Lagos - Paradise Has Its Scum, Too

 
Just as the Garden of Eden had its evil snake, Lagos has its share of low-life scum. The most egregious example of scum in Lagos is an Irishman named Reggie Cowell, approximately 40 years of age.
 
Reggie comes across with all of the legendary charm that the Irish are famous for, only in Reggie's case, it is ALWAYS a prelude to the con job. This is a guy who would lie to his grandmother on her death bed with a smile on his face. He has no moral compass. The truth or a lie, whichever gets him what he wants is what he uses and no conscience about it. He has been kicked out of more apartments and jobs in Lagos than anyone else I've heard of. He's burned just about every possible bridge there is to burn and is most likely on his last legs here, as he can't find a place to live (presently on a couch in his boss' apartment) and once he gets fired from his current job (won't take long), that will most likely end his employment opportunities in Lagos. He is usually drunk. If his lips are moving, he's lying. I'm sure you've met the type somewhere.
 
So much for the synopsis, now for some of the details that go into why the above is so.
 
Reggie was one of the first people I met in Lagos and I actually thought of him as a friend. Silly me, naive me. Reggie would sometimes visit, for a drink, a smoke, a game of darts. Mr. Life Of The Party. Never without a drink in hand or a cigarette hanging from his face.
 
One day I got a phone call from Reggie, a fairly rare occurrence, as he seldom had enough credit on his phone to use it, among other reasons. Reggie was desperate, needed a place to live. I later found out that the lovely couple he had been rooming with were so sick of living in the same space with him that they moved out and Reggie couldn't afford to stay on his own. I also later learned that every month it had been a fight and struggle to get him to pay his share of anything and that he lived in filth, like an animal.
 
But back to the present, Reggie was absolutely desperate, begged and pleaded with me to rent him my studio apartment. I wasn't crazy about the idea. I didn't need the income or want the hassle of dealing with the whole rental game, and a part of me knew that Reggie would be trouble, but softie that I am, wanting to help a friend in need, I agreed to rent the studio apartment to him.
 
We discussed the money and he said that the price was great, not a problem, could he move in immediately. I saw no reason to say no and agreed, giving him the keys. Later that day he did move in, with all of his stuff, but happened to forget the money. Every day for a week I had to go bang on his door and ask where the money was. Every single time he had some excuse.
 
Finally, after chasing him and hassling him for over a week, he finally gave me part of the money. He makes more than enough money working in a kitchen to pay for the apartment, but Reggie drinks or snorts every single penny that he makes. Drugs and alcohol are his raison d'etre. Another week gone by and I finally had all of the money for the first month, which was now half gone.
 
I was dreading the beginning of the next month, imagining the hell I was going to have to go through to get my money. I even sent an email and a text message a week ahead of time reminding him that it would be due so that he wouldn't have the excuse of having forgotten.
 
Didn't help at all. The day the rent money was due, there was no money, but there was a long litany of excuses. Everything was someone else's fault, nothing to do with him. He asked until the end of the week when he would get paid and I had no choice but to agree.
 
The end of the week arrived and there was no money in my mailbox, the agreed-upon place for him to put it, so I went banging on his door again to find out what was going on. He started with the excuses, blaming all sorts of other people and circumstances, so I evicted him then and there.
 
I took his keys from him and told him he had until the end of the day to vacate the premises with all of his stuff, that I would put it on the street as trash if it wasn't removed by the end of the day.
 
Now, keep in mind that he had been living in my studio apartment, on the roof of the building, necessitating passing my apartment door every time he went in or out. Not once in the 5 weeks that he was there had he ever knocked on my door to say hello, or anything for that matter.
 
One of the times I was beating on his door, chasing him for money, he complained that the water wasn't draining properly from the sink. I told him, knowing that he didn't usually get to bed before 4-6am, that he should knock on my door when he woke up and that I would check it out, make sure that it was fixed. I never heard from him again and assumed that he had checked and found the problem and that everything was okay, as I never heard another word about it.
 
After telling him that he was evicted, within 10 minutes Reggie was actually at my door, knocking on it for the first time since he had moved in. My friend. Now he's begging and pleading for me to be reasonable, understanding, telling me that friends are supposed to help friends in times of trouble.
 
I'm not a fan of one-way streets in relationships and Reggie was definitely a one-way street. I reiterated that he had until the end of the day to be gone, end of story, not interested in discussing anything with him. At 5 times the rent, in advance, I would not have him in my home, and I made sure he understood that.
 
When he didn't remove his stuff by 5pm, which is when he needed to be at his job, I threw everything out of the apartment onto the ground on the roof. Reggie is a noise maker. I am not a noise maker, I walk my talk. I planned on hiring one of the kids in the building to put it all out on the trash the following day, as it was too much for me to do.
 
The next day Reggie shows up and starts removing his stuff from the roof. He had a bicycle, but because he owed me a week's rent still, I took the bicycle as surety and told him that if he didn't pay me the money that he owed me, that I would sell the bicycle to get it. He swore up and down that nothing would prevent him from coming the following Friday, a week, to settle things.
 
His exact words were, "I don't want you to think I'm like this, that I'm not reliable. I promise, I promise that nothing will get in the way of me bringing you the money in a week." We're talking about €65/$70. Of course, he never showed up and I sold the bicycle that same day. I later found out that it wasn't even Reggie's bike, that he had stolen it from someone. Oops!
 
When I was in the apartment, throwing his stuff out onto the roof, the smell was so bad that I almost threw up several times. The sink was full of every single dish and piece of silverware, all filthy, dirty, dried food on everything, mold growing. The refrigerator was full, I mean FULL of old take-out food, some on plates with silverware, some just in the take-out containers. It was so crammed in that it took me 10 minutes just to get it all out, though constantly trying not to throw up at the smell had a lot to do with it. We're talking about a small European refrigerator, 3 feet tall, 2 feet wide.
 
In the bathroom - filthy doesn't even begin to cover it - every time he had finished a roll of toilet paper, he had just thrown it on the floor. There were 8 of them. The place was incredibly filthy. I've never even seen an animal foul its nest as badly as this place was fouled. It took me over 2 hours of cleaning just to make it possible to walk in without needing to throw up from the stench. This is what he was living in. It took a further 2 hours of cleaning by a professional cleaner to make it habitably clean. This is a studio apartment that is approximately 100 square feet/10 square meters in size; very very small.
 
The brand-new marble countertop in the kitchen was broken in half. The washing machine was destroyed and no longer worked. All told, there were over €600 in damages. In this process, I found that the sink draining problem was still extant. How the fuck could anyone live like this? It was beyond my comprehension. So much filth. It took me 2 minutes to fix the sink water drainage problem. It was nothing.
 
My neighbors came to me and asked if I knew anything about the mess just inside the front door to the building. I didn't know what they were talking about and went to look. Reggie had piled all of his shit inside the entrance to the building and just left it there. I sent him an immediate text message to the effect that it would be put on the street with the trash if it was there in the morning. A few hours later I heard the noise of it being removed. It took hours for the smell to dissipate.
 
An evening or two later, I was in town for a drink and to see friends. One of my favorite people, the head chef at one of the eateries and Reggie's putative boss, came up to me to ask about what had happened, as Reggie had been telling his own lies and everyone knew better than to believe anything that he said. I told him the story and his face just fell in disbelief. It turned out that he had personally given Reggie enough money to pay the rent for the entire month, specifically for that purpose, but that Reggie had instead spent it all on drugs & alcohol instead of paying me.
 
It further turned out that was now letting Reggie sleep on his sofa because he is the biggest softie on the planet, even more so than I. He told me a story about how when he had first hired Reggie, he had asked him to cover for him for a day or two so that he could have some much-needed time off. Not only did Reggie never show up, fucking the eatery, but he had absconded with 2 girls to Lisbon with a big bag of cocaine, not showing up until 2-3 days later. Why he wasn't fired is beyond me.
 
Various people started talking to me, as the story had spread. I've tried to make sure of it. I was amazed at the number of similar stories that people were telling me of almost identical events concerning Reggie.
 
There are 2 people in Lagos that have been best friends of Reggie for many, many years, going back to the UK. None of them would lift a finger to help him, offer him a place to stay, nothing. One of them, his supposed best friend in the world, told me that he would never have anything to do with Reggie financially, even though he was his best friend. He knew he would get fucked and he told me several stories of being fucked by Reggie in the past. When I asked why he was still his friend, he just shrugged.
 
One of Reggie's other odious habits is to boast/brag about his latest female conquest. In detail. Even when the woman involved is not a tourist, but is a long-time resident in Lagos and is now his 'girlfriend', Reggie couldn't wait to share the intimate details of what went on. No respect. Luckily she grew a brain and dumped his sorry ass.
 
So, this is the tale of Reggie, The Scum of Lagos. The entire town now knows the story. I've made it a point to tell anyone and everyone, trying to make sure that nobody else unwittingly falls into the Reggie trap. The outpouring of support and understanding that I have received has been truly shocking, coming from people who I had thought were close to Reggie. It seems that most people only tolerate him because they don't have much choice, but everyone knows that he is a total waste of space, never to be trusted, definitely never to be believed. As they say, if his lips are moving, he's lying.
 
Other than that, Lagos is still one of the best places I've ever lived.