This afternoon I went to the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) to pay duty on the iPad I bought in Johannesburg over the weekend. At the counter was an old lady with a smile – I will later learn this smile is a sign of ignorance.

I had gotten into the hall before some guy, but because I didn’t know which counter to go to, he beat me to the counter with Smiler. She was the only one collecting payment. He was paying duty for several cars. Have you ever run into those people who run bottle stores, flea markets, kiosks, or stores in the oriental plaza who come to banks to deposit notes and coins – and this always happens when you’re in a hurry? You have? So, you know it took forever for car dealer to conclude his business …

After what was really an eternity, it was my turn, I step forward and give Smiler the documents I received at the border, and my bank card.

“Don’t you have cash?”


She gets up with a grunt, and goes to the Speediest machine several desks away – the gout was killing Smiler. Moments later my phone vibrates, I check, it is a message confirming that the amonunt has been withdrawn from my account – I put the phone back in my pocket. Smiler leaves the machine, walks to a lady at some desk station behind, after what seems an eternity she returns, picks up her phone and makes a call.

While she on the phone, I felt a message come into my phone. I know better than to answer a call in a hall full of noisy people – so I ignore the vibration. About five minutes later Smiler tells me the amount didn’t go through. Very certain it did, I remove my phone from my pocket to show her the message, and I see the second message that came in – the amount has been reversed.

“Sorry rra, I pressed the wrong button.” She admits then she does not know how to use the Speedpost machine – with a smile.

Copyright © Fani-Kayode Omoregie 2014