It was 2016. And Ibitola Ojoye, an award-winning author, was hosting a writers seminar in Lagos and I was very much interested but I couldn’t attend. So the writing team I belonged to decided it was best to pay for those of them in Lagos, to attend, so they could, in turn, share what they gained with the rest of us.
I asked for the bank details so I could pay the seminar fee via SMS banking.
On Saturday, I tried transferring the required sum but I kept getting a message that says “Invalid account number.” I wondered what was wrong so I got back to the organizers to confirm if the account was ok. It was. I didn’t want to go to the bank due to lack of time, but at the same time, I needed to make payment so I could secure the seats of those who would be attending.
As at that time, I was working at an NGO that had just started in Benin.
So the following morning, I left the house early enough, knowing full well I was in for long queues.
The series of standing and waist hurting exercise started from my junction. Thanks to Bubu, fuel matter get as e be that time. Transportation was high and a lot of busses refused to work. At my junction, every day is drama rehearsal as getting a bus early is a case of survival of the fittest. You’ll find yourself struggling with so many people just to get into one small bus.
Now, imagine struggling to get in a bus. You smile because you’re one of those who got in. Only for the driver to announce that he isn’t going through where you’re supposed to come down.
Well, I’m happy to announce that I finally survived another struggle and got into a bus. I stopped where I needed to and dashed into GT Bank. The time was 8:05 am or thereabout.
At the ATM, I met a long queue and I joined them. After waiting about 15 minutes and the line wasn’t moving, I had to ask what was going on.
Then I was told, “The workers were yet to put money in the ATM machine. I nearly cried. Some customers ran inside so as to use the fast track system. The queue inside was longer. They ran back.
We waited till about 8:45 AM before cash was put in the machine and by 9:15, it finally got to my turn. Nope! I couldn’t make a transfer, so I quickly withdrew the amount I needed and left.
From there, I found my way to Zenith bank and there, the ATM machine was free. I just withdrew what I needed and walked away. No wasting time. I hailed them for that.
If you’re wondering why I didn’t use both ATM cards at GT Bank, wonder no more. I don’t want a situation where the ATM ceases my Zenith card. I would cry because of what I know will follow.
Now that your silent question has been answered, let’s continue.
Finally, I got to Eco Bank to pay in the cash. After filling my deposit slip, I stood like, kilode, for another 50 minutes. I had to send a text to the office that I would be very late. Thank God for understanding.
By the time I was done, my waist was hurting badly. Only for me to get to the office and my oga had written a cheque, waiting for me.
“Good morning sir.” I greeted as I stepped in.
“Karo, how now?”
“Please bring your ID card. I need you to help me get to the bank. After cashing out, go over to GT Bank and pay some of the money into this account (he showed me the account details written on a sheet of paper). Then bring back the rest.”
So, the journey started again. My waist was still hurting from standing in long queues but I had no choice. I got to Zenith and met another long queue. I managed to survive it. After cashing, I walked some reasonable distance to GT BankB along Sapele road. There, I filled my deposit slip again and joined the queue.
Phew! At that point, I had to squat while in the line. Lol. I couldn’t bear the pain anymore. When I was finally able to pay in, I was happy to be done with banking for the day.
Now, throughout the whole exercise, a lot of people, men and women alike, will go and sit down at the side after telling you “I am at your back o!” or “I’m at your front”. Lol. Then just when you think the queue is progressing and almost your turn: let’s say two people before you, you see them trooping in and you’re back to having five or ten people in front of you.
“I have been here before o!” they’ll respond when you question them. And those who they told about their positions, lol, will confirm it. I almost got pissed and denied knowing if anyone was in front of me, beside me, behind me or above me. Seriously, why will I stand for so long, over 40 minutes, sometimes an hour and thirty minutes, like I did at UBA last week, only for someone to come from nowhere and say, I’m in front of you? If those standing don’t maintain the line, will there be a line to come back to? Or do they think that those of us standing are mumus?
The annoying part is that people who weren’t even in the line will come, forming vex.
“I dey here before o!” they’ll argue. Then cut eye for anyone who is soft-hearted enough to let them or a friend of theirs. The so-called friend or soft-hearted person will then say “it’s true o!” this person was in front of me. This one is serious corruption. No be only our leaders dey corrupt.
My experience reminded me of a guy who shared his experience of this same issue abroad. He was in the line, alright. It’s not like he was sitting in a corner, waiting for his turn. But as the line progressed, he suddenly needed to do something at the side. So he told the white man I’m front of him. “Please, I’m behind you.” the white man nodded. Turning around, he told the white guy behind, “Please, I’m in front of you. I just need to quickly take care of something. The man nodded.
My dear Naija brother went about his business as quickly as he could and within 10 minutes, he was back. But those two men refused to allow him to resume his position. He tried to explain that he was there before. He even showed them what was so important for him to do that took him out of the line. But they insisted that since he left the line, he must go back to the start. He was sad, but he had no choice.
If it was our banks, lol, they’ll ignore all of us on the queue or those sitting at corners just to attend to one white man who didn’t even join the queue. That again my friends, is corruption.
So please, let us talk. How do you think this issue can be solved. The issue of waiting long hours in the queue while others sit down, only to jump back in. Should they be treated the way the white men treated our nNaijabrother? What about these same white men assuming royalty status in our banks instead of joining the queue? What should we do about it.
As for me, I think the line should be maintained. It’s either you’re in it, or you’re not. Unless the person in question isn’t feeling well or is heavily pregnant. Outside of that, no dulling. Stand in the queue or get out. Simple.
As for our white men skipping queues, what do we have mouth for? A protest, yes? We are all equals and should be treated as such. A white man won’t treat you as royalty in his country, and I see no reason why he shouldn’t join a queue in mine.
But it’s annoying when you want to protest and the people around you refuse to join their voices with yours. They smile at oyinbo and forget their right.
I end my matter here o. Biko, over to you people. Please share your thoughts on this.