Monday, April 28, 2008

Why I love CD Days

I love Community Development days. It’s the only day I wear my corper gear, which I love wearing (seriously, I do. My friends tease me about this all the time). It’s also the only day I can explore the city and get into a little trouble. Take last week, on my way back from CD, a bus conductor wanted to chance me. Instead of the N20 change I was supposed to get, he extended N10. Eh? I didn’t touch it. The fare is usually N30, not N40. He nodded once as if to say, “bring it on.” The battle lines were drawn and I was FULLY up to the task ;)

What do I look like? A JJC, just because I’m in corper khaki?I didn’t get off the bus when we reached my stop. A nice man beside me tried to pacify me by giving me N20, but nope, didn’t take it.

I had been challenged to a fight, and wasn’t about to acquiesce. I got down from the bus, squeezed my face and told Mr. conductor and his driver (and my bus audience) that I ply that route every week for N30, not N40 as he claimed. So—give me my twenty naira change.

So there I was, holding up the bus—thoroughly embarrassed, yet too stubborn to back down. Besides, I was fueled by the passengers who were now rooting for me: “Conductor, shey na for N10 you dey behave like this?” (mind you the same thing could have been said of me, but hey I’m a fyne girl ;). Even his driver told him to oblige me. He refused, but unfortunately for him, he didn’t have a N10 note. “Oya find N10 give her now,” some fellow corpers at the back of bus jested at him. When he started asking around for a N10 note, I decided I had proven my point and told him to take N100 and give me N60 change. Maybe he didn’t understand the math or he decided that omode lo n se mi (I was being childish) and I’d held up his bus long enough, but he finally grumbled and gave me my N20.

Gbosa!

Monday, April 21, 2008

What I don’t miss about America

Ofcourse there's a flip side to every coin. So here goes:

· Fuel prices. Y’all can keep your $3 per gallon gas prices.

· Winter. Breathing out smoky breath is cool, but icy winds and slippery snow don’t go down well with me. Add the fact that I’m always cold because I can’t stand sweaters! Yuck. I itch just thinking about them. Grad school must be in the Caribbean, California or Texas.

· Automatic carwashes or those high powered hoses. Nothing gets your car cleaner than human hands, a rag and a bucket of water. And my hands prefer to pay other hands to do that which reminds me…

· Expensive labor. There’s no N50 vulcanizer or N1, 000 electrician in America, the land of do-it-yourself. You will pay through your nose for the simplest repair. It just propagates waste because it’s often wiser to buy a new item than fix an old one at such high a cost.

· T-Mobile surprise bills—If you’re on a family plan with chatty girls, you never know what your bill looks like until it’s due in two weeks! My all time highest? $400 (but come to think of it, I have friends who spend much more than this on monthly recharge cards in Nigeria.

· Calling customer service. Someone needs to tell those companies that we don’t like talking to automated voices and pressing O, then 1, then 5, then 7. JUST GIVE ME THE HUMAN!

· Being told: “Oh wow, you speak really good English!” I learned to just shut my mouth and smile in response to that one.

· HAIR SALONS! I could not get over paying $50 for retouching or $120 for braids or weavon. Hair that you will throway in 2-4 weeks! Me? I used to stretch styles for months so tey my sibs, friends and even my pastor used to beg me to loosen my hair.

·The IRS and the INS. Taxes and immigration...mmh, let me not say anything, they might be watching….

Friday, April 18, 2008

Things I miss about America

Okay, I know my peeps often wonder how I'm surviving my new environment--I am loving it here! But there are some things I've missed about my American life:

· Online Shopping! If you wear a size 2 or 20, a 35”inseam, and you’re not ready to drop $100
for a pair of pants, online shopping is the way to go! Plus, I love getting packages in the mail. (If you battle with Steve Urkel trousers, Alloy, Gap, Victoria Secret and Zara have you covered)

· Customer service. In America, the customer is always right; in Nigeria they will abuse you out of their shop.

· Constant electricity. It feels weird even writing this. To think that we still don’t have it 24/7 in 2008?! It breaks my heart.

· Cell phone minutes. My average American conversation: 20 minutes. My average Nigerian conversation: 2:20mins. Cell phone rates are still too expensive here in my opinion.

· The great American highways. Set the cruise control, pop in the CDs and you’re set for a road trip. No worries about pot holes, robbers, or brake-less trailers! Just the cut throat speeding ticket.

· Easy and cheap access to books. Like most bloggers, I have an incurable addiction to books.

· High speed internet! Not the Nigerian version of high speed.

· DriveThrus! Not a junk food junkie, but sometimes it don’t get better than a $3 lunch from Wendy’s (if you’ve never tried it, please do—chili, salad and burger, 99 cents each)

· And of course, my peeps! Kisses, hugs, sniffles, I’ll be over to visit soon!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I had totally forgotten about the Nigerian toaster…

When a woman is supposed to be parading with suitors, I am dodging a toaster. I haven’t had a toaster since I was a teenager running around with one of the estate bad boys. I was new to the ‘hood then and feeling the fine boy’s sweet mouth until my mother threatened to call the police the next time she sighted his jaga jaga head around our house.

But my dear men, at this age, a toaster is not cool. A young man who calls on you when he’s bored and feeds you lame lines in hopes of catching some fun—cliché. We’ve been neighbors for six months (he’s a corper too) but his lines started recently when I was on my way to work. I was yielding for traffic at a bus stop, when he taps my window and gets into the car. We make small talk. Nothing unusual until he sends me a text later that night saying “Tanx 4 d ride baby I miss u and my heart desires and want u.” He follows up with a call because he wants to hear my voice before he sleeps and says he’ll call me first thing in the morning so he can wake up to my voice. Eh? Am I in a bad nollywood script?

I begin to screen his calls. But you can’t dodge your neighbor for long. He catches me one day and with our property wall between us, I tell him I didn’t like his text or his lines. With characteristic cockiness, he laughs it off as “just being friendly”, but quickly adds that being friendly can lead to something. I am feeling like a harassed 16 year old. So for now, I am playing hide and seek.

…and the Petrol Queue!

On Monday I drove into the petrol station at 7:20 a.m. feeling like a smart chick only to find smarter drivers already there. The queue was longer than I expected. My dearest dad with whom I drive to town with every morning was still at home. We were supposed to do this together but I didn’t want to be late to work. He’s an oga who can resume whenever. Me? Am at the other end of the hierarchy. I can always pull the corper card in the face of lateness, but I don’t like talking too much early in the morning. So I decided to get a head start, get fuel and return home to pick him up. I didn’t leave the station until two hours later. NYSC orientation camp introduced me to the culture of shunting but I didn’t know that cars also jump queues! Nobody is their brother’s keeper on a Nigerian petrol queue. Noborry.

So when my turn finally arrives at the pump, almost two hours later, the attendant fuels two bike drivers then turns to me and says: “anti, you go find one N200 for us oh!”After your slow crawling queue, the first thing that comes out of your month is a half-demanding, corrupted request for more of my money?

I put on my best agbero accent and tell him no oh! After all, he allowed the okada drivers to chance me! He apologizes and asks how much I will give him. I feel bad, but unfortunately I have no change and neither does my dad who is annoyed anyways and not in the mood to part with his money. I tell the fueler to stop short of the N3000 I’m buying and keep the change, but the attendant grumbles because I didn’t tell him sooner and they shove my 30 naira change in my face. Na wa! for your people.