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Everyday in Naija: “Anything For Us?”

You arrive the airport dishevelled and in need of oxygen, because you’ve been running since you woke up; first to the bathroom, then around your house like a squirrel, trying to find your dress, your shoe, even your hair was nowhere to be found. Then, you ran to the car, in fact, it took you everything not to come down from the car and start running because the Uber driver was too busy driving like he could return your ticket fare if you missed the flight.

At the airport, you arrive the entrance door panting and almost toppling over. A non-smiling security lady stops you at the door asking that you take off your shoes and pass through the scan. You grumpily obey because she looks like she would beat you if you don’t do as she says. You bend to take off your shoes but you release a very loud hiss because you wore the rope sandals, not the slippers you always remind yourself to wear but never do. While you are struggling with the tangled rope of your Moses sandals, the security lady, who suddenly switches off the frown and is now smiling sheepishly and doing absolutely nothing to help you out of this clumsy situation, says:

“Remember us oh!”

Ignoring her, you cross the scan and she stops you, patting you down to check for… (what sef? Bomb?), you feel like spitting at her in disgust but she’s back to looking like she will beat you, so you jejely carry yourself and your suitcase to your airline’s desk.

Mr Fofo, behind the desk, is probably angry with Nigeria’s economy because his scowl is big enough to give OBJ a run for his money.

“I’m flying to Abuja…,” you start, but Mr Fofo turns around and comments on an argument happening 10 miles away that does not concern him.

“Please here’s my ticket number,” you try again handing him your phone.

He hesitates, looking at the phone like, ‘what is all this’, then he collects it and starts stabbing his computer keyboard.

“I have luggage o,” you say watching his fingers on the keyboard with genuine fear for your life.

“Why didn’t you say?” he asks looking at you for the first time.

Ah! The redness of his eyes does not let you utter any word in response. You swallow saliva vowing that when you tell the ordeal to your colleagues on Monday, you would tell them that you showed Mr Fofo pepper for talking to you like that.

“Please put it on that scale.” Mr Fofo finally says.

You quickly carry your suitcase like a child trying to please his parent and keep it on the scale. A smiling luggage ‘handler’ appears from nowhere to check the weight, his lemon vest brighter than neon lights.

“Anything for your boys?” the handler asks.

“Oga, please I don’t want to miss my flight,” you say urging him to get on with it. He grumpily starts to tag your suitcase and then turns to another staff standing next to him, whispering just loud enough for you to hear,

“All these runs girls. After they collect Chief’s money dey no dey like to share,”

You want to put him in his place, but you decide he’s not worth it. You’re about to head over to the waiting area when he rudely stops you.

“Go check your bag,” he says pointing offhandedly at the luggage security scan room.

You head over to the room and another guy in a lemon vest points at you.

“Na you get that green bag bah? Abeg, razor dey inside am. Go comot am.”

Under your breath, you curse his ancestors and every one before them. It took all your dinner to get that bag to close. How could he expect you to open it now?

“Oya, find us something make you go,” he says

“Let me go and remove the razor,” you say pissed as hell.

“Oya, aunty go,” he says.

When you get to the waiting area, you confirm that your flight hasn’t been announced, and you make a beeline for the rest room.

Finally, you meet the best worker yet at the airport–the Janitor. She makes sure the toilet is clean, she gives you a big roll of tissue, she’s even about to enter the stall and help you out when you smile politely and let her know you can handle it yourself. When you’re done she helps with the liquid soap to wash your hands, even helps you with the hand dryer. You’re so impressed you reach into your bag to tip her, and she says,

“Anything for us aunty,”

You angrily shut your bag and head out cursing the entire airport work force.

Immediately you find a decent seat, the female voice with the non-traceable accent comes on the P.A system and announces that your flight has been delayed by two hours. You want to scream, take off your sandals and throw at someone. But you don’t. You’d probably be locked up, and then you’ll miss your flight, and the conference, and then your boss would fire you, and you’ll be out on the streets with three words on your lips– “anything for us?”

So you sit back, close your eyes and respect yourself.

To Be Continued…

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