but the ‘pwaaaah!’ that followed was testament he had ended up in a wall.
My car did not sustain injuries, just a bit of shock. I quickly glanced over to see whether the driver was hurt and needed first aid. He was coming out of the car, a plain look on his face.
It was difficult to tell whether he was shocked, apologetic, resigned, or just there.
With help from one of the security guards, we frog-marched the young man to his dad, holding him by the collar. He struggled to remain behind, like a goat being dragged to an abattoir, you wouldn’t have believed that was his home we were taking him.
The guard pressed the doorbell, and to the door walked a man in his 50s rubbing his eyes with his palm. He was in a full suit complete with a black tie, only the shoes sat at the entrance.
I guessed that he must have gotten back home from a day of building the nation, tossed the keys on the table and collapsed on the couch from exhaustion.
That was the loophole the young man needed to sneak out of the house and take his dad’s machine for a tour of the estate.
“Hello Sir,” I started. Even with a long yawn escaping him, his response was warm.
“So, there has been an incident,” I continued. His eyes lit up, you could tell all the sleep had vanished.
“Your son just drove into a wall.”
“Drove into a wall with which car?”
I have not seen a middle-aged man’s anger shoot up that fast. My initial theory had been true.
The boy mentioned going to the shop, but that was the last he heard before slipping off into dreamland, only to be woken up by three strangers clutching at his son’s collar.
The whole family (including a toddler in pink rompers and a mbocori) accompanied us to where the ‘crime scene’ was, the dad furiously hurling insults at the fruit of his labor walking about five meters away from us.
The boy now looked deflated. I am not sure whether he was sad that he had wrecked his dad’s car or that his proverbial 40 days had come earlier than he ever imagined.
Three to four people had gathered around the vehicle, their eyes fixated on the protruding bonnet.
That look reminded me of high school days when thugs among students beat up people’s boxes in search of food and money, leaving them looking like flying butterflies. We approached the car in slow steps, everyone was silent.
That is damage even the most porous insurance company will not compensate, especially once it is established that it was a minor who put the car into a wall.
“I am disappointed in you, Mike, so disappointed,” he said in a low tone, shaking his head lightly.
My eyes caught sight of something I had missed earlier on: the wrecked car had a company sticker on the door.
In other words, apart from coughing out unexpected expenditure to fix the mess, he will probably have to lie to his employer that it was him behind the wheel when the car rammed into the wall.
He has no option but to do that, otherwise he will lose his job and by extension a major source of their livelihood, not forgetting the boy’s school fees. It is called taking the bullet for your son.
From my estimation, the father, who I learnt is called Steve, has to somehow conjure about 50k Kenya shillings to panel beat the bonnet and bumper, replace the headlights and do a fresh paint job.
That is money that would have gone a long way in paying the same boy’s high school fees, shopping or pocket money.
It is at that moment that, being a father myself, I connected with his feelings. I can tell you if Steve was alone he would have either broken down in tears or beaten up his boy badly. I felt the fury and tears that were welling up inside, aware that I am raising a son who in ten years could do the same thing to my car.
Sometimes, a seemingly harmless nap can cost you dearly when you have an overzealous and cheeky son in your house.