my new favorite guy at the office is marcel. he is our logistics man, and so whenever you need something the answer is "marcel gere" which is like, marcel's got it covered. he has a sort of permanently black swollen eye, sorta cyclops but really likeable face.
marcel has it mostly covered. the other day he walks in to ask the boss - how much storage space do we need to rent? and me and cyril turn our heads 15 degree rotation towards the dangerously towering pile of boxes and equipment that has eaten up 3/4 of the office, through which we have created a tunnetl to link the door and window, it looks like an episode of hoarders. i don't know marcel, what do you think? he's like, yeah, 20m2, just what i thought. can i negotiate with them, boss? and pay up front? of course marcel!
today i needed to exchange my euros. the airport in paris was a total ripoff! 1.05? marcel hisses and shoos me with his hand, explaining that in kinshasa there is demand for euros, and where there is demand, people pay. people will pay for my euros. big time.
so we get the driver, and i love when i get to have 2 guys driving around kinshasa in our land cruiser. feels very special.
we go the special change place called "mama double" where marcel knows a guy. marcel knows everyone. and for marcel, everything is negotiable. so we go in and the guy is all, dollar is 1.26 today and i'm thinking yeah! awesome! here you go! and i start to take out my wad and marcel hisses, it was 1.28 yesterday! we will go somewhere else. and they scream at us, marcel, you don't have internet? if you look on the internet you will see that the dollar is 1.26 today. so we go to the next place. here they have a dry erase board with $1.26 written on it. no way. next place. i am now completely sweating through my clothes and i don't really care at this point if it's 1.3688, i need some air conditioning. i see the driver buying kleenex and pens from the street guys, and selecting bananas from a bucket on a woman's head and realize we have done a huge circle and we are back to where we started. marcel says "that was just my verification procedure!" ah ok, so the rate is 1.26.
don't you have internet on that fancy blackberry?
"but the internet does not negotiate."
and here marcel saunters up to the counter and arrogantly takes the calculator on the counter and starts calling out figures. 2,290. 2,270 it keeps on going down until they settle on a figure - 50$ more than what i calculated at 1.26.
he looks at me "demand."
but then the guy doesn't have enough dollars and so he goes away and we are standing here in this sauna closet thing. it is so hot. so so hot. there's an air conditioner on the floor in pieces. i ask if we can charge more the longer we wait in this hellbox and you can see him actually considering it...great idea!
we buy some tissues from the street guys and dab at our foreheads. my back is a river.
finally the guy comes back and they are all thank you very much please come back soon!
then we go pay the hotel bill, which i show marcel. no-no-no. this is not what he pay. so marcel goes in a charms the owner lady into a 20% discount. sacre marcel! maybe i don't need to move in with the italians after all?
speaking of which, it is time to take my bags over to my new abode, which is behind a military barricade, where you need to talk to the guy with the beret and machine gun and explain your life and then he slowls moves a cone. super secure. we get through and i ring the doorbell and unfortunately, the italian grandpa shows up in a wife beater (also called a marcel in french) and half of his face in shaving cream. bonjiorno! i quickly put my bags down and run back to the truck. i'm all, so, what do you think of my new place, really secure hein? see these guys? not just police officers but army dudes and marcel laughs all out, "hahahahhaa yeah, so secure! especially the next time they try and kill the president, which is like, every weekend hahahahaha! and the guys with the machine guns are totally your friends then, hahahha" sacre marcel.