In the course of work and life in general I have come across some statements that are concise yet powerful. The implication of such verbal statements is usually what deters the recipients from challenging them in the first place. I have been at the receiving end of some of such statements and I have also gotten accounts from friends about short statements that can send shudders down the spine of the average Nigerian. I took it upon myself to dig deep into my past experiences plus those of others and decided to share some of my observations with a few illustrations:
1. The economy is still suffering the aftermath of the global meltdown and everyone is struggling to make ends meet. You arrive at the office one day and notice that all your colleagues looking deeply worried about something. You dare to ask and then one of them whispers to you and says ‘They’re sacking staff’. Now you’re not sure whether your precious job is going to be yours much longer. Everyday is like a game of Russian Roulette and you consider joining some of your colleagues in ‘Brown-nosing’ your boss.
2. Imagine you are driving back late at night from work and you are stuck in traffic. You decide to wind down your windows for some air (because on this particular day there happens to be a petrol strike, remember?) but you failed to notice a motorcycle coming from behind with two suspicious passengers on board. The next thing that happens is that the passenger at the back of the bike grabs your neck through the window opening and says ‘Bring your bag’ or ‘Bring your phone’ or ‘Bring your chain’ or ‘Bring your wallet’. In your presumed state of shock you have no choice but to comply. You look around for someone to come to your rescue but all the other drivers in the traffic jam are busy winding up their own windows (as they are actively learning from your ongoing experience). After your ordeal those are three words you’d never forget.
3. You are just arriving in London after a succession of disappointing runs with the British Embassy in Lagos whilst trying to obtain a visa. You are standing in line with the other passengers waiting to check out of the Immigration point. You are already thinking about all the gear you’re going to spend your traveller’s cheques on when suddenly a hefty Immigration officer sneaks up to you and says ‘Step aside, please’. It’s embarrassing. It immediately puts you on the defensive since you are 100% certain at that point that you are not guilty of anything. What’s worse is watching some of the ‘holier-than-thou’ passengers shake their heads as you are escorted off to a nearby interrogation room for some grilling.
4. You’ve had a long, hard day at the office and you’re looking forward to closing time. You decide to call a colleague whose had a head start on the road and you want to get a traffic update since he/she is on a similar route home. The response you get is ‘There is go-slow’ (Go-slow is a popular term in Nigeria which is a substitute for the word ‘Traffic’). You’re mood changes. You become restless because you can already feel the body aches and tense muscles from 3 hours of driving nowhere fast.
Please note that not all the experiences are mine but they are all true. Also, this is by no means an exhaustive list so if you have any dreaded ‘three-worded statements’ which you or others wouldn’t like to hear then you can share them here