Friday, March 30, 2007

Do I Know You?

I don't know if Ghanaians just pay better attention to what goes on around them, or if they are possessors of some vital gene I simply don't have, but we are continually amazed and humbled by the memories of the people we meet and deal with here.

We were sitting at an intersection weeks and weeks ago and a motorcycle cop pulled up next to us and chatted with Ted. Last weekend, we were at the same intersection and one of the street beggars came up to us and said,

"Good evening! I hope you were not inconvenienced by the policeman last time I saw you here...".

We both just stared at him waaaaay too long and then agreed that his unique approach and excellent memory was worth a few thousand cedi. ;-)

Then there's the basket lady I like on 5th Circular Road. Her baskets are so nice and have little touches that make them different from others we see. I bought a few small tabletop baskets from her about 5 months ago. Last weekend we went back because I wanted a carry basket. Sure enough she had just what I wanted and when I asked how much she smiled and said,

"¢80,000, but for you- ¢75,000. Just don't wait so long next time to come back."

That's the first time ever a vendor has dropped his or her price for me without cause- and since I consider her prices too reasonable anyway, I gave her the money (about 8 bucks for a carry basket you would pay more than 50 bucks for in the U.S.) and got a hug goodbye for my trouble.

We went to dinner at Chez Afrique (our outdoor, live music, neighborhood restaurant) Friday. We didn't get our usual waiter- but the man who did come to our table said,

"Long time! Do you know me?"

We pled old age and bad memories and he smiled and said,

"You work for WAGP, right? I used to be a janitor in your building in 2005."

We shook his hand and agreed it was, indeed, 'long time', and complimented him on his excellent memory.

When we left the restaurant, being old and having a bad memory, I left my reading glassed on the table in their case. When we returned the next morning to retrieve them, our usual waiter ran up to us as I entered the patio area and told me that our Janitor/waiter had taken them for safekeeping and would bring them to Ted's office on Monday- and asked his friend to watch for us and let us know if we showed up looking for them.

In Ted's words- at, say, Bennigan's, by Monday they would have hit the trash.

I won't bore you with the details of the countless places we walk into around here and hear "long time!" and get big hugs and hand shakes from people who haven't seen us for weeks. People who know what beer we drink, that we have a son who accompanies us rarely (one waiter at Ryan's Irish Pub always stops by our table and asks about his 'small brother'- even though Coop has only been in Ryan's three or four times in two years), that we like RedRed, or extra blue cheese, or lots of wasabi.

I tell you, if this country had to succeed or fail on its people alone, it would have nothing to worry about, ever.