The Mischievous Nerd's Guide to World Domination
Author: Stephen Oberauer

Chapter 82
Thabo Mbeki

It was Tuesday, the 14th of June, 2005. I was at home, brushing my teeth and getting ready to go to work. I looked up at the clock. It was already 8:46. I only had 14 minutes to get dressed and go to work before the morning’s psych meeting. The phone rang, and Shelley, who was waiting patiently for me to get ready, answered the phone. ‘Nathan, where are you?’ she called excitedly.

‘I’m bwushing my sheesh,’ I replied.

‘You better rinse quickly, you’ll want to hear this,’ she shouted back. I rinsed my mouth and the bathroom door opened. Shelley handed me the phone with a big grin.

‘Hello,’ I answered the phone.

‘Hey, it’s Edward. Don’t come into work today. I’ll pick you guys up and then we’ll go together.’

‘Where exactly are we going?’

‘Didn’t Shelley tell you?’

‘No, she’s standing here with a big grin on her face. What’s up?’

‘We’re meeting the president today.’

‘What president?’ I asked.

‘Thabo Mbeki!’

‘The South African president?’ I asked, knowing that Thabo Mbeki was the president, but just to confirm the one thousandth of a percent chance that I had misunderstood.

‘Yes! We got an appointment with him at 10. He wants to discuss your whole “buying a country” idea.’

‘Shucks!’ I replied. Being one of the most important days of my life, it was a little bit terrifying for me.

Edward’s van soon arrived outside the block of flats and found us waiting downstairs. I was wearing my jacket that I had not worn in a year. We hopped in the sliding door and greeted Dave, Edward and Rupert, who were already in the van and looking just as uncomfortable in smart clothing as I was.

Our drive took us along the side of Table Mountain into the centre of Cape Town. We arrived outside the large, black gate and waited as the security guard made his way to the driver’s side window. ‘We don’t allow taxi’s in the grounds,’ he said.

‘This isn’t a taxi,’ Edward explained. ‘We have an appointment with president Thabo Mbeki.’

The guard took a peek inside the window, and realized that he had made a mistake, ‘Sorry chief. Your name, please?’

‘Edward Hewitt.’

The guard looked at his clipboard, ‘I open the gate for you.’

We drove into the premises and parked outside a large, new, white building with pillars that towered above us. It felt as if the building had been designed to intimidate us. As we walked up the stairs and into the building we found that the inside was just as intimidating, a large reception area, with large marble pillars, and a highly polished and decorated floor.

We were all checked by security, and then a man led us to a slightly less intimidating board room with a woolly carpet and a large table. He told us, ‘The president will be here shortly’ and left, closing the door behind him. We all sat down around the table.

‘How are you guys feeling?’ Edward asked us.

‘Nervous,’ I replied. ‘Look at my hands.’ I held my shaking hands over the table to show everyone.

‘Calm down, you’ll be fine,’ Shelley assured me.

The president walked in along with eight other men. We stood up and he shook our hands. We took our seats again and Thabo started by telling us, ‘The security guard likes your baas’ (‘Baas’ is an Afrikaans word meaning ‘boss’).

I was thrown off guard, and didn’t know what to say. The first thought that entered my mind was to ask ‘Is he gay?’, but knowing that it was probably not a good idea to start the conversation off by talking about the guard’s sexual preferences, I said, ‘Yes, Edward’s a friendly guy. We like him too.’

‘No,’ Thabo explained, ‘I said “your bus”. The security guard likes your bus.’

The misunderstanding made me even more nervous, and I struggled to speak properly, so Edward and Rupert did most of the talking. Thabo already knew about our business, and our achievements, so it was not difficult to convince him that we were very good at turning original ideas into reality. What they didn’t like was the thought of losing our company to a country that didn’t even exist. At the end of the meeting Thabo told us that he would consult with the relevant people and get back to us.


The next week seemed to take forever. Each day I wondered what the government’s decision would be and by the end of the week I was feeling rather discouraged. On the monday morning I arrived at my desk and found an official looking A4 sized, brown envelope. I called Edward and Shelley over so that we could all read it together. I ripped the envelope and scanned through the document quickly to see if it was good or bad news.

‘So?’ Edward asked me impatiently.

‘We have our own country!’

I gave Edward a high five and gave Shelley a hug. The document was a contract, explaining that we could operate independently on the condition that we continued to offer our existing services and paid taxes to South Africa. Of course we signed it and had a big celebration.

 

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