A Nigerian Prince and His Homeless Friends
Nov 20 2012
Out of all of the industry jobs I’ve held, working in artist management was by far the weirdest…and it had nothing to do with the artists.
While I was going for my Masters, I took on a job working as the Day-To-Day manager for three bands who were big overseas. I guess they could all be lumped into that whole “EDM” category we’re throwing around these days. One was gigantic – millions of records sold, blah blah blah – the other was mid-level, and the third was just starting out (though they’re pretty big today). I thought I was hot shit because I was working with this top dog industry executive who went on to do artist management and worked on some of my favorite albums in the past. Outside of the music, the whole experience was a fucking face palm. I was one semester away from having to write my dissertation, so I was basically phoning in the rest of my life. Plus, my “office” was located in a brownstone in the middle of a neighborhood where every other street looked like Crenshaw in a John Singleton film. I had a total of seven hubcaps stolen during my year working there – and I was supposedly on one of the “good blocks.” I could go on about everything that sucked about that experience, but given the holiday season, I’ll focus on my Pre-Thanksgiving disaster.
This had to have been planned. There is no other way to explain it. My boss traveled about twice a month to Europe, so I was left all alone in this office with no curtains, facing the outside of the street. If you walked by, you could see my self-loathing ass organizing tour schedules and attempting to fake a British accent because I was the only person on the team without one. It started about three weeks before Thanksgiving. I was sitting at my desk and had these gigantic headphones on, mixing down a remix to send to the Euro blogs (one woman army up in this bitch). Something told me to look up, and when I did there was a man with his face pressed against my window. His tongue was out and he was licking the glass and gyrating. I looked and realized the door was unlocked, but this guy didn’t realize it. I’m thinking, “How do I get to the door and lock it without this man knowing that it’s unlocked before I get there?” I was in full panic mode. I pick up the phone to pretend I’m calling the cops and he starts to back away. I figure, once he’s standing in the street instead of rubbing his balls on my window, I can safely run and lock the door. As he backs away, I bolt to the door to lock it. He realizes it was unlocked and charges for the door. He starts banging on it and moaning. I have no idea why, so I start crying because that’s what you’re supposed to do. Then he stops making noise, and I assume the coast is clear. For some reason the universe was smiling on me and told me to check the sliding backdoor (I told you this was a brownstone). I run to the back and he’s there gyrating again. I close the blinds and call the cops. He left before they got there. My boss was coming back the next week, so I figured I’d fill him in then.
When I tell my boss later, he laughs at me like, “Oh hey suburban girl who has never seen a bum before! Welcome to the urban life.” He didn’t get it, and I wanted to punch him in the neck for it. Then he sends me by foot to go get him lunch. In the days following “the incident” I never left the office for one second. I had the blinds down and doors locked with boxes of CDs blocking them until I left for the day. I’d get there an hour early each day to park right in the front of the office and would leave an hour early so I wasn’t leaving at night. Now he’s asking me to walk down the street? The deli was like three blocks away and parking in this neighborhood was a major ass pain so driving the few blocks wasn’t an option. I start walking down the street like I’m in a parking garage at three A.M. waiting for my assailant. I’m Nancy McKeon in a Lifetime Original Movie. Finally, I make it to the deli unscathed. As I’m walking back, a champagne-colored car pulls up to me. “Where’s the Holland Tunnel?” he asks. We were exactly one block from the Holland Tunnel, FYI. “It’s one block over,” I reply, shaking like a leaf. “Show me where it is,” he says. At this point I’m still walking and his car is moving slowly with me. I point behind me. “No,” he says, “I want you to get in the car and show me.” You can’t make this shit up.
Walking faster I say, “I’m not doing that.” I have about a block before my office, and I’m freaking the fuck out. “Get in the fucking car, you bitch!” he yells. I start running. He stops his car and starts chasing me. He was a rather large dude, so I was able to easily outrun him and get to my office quickly. I jump down five steps like I’m in a Jackie Chan film and land in the doorway of my office (thank goodness the door was open or else I’d have no face right now). I’m crying as I tell my boss. He runs outside and chases the guy, who gets right back in his car and speeds away. Later that day, he walks me to my car and apologizes. As I leave his block, a policeman waves my car to the side of the road. Oh good. He comes up to my car and knocks on the window to get out of the car. Then he flashes his badge. Having cops in my family, I know that the first thing you do is check a cop’s badge number. His badge says “Property Of Sheriff Bugs Bunny.” He also has no shoes on. So here is a man dressed like a half-assed cop, trying to pull me over. I take a close look at his face and realize it’s the same man who was gyrating on the window the week prior. I start hyperventilating, and quickly drive away. He starts chasing my car and then hops in another car – a champagne-colored Toyota Camry – the same as the man who was trying to force me into the Holland Tunnel earlier. What.the.fuck?
I take down his plates (they were from Virginia) before losing him, and I call the cops to report them. There is no way to describe my level of lunacy at this point. This was a Friday, so I figured I had a few days to regroup before the short Thanksgiving week coming up. My boss lived in the brownstone where we worked, so I asked him to check around that weekend for any weirdoes. I even called Monday morning to make sure no one was around. He said everything was fine. He was leaving for the Thanksgiving holiday on Wednesday and wasn’t coming back until the following Tuesday. I was having a fit, and taking those days off was not an option. So Monday and Tuesday go by with no problems. Wednesday morning I get to my office, and there is a man standing outside in one of those suits that New Jack Swing artists would wear, only it wasn’t 1993, it was 2007 and this guy was late. He looked like Wayman Tisdale III in Strictly Business. “Ello, lady,” he says, holding a huge pile of cellphone batteries. “I’m a Nigerian prince (yes he really said that), and I want to take you back to my country. I was gathering some batteries at the United States mall for my many phones back home.” He had no shoes on and was a Nigerian prince apparently. The man was a walking spam email.
At this point I’m numb to psychos. Like, I’m Winona Ryder in Girl Interrupted numb, and just looking at him with this glazed over look like, “Are you fucking kidding me?” He’s standing in the doorway so I can’t get into the office. “I’ll bring you back to Jamaica and treat you like a queen.” Yes, he changed countries mid-convo. I look at him and walk right back to my car while he’s standing there. He doesn’t chase me; he just stands there smiling and finally says, “Enjoy ye turkey, Princess.” I drove my ass home. I don’t even remember what Thanksgiving looked like that year.
Monday morning I head to work, because now we’ve reached the end of the Horror film in my eyes. This must be the part where the killer who has my pictures hanging in his lab finally catches me to skin me and put me on a mannequin where he’ll call my cellphone and fake conversations all day until his many cellphone batteries from the United States mall all run out. Now I know you’re probably thinking, “Hey idiot, why did you even go back to work? Why didn’t you call the cops again and stop being the dumb bitch in the movie who stands in the middle of the yard yelling like Jennifer Love Hewitt in I Know What You Did Last Summer.” You’re right. Why didn’t I? Because I was overwhelmed by the ridiculousness that’s why.
As I make my way up the block in my car, my Nigerian-Jamaican prince is standing there again in the same outfit as the previous Wednesday. I’m far enough from him, so I turn to the corner and call the cops. I tell them the entire story from start to finish. They tell me to wait at the farthest corner. I watch what’s going down. They show up and grab the man, cuff him, and put him in the car. The end. Nobody ever showed up again, and I never told my boss because my resignation letter said enough. Who knows if these various men were connected or what the hell they were trying to accomplish. All I know is that I got a job in that same vicinity two years later, and when I tried to drive down that street I had a panic attack.
The moral of this story: never trust a man with no shoes.
Previously: Boy Band, Manly Erection
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John Waters's Cavalcade of Perversions