A few years back, I had the opportunity to meet who I called the most arrogant man I had ever met.
My friends and I were eating our snacks in a local store. Our field work was nearly finished so we escaped the heat of the mid morning sun for a while to cool off.
Minutes later, while we were having our usual banter, a not-so-new sports utility vehicle stopped by on the curb. The car’s windows were heavily-tinted so I suspected the occupants were some big shots who had some business in our area.
A five-footer man came out of the passenger side and stood erect in the pavement. He wore the city ensemble of long-sleeved shirt with a pin-striped tie, well-pressed pants and expensive shoes. With a better height, he could might be a perfect model for the successful man of the city.
He walked on till he reached the waiting shed fifty meters away from where we are.
The driver alighted the vehicle and slammed the door shut. The noise was muffled by the sounds of other passing vehicles.
“Hey, you! Do you know where’s the next gas station?”
We were shocked by the impertinence of the query. One of my friends, who had his long bolo (a small jungle knife) on his hand, was so irritated by the newcomer that he wished to put fear on the man’s face. I gave him the stare to stand down.
“A few kilometers from here?” I replied in a very polite manner, just like any rural folks asked for information.
“Damn this place! No progress!”
The driver perspired like a pig. His cheap clothes and imitation shoes were too loud for my taste, which in his mind were probably sophisticated in the eyes of provincial people. He had no idea that one of his present audience was a former city dweller.
“What’s that?” he asked, his tone even angrier. He saw tall bottles of soda on the store’s ledge.
“Oh, that’s gasoline.”
“Why didn’t you say there’s gasoline here? (expletive)”
When we heard that rejoinder, I quickly asked my friends to stay calm: I would handle the situation.
“You asked for a gas station and I replied. You did not say you need gasoline.”
The driver cum bodyguard approached the store like a royalty, shoulders and chin high, paid two 1.5 litter bottles of gasoline and added brusquely, “Keep the change!”
By then, I had difficulty suppressing the rebellion near me: my friends were fighting each other on who would teach the driver a lesson of humility.
“He will reap what he sow,” I commented to them.
The driver stopped on his tracks: he stepped on something. When he investigated what it was, he turned around and looked at us with a humiliated face.
One of my friends announced what it was and yelled to the man.
“Welcome to our place!”
Then, we burst in loud laughter.