Thursday, 25 October 2007

Anonymously queuing for a flight in Nigeria

Invisible inkspots

Sometimes, I wonder about the anonymous unidentified commenting audience (UCA) that leave comments on my blog.

If anyone would take time to leave a comment, it surprises me that they cannot be bothered to leave a name, probably a link to their blog and maybe an email address.

Obviously, it is an easy thing to trace the IP address, but that is just a lot of hassle, in the end, you have so many “anonymice”, gnawing at your cheese and leaving foul droppings, but worse still, you cannot address a faceless voice or a bodiless spirit the appropriate way.

However, sometimes a UCA comes along and writes something useful, and I have sung many a church hymn attributed to Anon – it would be a whole lot more meaningful if one were also to know who received inspiration to pen such a song of praise and worship.

It is, no doubt, the prerogative of the UCA to have no identity but really, if you must write, underwrite your opinion with an identity.

A comment to publish

A comment was left by a UCA and I could not leave it hidden in the comment areas because after reading the comments I really could not imagine going through such an ordeal – it is probably as true as any experience, I dread the thought entirely.

My commentary would appear in braces {}

Here goes …

Ah, life in the civilised world … Bless!. {I suppose this means service is a product of civilisation.}

I hope you have not been away from Nigeria too long to have lost the irony of today's ranting post! {I’ll be telling, won’t I?}

"On any given day, I’ll rather have the service I paid for than the compensation and if you must compensate it should be for the inconvenience I have suffered with my qualified input into the negotiations and an act of genuine contrition, feel some pain and make me happy" {I feel no different about this anywhere I may be, whether I would get redress is a different matter.}

1. Duh!

2. Get the service you pay for? (My generator just went on, NEPA just took light {Nigerian euphemism for a power cut}, we paid our bill on Tuesday)

3. Compensation, adequate or not? HA! HA! HA!

In our part of the world, honey … shit happens. We ask why, but we don't get answers, let alone informative ones ("Your train is delayed because …"), and while you're here complaining, have a coffee on us. {That is one way to look at it – have a coffee on us, I think I have lived a too sheltered life.}

Trying to board a plane in Nigeria

In Nigeria, the scenario would have played like this: First, it'd be the airport. No railway system. {The Chinese are working in rebuilding our railway infrastructure; I once travelled from Jos to Ibadan on the trains in 1973.} Second, your flight would have been delayed indefinitely. {When I last left Nigeria, my flight was delayed for 5 hours.}

Tickets for the said flight would still continue to be sold by the airline. Hours would roll by. You’d eventually get hungry and buy a meat-pie or a similarly yuckety yuck coffee.

Eventually, although there would have been no prior announcement, you'd notice a desperate line forming. You'd remain seated, confident that you had your boarding pass and seat # in your pocket, although this being Nigeria, you'd double check. {Announcements I have heard in Lagos airports are too RP to be English, I find them comical.}

You'd look at your watch, stretch out your legs, decide there was no point taking your newspaper with you as you'd read it 3 times over already, pick up your jacket and laptop, and walk unhurriedly to the line, really, just to get a feel of what was going on. {I feel pain already.}

Your irritation to find your plane was indeed being boarded (even though there'd been no announcement) would pass in a flash … you'd be relieved that at least the plane was leaving for its destination.

By the way, you'd have missed the meeting by now, but you had other things to do in the town, catch up with an old colleague, visit a bookstore for a particular book …

Anyway, being 6 ft tall, easily 3 inches above everybody else, you would see that there were - Oh! about 30 people ahead of you, but no problem, right? {This is beginning to scare me.}

You'd pat your shirt pocket to feel your ticket and boarding pass, just to reassure yourself -- a bit like when you were little and carried the dog eared pocket sized stuffed monkey Curious George everywhere you went.

You'd notice a curious thing, the airline attendant, seeming to count heads. 'Ey, 'ey, what's this?' could she be counting heads to fill the seats, regardless of whether one has a boarding pass or not? She couldn't, could she?

Suddenly, you are no longer so confident. You wish, grown-up man that you are, Curious George was there to make you feel better. But he's not, and you are grown-up, so instead, you loosen your tie a bit and keep moving in the line.

Ah, the attendant is walking towards you. Phew, you are one of the lucky ones; you will get on the flight. But, 'ey 'ey, what’s this? She’s stopped counting 2 people ahead of you …"The plane is full", she announces. {Surely, not if you were travelling Business Class.}

"The rest of you will take the next flight". Incredulous, and in an adrenaline rush, you rudely push past her, rush through the metal detector, run out on to the tarmac - this is Nigeria, after all, although it could be Gatwick), ignoring shouts of "Sah, Sah!". {This is beyond me, I hope not.}

You rush to the plane steps and find yourself pleading with the airline official to let you get on the flight. He looks at your face. You are tired and hungry and goddamit, desperate.

'Alright sir, welcome aboard'. You say thanks, and are annoyed with yourself for seeming so grateful. You do, after all, have a boarding pass in your pocket. {This must be fictional, it really must be, I do not think I can countenance this kind of situation, probably best to stay away from Nigeria for a while longer.}

Thanks to Anonymous. - With a capital A, I stand corrected Anonywho.

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