This morning, upon checking my email I found out that I’d won the lottery on three different continents, a lawyer from Russia emailed me with details of an inheritance owed to me (evidently I’m the only known living descendant of a deceased millionaire) and I was bombarded with details and special deals for penis enlargement therapies. Despite the generous half price discount and knowledge that ‘bigger is better’ I reluctantly had to say thanks, but no thanks. It was somewhere in between deleting viagra emails and reading about erectile dysfunction medication that an email from the Nigerian National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) caught my eye. Without a word of a lie, the email read:
Subject: Nigerian Astronaut Wants To Come Home
Dr. Bakare Tunde
Astronautics Project Manager
National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA)
Garki, Abuja, FCT NIGERIA
Dear Mr/Ms. Sir,
I am Dr. Bakare Tunde, the cousin of Nigerian Astronaut, Air Force Major Abacha Tunde. He was the first African in space when he made a secret flight to the Salyut 6 space station in 1979. He was on a later Soviet spaceflight, Soyuz T-16Z to the secret Soviet military space station Salyut 8T in 1989. He was stranded there in 1990 when the Soviet Union was dissolved. His other Soviet crew members returned to earth on the Soyuz T-16Z, but his place was taken up by return cargo. There have been occasional Progrez supply flights to keep him going since that time. He is in good humor, but wants to come home.
In the 22-years since he has been on the station, he has accumulated flight pay and interest amounting to almost $ 15,000,000 American Dollars. This is held in a trust at the Lagos National Savings and Trust Association. If we can obtain access to this money, we can place a down payment with the Russian Space Authorities for a Soyuz return flight to bring him back to Earth. I am told this will cost $ 3,000,000 American Dollars. In order to access the his trust fund we need your assistance.
Consequently, my colleagues and I are willing to transfer the total amount to your account or subsequent disbursement, since we as civil servants are prohibited by the Code of Conduct Bureau (Civil Service Laws) from opening and/ or operating foreign accounts in our names.
Needless to say, the trust reposed on you at this juncture is enormous. In return, we have agreed to offer you 20 percent of the transferred sum, while 10 percent shall be set aside for incidental expenses (internal and external) between the parties in the course of the transaction. You will be mandated to remit the balance 70 percent to other accounts in due course.
Kindly expedite action as we are behind schedule to enable us include downpayment in this financial quarter.
Please acknowledge the receipt of this message via my direct number 234 (0) 9-234-2220 or reply email.
PLEASE KEEP THIS REQUEST CONFIDENTIAL.
Yours Sincerely, Dr. Bakare Tunde
Wow, how lucky am I to receive this opportunity? Who needs an University degree with business propositions like these!? I couldn’t help myself; so here is the email I wrote back to NASDRA.
Dear Mr. Bakare Tunde,
Thank you for your email and generous proposal. I’m so honored that out of the 7 billion people in the world, you’ve entrusted me with the important role of saving your cousins life. I feel like I should start by apologizing for my late response. Please do not take this to mean I am anything less than overly enthused about your proposal. For some incomprehensible reason your email was sent to my ‘spam’ box and I only discovered it this morning.
I am absolutely horrified to hear your cousin has been in space for the past 22 years. Surely that’s some sort of human rights violation? Albeit, an unprecedented one. Nonetheless, I love the sound of your deal for three reasons:
1. It’s straightforward and makes perfect sense.
2. You’ve obviously done your research.
3. I like the notion of receiving 3 million dollars for doing nothing.
Now, whilst your email did vaguely explain how it came to be that your cousin is currently in space, I’m struggling to understand a few of the finer details. Would you be so kind as to indulge a few of my questions?
(a) Where exactly in ‘space’ is he? Can we google map his location?
(b) How hasn’t your cousin turned into jelly yet?
(c) How is he entertaining himself? Is he currently watching the Olympics? If so, is he as bored with them as we are?
(d) Remind me again, how is he not jelly yet?
(e) By ‘bringing him back’, do you mean in a small plastic container with just his remains?
(f) You stated, “he’s in good humor, but wants to come home.” He’s been in space for 22 years and is still in good humor? Really? Even Ghandi would have cracked it by now.
(g) Does your cousin have any mental retardations which would explain the fact he’s still in ‘good humor’?
(h) How is the internet connection up in space?
(i) Does he have any conclusive proof that aliens exist yet?
(j) What about unicorns?
(k) The ‘progrez flights’ that are bringing him supplies, why don’t they also give him a lift home?
(l) Do you or he blame the Soviets for this ‘mishap’?
(m) What kind of compensation will your cousin be looking to receive when he returns and from who? It’s just that Europe and the US don’t have a lot of money right now so I’m wondering how his court case may affect the markets.
(n) Why doesn’t your organization fund his trip back home? Surely NASRDA has some spare change hiding behind the couch?
(o) Are you in regular contact with your cousin? How do you know he’s still alive and not floating towards another galaxy as we speak?
(p) How exactly has your cousin been getting oxygen to breathe for the past 22 years?
Now Mr. Tunde, I also have a minor confession to make. I foolishly didn’t read to the end of your email before acting on it. So, before I got to your express request to keep the information confidential, I became absurdly excited and began ringing friends and saying silly things like “I’m rich! I’m rich!”
I admit, I went over the top, not just with my prideful and presumptuous pronouncements, but with the sheer number of people I rang. I literally contacted every single person I have ever had even the shortest conversation with, some of whom work for Government departments such as the Australian Federal Police and ATO. Do you think my unrestrained exuberance could in any way have compromised our imminent transaction?
If the answer is no, I would also like to know, what exactly are my tax implications for this transaction? I, like you am very keen to do this by the book so am just wondering.
Thank you for taking the time to read and answer my questions. I look forward to hearing from you shortly about the next steps in our transaction.
With kind regards and a little too much excitement,
Here’s hoping I get a reply.