I happened to pay a visit to the bank premises the day the cashless Lagos scheme flagged off. This wasn’t deliberate since I’m not a glutton for punishment. Was it pleasant? No. Will I put myself through it again or avoid it at all cost? You know the simple answer to that one, although since this article was born during that sojourn, I hear you say I shouldn’t complain too much!
When I went to the bank that morning I was totally clueless the event was going live that day since the date wasn’t one I’d bothered to put on my calendar. The situation I witnessed was more like dead-on-arrival rather than one with life in it.
I say this because that morning the queues were moving at speeds less than snail pace and frustration gradually seeped in. After about forty minutes on the line I overheard a teller apologise with, ‘sorry o, our system is very, very slow.’ We had already worked that out and the funny thing is that no ‘official’ apology was made by the bank management in the two hours spent there.
It was a hoot to see people react once they gained entrance into the hall. Hehn! Aah! Heads wagged vigorously from side to side and in some instances an immediate about face to the security doors and a quick getaway was their response. Are these people working at all? Was the sort of question directed in the general direction of bank staff. My response (quietly of course) was no, they left home to come out and play with you. I could understand where the frustrations were springing from but it wasn’t any less irritating for it to be voiced in such an unimaginative way.
Inevitably the story swapping began, comparison of inter-branch services of the same institution and between rivals were exchanged. Someone that had already been to another bank that morning bemoaned her fate. Although the same person received a call and informed the person at the other end to wait for her since she was about done…this when there was no way she’d be attended to within the next thirty minutes! Someone else left only to return and find us still on the same spot!
Standing upright became impossible and the walls, doors and other available surfaces were promptly leaned on. A woman with a child in tow made good use by turning one into a chair. A man that had a little boy with him scared him into good behaviour by threatening him thus, ‘the police will take you.’ I personally didn’t find that funny but it was effective enough.
Nigerians have progressed with their adherence to queuing although it’s not yet perfect. So we had the customary glib jumping by various individuals and some people in the older generation did this quite shamelessly. There was also the idiot that came and demanded that people line up properly in order for him to see those ahead of him. I will not go into details of the various odours that assailed the nostrils neither of the people that walked out when they could no longer endure the stress.
Some characters stood out by wearing really dark sunglasses and quietly standing still. Others yet sang to themselves. A few more conducted conversations at the top of their lungs and promptly filled us in on their various appointments and commitments. Ring tones better suited for outdated jingles were par for the course during this time out. Like every Nigerian there that day, I survived the ordeal and lived to share the tale!