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March 2, 2024

Lessons from last Monday, by Francis Ewherido

Francis ewherido

Last Monday was sharply different for me. The screen of my phone went blank over the weekend. Consequently, I was also blank for much of the weekend. It is not as if I am addicted to phones. I use it basically for calls, emails, messages and getting knowledge and information online. I only use one handset because, like a spouse, I cannot handle two.

After losing two phones when I was using two handsets, I started using only one and I have not misplaced any in the last 15 years. Phone manufacturers had people like me in mind and started making phones with provision for dual Sims. That helped me to partly overcome the problem of poor network, the primary reason why some people have more than one phone number.

Switching and mastering the usage of Nokia, blackberry and other brands was tough for me and once I got used to android, I never switched again. In those days, I would not have repaired the phone. I would simply have gone to get a new phone. I was very intolerant of the disruptions caused by faulty electronics. These days, the first option is to repair. 

On Monday morning, instead of the usual Monday morning routine, I headed for Computer Village, Lagos. On entering the car, I noticed that I forgot my wallet, but I did not bother since my wife was with me and she was driving. I did not need my driver’s license, or so I thought. Lesson number one, always go out carrying an identification. I broke the same rule I drive into my children’s head because I was with my wife. What if the NLC demonstration was that day, got caught I got arrested?

When we got to the mall, where we usually parked, I wanted to go with her as usual, but she said the building where the repairer had his office was a multi-story building. My right knee is still healing, so I do not climb beyond first floor for now. Lessons number two: Do not assume when facts are available. 

When my wife was leaving the mall, I remembered people pay to use the toilet even to do the “small one” (urinate). I collected N400 from her just in case I needed to use the toilet. After she left, I remembered I had nothing to keep me busy; no phone, book, newspaper, etc. I also had no money to engage in any activity. I was totally unprepared for the period I would be waiting. Lessons three: Always be prepared and take more money than you need. It is better to bring back extra money than be stranded.

I resent idleness. Without a phone, book and money, I decided to get busy by observing my environment, another way to gather information that we were taught in school. The mall is very neat and beautiful like malls abroad. The cleaners were cleaning per second. Two people littered the floor. Within a minute that I was distracted the bottle of water and used tissue had disappeared before I looked again. Then I asked myself, why can’t the whole of Lagos be clean like this? Then I learnt the fifth lesson. The management of the mall is intentional and deliberate about keeping the mall clean. Lagosians, the Lagos State and local governments need to be intentional and deliberate to make Lagos clean all round, not in patches. 

 I couple passed with their baby. The husband was fully dressed in Kaftan and the baby girl was all dressed up, but the wife was wearing bum shorts and a skimpy top in a mall! You know why? She has flawless skin and she wanted the world to know. Why will a man be fully dressed and allow his wife to go out with him half naked? When the hawks hover around and anyone succeeds in plucking her, even if once, you cry blue murder that “my wife cheated on me.” Lesson six: A wife a private property, an asset, guard her jealously.

After what looked like an eternity my wife showed up to my relief. Time to go to home. As a rule I use the toilet before the leaving the house and I also use the toilet before departing from anywhere I go to. You never know with Lagos traffic. The mall charges N100 per entry whether you are doing the “big one” or “small one.” The toilets were very neat.

After washing my hands, I wanted to dry them. The hand dryer was faulty. They had no hand toilet paper to dry hands, which is the minimum standard abroad. There was also no toilet paper in the toilet because I suspect people take them away. I then asked for tissue. They gave me the cheapest of tissue I have ever seen. I was shocked. After paying N100 just to “piss,” the service is substandard? Seventh lessons: Maintain standards all the way, pay attention to details and give people value for their money.

It was already after 3pm. I am pre-diabetic, but I do not take drugs. I use food to control my blood sugar. My wife asked if we should buy food. “Mee? After spending money I did not budget for fixing my phone, N1,600 for parking ticket and another N200 for the two times I used the toilet. I will eat when I get home. Just buy me a bottle of coke so that if my blood sugar level drops suddenly before we get home, half a bottle of coke will take care of it.” Lesson eight: Prepare for emergency.

When we got home I was expecting my usual soup and blended oat. I saw eba, my former addiction, which I jettisoned to control blood sugar. “Once in a while cannot cause damage, I said to myself. Instead of getting angry, I descended on it and had my lunch/dinner. Lesson nine: Marriage is full of landmines. Diffuse the ones you see. At some point in my marriage, I decided that food will never cause a rift between my wife and I. Final lesson: Husband, eat whatever your wife sets before you. Wife: By now you should know what your husband likes. But in unusual situations, both of you should show understanding.

That was my last Monday. In the night, did EKEDC give me light to allow me sleep off the stress? For where! As at today (Thursday) EKEDC, has been dribbling me and promising to sort out my faulty meter to no avail for over a week. My heavy eaters are on holiday and my wife prepared for them, but she has been throwing away one bowl of spoilt food after the other. I can’t run the generator 24/7.

Generator should be a stand by source of power, not the only source. All week, some EKEDC staff spoke with me and assured me of fixing the meter. But one of the bosses who groomed me had disdain for efforts. He wanted results, not efforts. Privatization of the power sector is now like privatization of assets and inefficiency. Sad.