12 August 2013

Hafiz Adewuyi

No Keg Money For You

PHCN had not supplied electricity for over 24 hours and counting. The freezer was getting warm and we needed to protect our precious edibles. Thankfully, our bigger generator had been brought back to service recently; so, all I needed to do was get some fuel to fill it up. I collected some cash from mum and headed out of the flat with two yellow 5 liter kegs in hand.

My street lies parallel to a main road: "Ipaja road" in Lagos state. On this road, there are three separate fuel stations, all within a distance of less than a kilometre. This means (fortunately) that I usually do not need to travel far to get fuel. As I stepped out of the house, my mind tried to decide on the one that was going to get my patronage. I had two parameters in my consideration: distance, and affinity of the attendant staff to demand a tip referred to as keg money. For distance, two of them were within an approximately equal distance from my house. The third would cost me an extra five minutes to reach. Ironically however, I decided to go for the farthest one: Mobil; not without good reason though.

Sometime ago while passing through Mobil station, a poster on each of their fuel pumps had caught my attention. They advised us (customers) never to give tips for buying fuel. Knowing my country though, I strongly doubted that the announcement held any real weight. In spite of my doubts though, I was determined to take them on, using the poster to my advantage.

Ten minutes after leaving the house, I was at my destination: Mobil. The attendants at three separate pumps beckoned me to their own pump. This phenomenon made me suspect that things were as I feared; poster announcement was weightless. I ignored the first beckoner and allowed logic to lead me to the closest pump that was not busy. For a moment though, I felt like a traitor for doing that. Without greetings of any form, I placed my order as soon as I got to the pump. I opened the two kegs and the male attendant, no questions asked, started to dispense fuel into one of them.

Alas, much to my  fearful expectation, he stopped the pump at 20 NGN short of the amount of fuel I had required be dispensed. I needed no fairy to tell me what was happening here. Realizing, I Immediately queried him on my observation. He retorted (in pidgin English), seeming to ask why I was pretending to be oblivious of the "keg-money" concept. I quickly drew his attention to the poster that had brought me that far in the first place. He muttered something in reply, but at this point, I was so hell-bent on defending my 20 NGN  right that I could not afford to hear anything that was not in my favor. After my triple repetition of the fact that I had come this far, only because of the confidence the poster has instilled in me earlier, I managed to get the attention of this attendant's colleague who now asked, "What is the matter"? I wasted no time in calling his attention to the poster that was the source of our argument. 

No sooner had I started explaining to the new guy than I noticed that the first attendant had finally conceded to my will. Without further ado, he proceeded to sell fuel into the other keg. I watched the pump meter, and this time, he dispensed the exact volume of fuel I had ordered for, plus the additional 20 NGN fuel he had shorted from the first keg. I felt satisfied and victorious as I handed him my payment in cash. Ironically, I also felt a little guilty for declining him of the keg money that has come to be the birthright of he and his kind around here. To appease my conscience, I thanked him for his service as I made to depart for my house. As I sauntered away from the station a victor, I felt their sneers and curses on my back. I did not dare to look back to confirm. I've been around here long enough to know what to expect after such an event as just transpired between us.


The truth is, the usual me would have simply kept silent as regards the keg money. Easily, I could have thought:
1. What's twenty naira compared to the amount of fuel I was buying?
2. It's just a way of me helping the less privileged (attendants).
3. Everyone does it, it's a norm, no need to raise dust unnecessarily?

However, my motivations for taking the less trodden path are as follows:

Do one thing today that scares you
A line from a beautiful speech I once heard called the Sunscreen song. I try to challenge myself, as advised by that line, as much as possible. Yes, I am quite scared of the unpredictability of confronting other people, especially strangers.

Vehicle owning buyers do not pay keg money
By this now, I do not mean when the vehicle owner refills their fuel tank. No! I mean as a vehicle owner around here, you can stop by at any fuel pump, at any filling station, and buy fuel into a keg of any size without getting asked/charged for the keg money that is automatically charged to a pedestrian. That kind of invalidates the flimsy "reason" (which I learnt of on nairaland) for the surcharge. If the government has banned sales of fuel into kegs over 4 litres, does the law also add a clause that precludes motorists while including pedestrians? Perhaps, we can assume that these attendants are punishing the masses for not having vehicles: vehicleless charge.

From today onwards, I resolve to protest this d**n surcharge, every opportunity I have to. Only the wise attendant, who believes that it is more of a privilege than a birthright would ever get a dime of keg money from me. Call me akagum.


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Write comments
18 August 2013 at 15:46 delete

Wonderful! I really like this post, keep it up; and yes!There are times when we should just speak up for our rights, so we wouldn't be taken as doormats.

19 August 2013 at 07:22 delete

Thanks for the encouragement dear. Much needed, it is. :-)