A Loo Story
Bradford. United Kingdom.
It had been an interesting day in the city of mills and curries. Winter was just finding its way out of the weather calendar; and there was no better way to conclude a day after sitting through 2 hours of a British movie than to explore some Asian cuisine, with your Nigerian friend. After no deliberation, we decided to get to the best ‘nan-serving’ restaurant in West Yorkshire – Akbar’s. For many who know and know of Akbar’s, customer service and delivery are two very key features of this heaven on earth. But this isn’t how the story goes. And this isn’t a paid advert. So, moving on.
For someone with a rather fair metabolism and seemingly ‘uncooperative’ bladder, it didn’t take long for me to want to use the bathroom while we awaited the main course. However, the sad news was the obvious long queue at the loo. At this time, I had resumed dancing, only that there was no music. As awkward as it seemed, my body wouldn’t stop engaging in its non-rhythmic movement. I was grandly pressed. Moreover, within such ‘pressing’ environment, one couldn’t exactly forge ahead as we were unaware of how pressing others’ needs were.
Beyond the length of the queue – a few old ladies and my humble self – what struck me the most was the ‘non-movement’. It felt static, it was! The line didn’t seem to be moving, neither did the toilet doors seem to be opening; but of course, bowel movement was on an entirely different side of the continuum. After what seemed to be a little longer than normal, I first decided to ask the lady at the front of the queue to please check the toilet so she could use it. Her response was not exactly as shocking as my eventual finding. She hadn’t been on the queue. She might have been aware that a streak of old ladies had formed behind her, but she seemed sincerely unaware of being on a ‘pressing’ queue. How depressing!
By now of course, with one lady out, the queue had shortened, but still, there was no movement in or out of all three toilets. Even person wey chop Abacha* with Beans, Noodles and Okra** would have found her way out. Since the good old ladies decided against taking a cue from Brexit, I decided on my next move and more shocking revelation. With permission from the other ladies, I moved to check the toilets to see if the ‘occupants’ were alright and to inform them of the situation in the wider area of the loo. Lo! All loos were loose as we in the moment were losers! All the time that we waited on the ‘queue’, waiting on the loos to be available for use, there had been NO ONE in the toilets – not a single soul, but empty seats.
At this point, I knew the wizards of Abeokuta*** were at work!
Analysing the situation, my guess was that we had wasted precious time based on assumptions, as many people do. The lady who ‘queued’ behind the first lady had innocently assumed there was a queue, without asking or checking. Just like mob action, we all followed suit. However, we all may have done better by taking the lead, checking and being sure, much earlier than I did. This would have saved us productive time, and eventually wealth of the nation.
Such situations are not far-fetched. We stand on long ATM queues believing that the ‘empty’ machine shouldn’t be tried because it already didn’t work for one person. We are quick to opting out of the line because someone or a couple of people said ‘your financial institution was currently unavailable’, so we shouldn’t try and we wouldn’t, most times we don’t. Whatever happened to trying even if you would fail? It is important to avoid blind followership in whatever contexts or situations we find ourselves in.
Organisations (and that girl or boy you’re eyeing) want and need leaders or individuals who portray strong, visible leadership qualities at different levels. It is an important ‘competence’ for which one would be highly rewarded (see McKinsey and your sharp friend Boj). Those who dare to be different are the ones who are identified and made to call the shots. So as much as you can, remember to take the lead, defy the norm, and let others follow you (including that girl or boy you’re eyeing)!
*Abacha – otherwise known as garbage.
**Okra – soup like phlegm.
***Abeokuta – land of witches and wizards in Africa.