The short story takes place in an undefined (presumably African) city. Against a backdrop of recent democratic elections and barely contained social unrest, the main character makes a trip to town to purchase items for an office party. Anxious about balancing accounts, wilting from the heat and suffering a piercing migraine which is aggravated by the urban bustle, she drifts off in traffic and hits the car in front of her. The perceived class differences between herself and the pedestrians in the market threaten to inflame the situation, but she escapes an unfortunate fate by offering a token amount and begging for mercy. After much wrangling, the crowd relents.