Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A ‘Blue Clip’ in a School of Lines: ATM Story

The University of Ilorin is a school of lines. The prevalent situation in the school compels you to queue up practically at every instance to get any service whatsoever. You have line for all sorts of things; to get on the bus, to use the ATM, to get your final year passport, to get into the auditorium, and even to use the toilet (sorry for blowing it up just a little bit, but superfluity is my forte, a trait am sure you’re not unfamiliar with).

But then, hold up just a little bit, – just before you start thinking the UNILORIN students have a rich history of being civil – the lines started only very recently. Until recently, it was always a fisticuffs breeding huddles that lined these places where you now have lines of all sorts; curvy lines, wavy lines, straight lines, zig and zags and all other ones that simply cannot be conveyed in words. I still wonder what now started the queuing culture within the campus.

Well, I may have been a tad off-beam when I said the huddles were fisticuffs catalysts. They actually never go as far. Most of them never morphed into a full-blown free for all, usually, people just put forward their sane faces and bottle down their raging emotions. After all, it’s Unilorin and Tanke is never short of spaces for those that are ready to “face it”.

Oh….”face it” is quoted; of course, it is a culture specific concept of which the effect of its prevalent meaning is the nightmare of any sane Nigerian student.
In UNILORIN here most especially, expulsion – the whole concept of Tanke facing – haunts students at every turn, especially when all you need do is drum up a little storm. The school takes it up from there. The natural pattern is, the school dubs the little misdemeanour a gross misconducts and e-mail you your departure coordinates from the campus.

Ergo, as opposed to the concept of the UNILORIN students being civil, the silence of a UNILORIN student – or restraint from violent outburst – is not a result of an internal mechanism that preaches “cool it”, it’s actually a fallout of an higher motivation – Tanke.

Well, don’t I digress. Back to the lines, on one of which I had gotten the spur to write on the school of lines.
It was the traditional Ilorin afternoon, the sun was at its highest and the blistering heat rebounding from the paved floor was warming up all of my extremities, or perhaps grilling my very little body fat would convey the real picture of the intensity of the galactic yellow ball.

I had been standing on that spot for circa 15 minutes revising my grocery list and other miscellaneous things I am to do with the dough that will be spilling into my hands in few minutes when I finish my quick inter-dimensional chitchat with the ATM.
I am not sure if you are starting to get the gist here. While being grilled by the big vindictive sun, I comforted myself with the thoughts of the potentialities of the money I am about to withdraw, that, which I do not consider a bad deal anyway.

Well, that didn’t last long, someone was going to open my Pandora’s box. Oops, was going to? He already had. From somewhere that cannot be determined by the most efficient map-making machine, a burly “blue clip” came clomping into the line.

“Excuse Me, Thank you”, he said with a smug while getting right in from of the next person who by the principles of queues has the dibs to use the ATM.  

By the way, “blue clip”, which until the very recent regime had been a “blue tag” within the screwed UNILORIN cosmopolis, are the members of staffs, who regardless of the market value of their certificates or the purchasing prowess of their paycheck can speed up your trip to road 7 – right into “face Tanke” boulevard. I know, it’s pathetic, but that’s what we are stuck with and still are stuck with.

So, our “blue clip” friend cut into the queue right at the mouth, did his business like his fada installed the ATM, while most of the guys there just gaped like poor Popeye short on spinach – aside me of course, I was boiling, literally. The guy who was shoved off spot by the “blue clip” just stared like he had a duct tape over his mouth – he obviously thought this was crap, but dare he speak?

Well, I was not going to settle for any of that. I could feel little vapour starting to radiate from my head; my boiling point has peaked. I waited for the man to finish his business, took a deep breath, composed myself, ridding myself of the basal tantrum reaction and delivered my first zinger.

“So, who died?” I asked with a blank innocent stare embedded with subtle you-know-you-are-wrong look. A look of consternation assorted with mild confusion and bewilderment played across his visage.

“Excuse me” He ventured, re-enacting his earlier smug demeanour.

“Well, I was just wondering what made your withdrawal so important that it automatically overrides the need of every other person here to withdraw.”

He seemed to catch my drift there. He was probably trying to process the semiotics of the statement, because it took him a while to give a response.

Well, he responded, after a long while. He rambled, droned and singsonged, and the summary of it all; “I have the right” capped it all. And that was all the tinder I needed to blow up the Twin Tower, of course, I still pounded my basal instinct of tantrum into solitary confinement – I have had a good run for three years, I better not blow it up in my final year. 

He seemed to me like a reasonable fella on the long run, I didn’t know where it came from, but I practically “stood him up” (alternate sat him down) – “respectfully” – to lecture him on how global citizens behave.

“As a member of staff with all due respect sir, established social protocol does not allow you to advocate ‘shunting’, if anything, you should condemn it. But pity, even you have fallen for your very crude Nigerian instinct of line jumping which am sure does none any good.”

He ventured to speak. I held up my hand – I am still talking.

“You are expected to set an example of civility sir, but alas, even you! I must say, I am really disappointed, not only with you but also with the system that can employ a being so shorn on civility.” He ventured again, I still held up my hand – still talking sir.
:) Alright, I didn’t take it that far. But then, I really did gave him a piece of my mind. I will not give you the details of the rest of the conversation. That is assured to bore the life out of you. But after a while, he seem to concede, he could not match the veracity of my argument, so he backed off. Until later.

He came back to tell me my approach was wrong, and for the fact that I am studying Law does not give me the latitude to address him in the manner I did. I just shook my head to suppress my urge to say really really awful things to him. Law my foot. I really still do not realize how better I could have approached him; perhaps he’d have preferred a punch in the face as conversations starter.

I find it a little repulsive; some petty functionary because of the privilege afforded by a nifty little “blue clip” ride roughshod over us, who possess incalculable potentials. Granted he is deprived of enough civility to properly seek an injunction to use the ATM before every other individual on the line, he could at least seek the potentials radiating in the atmosphere and respect that.

But pity, some are not robbed of civility but also of perception.

As last words, I can beg, but I won’t. I will rather just tell you. Never be short on civility, never think you are smart and act on it. Most people just think you are stupid when you try jumping a line. Be a world citizen; observe the queue – especially when you are “blue clip”. 

Sidenote: I know I didn't complete the Burial Tale, I dunno, I didn't get the muse. No apologies, there really was nothing much to relish anyway.