Houston Travel Diary: My Gangster Experience
All day yesterday, I wasn’t feeling so good. Around 7pm, I decided to take a walk around the hotel, get a drink at the bar and some fresh air. I was armed with just my zenith bank debit card, my phone and my key card.
I was humming Davido’s “IF” as I waited for the elevator and when it opened, I instinctively stepped in. Picture this: I stepped into an elevator filled with 5 black men with tattoos all over their body, wearing sagging jeans, high top sneakers and white singlet.
Things didn’t seem right but what was I to do? I remained calm and headed straight to the bar as soon as the elevator opened. I didn’t want to go outside in case the gang-looking team decided they were stepping out too. As I stepped into the bar, the gang trooped in behind me, making it look like they were my bodyguards. I sat on the bar stool, the gang did the same, flanking me on both sides while one of them picked a call, strolling away.
I was tired emotionally and physically from being ill and missing home so I was numb from the situation. I felt nothing really, hence I passively hoped these people were just going about their business and this was a coincidence. I asked for lemonade, the gangster sitting next to me on my left said, “Lemonade? that’s all you want?” I turned to look at him, still feeling like a robot, I tried to speak but no words came out so I simply nodded and smiled.
I didn’t know how fatigued I was until I began to feel dizzy so I put my head on the table after I requested for a sandwich. The same guy managed to get in my face “are you okay?”.
Him being in my face made me see him clearly. He’s actually cute, white teeth and all. Issokay.
“I’m okay” I managed to say.
I wasn’t okay. My joints ached badly and I was really dizzy but I wasn’t ready to admit it to a gangster. I would have picked up my phone but my friends were either sleeping in Nigeria, vacationing or tending to babies. I finished my lemonade and decided it was best I get in my bed. When I extended my Zenith Bank Debit Card to the bartender for payment, tattoo guy on the left said, “Zenith Bank? Never heard of them.”
Obviously this guy was trying to have a conversation with me but even if he wasn’t all tattooed out looking like a character from “The Wire”, I’d still not be in the mood to talk. Still, I responded “It’s a Nigerian Bank.”
“What’s that?” He says, looking genuinely confused.
“Nigeria is a country in Africa”. I said to him, confused too.
“Oh. I know Africa but I don’t know Nigeria. Must be a small country. You’re from there?”
I was beginning to get irritable. That’s how I feel anytime people say they don’t know about Nigeria.
“How do you live in Houston and you’ve never met any Nigerian?” I asked him
“I don’t live here….” He says without details.
I was tired. I needed to get to my room. I got up and almost toppled over. Tattoo guy quickly came to my aid, held my hand and insisted he followed me to my room. That’s not happening. I shook my head and insisted the elevator would be fine. So, we got in the elevator together, and because he came off with me, I decided to sit by the waiting area on my floor until he left.
While he sat with me, he began to talk about himself. He told me how he was a used car sales man from Jackson Mississippi, he comes to Houston sometimes to do business and he can’t read much. However, he was able to send his siblings to college and also take care of his family.
I asked him “So you’re not into hiphop or any sort of gangster?”
“No. I’m not. Just misunderstood all the time. Used to it though.”
He introduced himself as James and when he had to go, he called the hotel front desk to ask the concierge to see me off to my room.
Everyone has a story, hopefully our appearance does not stop people from hearing it.