Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The lonely Brinks 'stockroom' man

It's one of those days when you read things in your spam inbox for entertainment. Usually I just peruse the subject lines, but I happened to open one of the typical Nigerian spam messages and realized just how quaint some of the assumptions are.

I am happy to write to you this mail. I am glad that i have you as a friend and i hope that this mail gets to you with all happiness in your mind to help me out in this crucial matter.

First and foremost i want to tell you that i am the chief accountant with the Brinks Hellas Security Company Athens Greece with head quarters in Athens. i want to tell you that this matter all started last year 2004 when i was rounding up accounts for the year ended and also taking into stock what was in store.
Here we have a scenario worthy of the opening chapter of a Graham Greene novel. The formal, overly polite clerk of the Athens office of Brinks, somewhat marooned in his dusty backroom with God knows whatall. At the end of the year it's time to "round up" accounts, and he takes stock of "what was in store." Did I say Greene? It's almost Biblical.
Actually, I was taking into stock all the treasuries we have left, both the ones claimed and the ones not claimed, when i realized that there was this consignment that has been in the store room for about a year and a half now and no one has come to claim it. Really, i have been with this organization for about five years and know exactly when the consignments came in.

The actual destination of the consignments is from Malaysia belonging to one Mr. Hang Chen. All this stocks have been in my books and it is only me that knows whose goods have been claimed and whose goods are still in the store. ...
The letter then goes into the usual details designed to make the story more plausible -- the length of time (four months) Mr. Chen's goods were supposed to remain in the storeroom, a subplot about Mr. Chen flying to Dublin (of all places), and finally the literal money shot:
Now when i checked out the consignment late last year i decided to Scan it and found out that the consignments actually contains money and to my knowledge it contains 3 million dollars which are wrapped up. Honestly, this consignments has passed out the time lapse and i have already written it off the books.
Und so weiter. What impressed me was the opening: the figure of the lonely stockroom clerk, undoubtedly middle-aged; he's over-educated for a stockroom clerk, which raises the question of how he wound up there in the first place -- no doubt a sad tale of frustrated ambition, a sabotaged career, and bad luck. He passes the time by opening up unclaimed packages, really just out of curiosity. Imagine his surprise when he finds the three million dollars (dollars, not drachmas, yuan, Euros or whatever they use in Malaysia).

If it were a Greene book, the ensuing chapters might deal with shadowy agents seeking the true provenance of the three million dollars. It would turn out there was no such person as a Mr. Hang Chen. Inevitably, a lovely woman in her mid-30s with a classical name such as Helen or Daphne would appear mixed up in the thing, probably trying to protect someone, and the storeroom man would have to choose between his secret love for her and his moral duty.

But they don't write them that way anymore, except in spam emails.


No comments: