Saturday, August 27, 2011

Expatriate in the Building

I really do not know what the situation is like in other parts of the world but I have evaluated quite a few businesses and can conclude that our customer care/service delivery in this part of the planet is distasteful. From the roadside hawkers to our telecoms service providers, the banks, the hospitals and unfortunately even in the hospitality business.

The (mostly) women who handle this positions surprisingly share the same characteristics – ill tempered, uncouth and impatient! Only a few of them deliver impressive service that make you want to get familiar with them. Majority simply treat you like they are doing you a huge favour by responding to your enquiries/complaints.

I got one of such treatments recently at an industry conference. Add the above traits to male chauvinist behaviour and you’ll have the description of the protocol officer!

BTW, if you (or anyone you know) work for that airline that offers cheap rates for domestic flights booked in advance online, kindly tell the management team that the services are crap. The only reason we still patronise you is because we are Ijebus like to support the proudly Nigerian initiative. Soon, we may get tired of your cancellations, delays and saucy helpdesk operators and embrace Virginity!

I arrived early to get my accreditation done, I had all the documents as stated on the invite but for some reason, Mr Protocol Officer couldn’t find my name on the list! I wouldn’t have been angry if he had offered to do a thorough check and rectify the error, but instead he concluded I was impersonating! What rubbish!

I had never met the man before yet he believed I was trying to impersonate someone! So I’m subjected to series of ‘irrelevant’ questions... ‘What is your name? Middle name? Spell your surname? Who registered you for this conference? May I point out that at this point he was holding on to all my documents, driver’s license inclusive; guess he was trying to figure out I was really trying to use usurp someone’s slot!

Tired of standing and stretching over the counter, I sat and began fiddling with twitter, only to be jolted back to reality about an hour later! Mr Protocol Officer announced he’ll be closing in about 45minutes but still couldn’t find my name.

‘So what do you suggest?’ I asked
‘Madam, I’ve tried my best, you didn’t register, what do you want me to do about it’, he said, attracting enough attention and scattering my documents all over the.

At this point, I’m thinking, should I ask to see a superior officer or make a call to the help line on the acknowledgement mail; before I could decide, an elderly woman intervened, speaking in Yoruba, she reprimanded him for making no efforts to get me accredited to which he responded also in Yoruba: don’t mind all these small small girls, I know the type of people that come to this conference, they are top people (hiss).

You can only imagine how I felt, having someone say such about you in a language you understand! I totally ignored, leaving the elderly woman to deal with him. Minutes later his supervisor made an appearance. Nice lady I must say.
Within minutes she searched through all the lists and there it was. Apparently, they had 2 lists; one for participants from different organisations within the country and the other for Expatriates (prospective investors).

Now, the truth is, my name doesn’t give an insight into what tribe I belong, infact, it appears entirely foreign; but that’s no excuse. That I was registered in their books as one of the expatriates is a sign of inefficiency; my forms clearly state my nationality.

Finally, my pass was handed over but I wasn’t ready to leave just yet. I needed to have the last laugh so I turned to the supervisor and told her how she needed to have her staff trained. I told her they needed to know that not every young woman is sleeping her way to the top. A few of us are working hard and getting recognised for our efforts, bla bla bla... and for maximum effects, I said it all in Yoruba; imagine the look on Mr Protocol Officer’s face, dang! All he did was stare.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Today, I cried...

Today, I cried. No, I wasn’t flogged but I cried. I cried for the many times I had encountered near deaths, illnesses and other unpleasant situations and through it all God brought me out unscarred. I cried because I realise how ungrateful we all are sometimes. Because we complain about the lack of mundane things and fail to show appreciation for the essentials handed to us on a platter of gold.

I think about all those mornings I snooze for an extra 10minutes a total of 3 times before I finally get out of bed thereby saying so short a prayer I cannot remember once I jump into the bath!

I think about the many times I witnessed accidents on 3rd mainland bridge and many of the other death traps we refer to as highways. I remember the journeys I have made within and outside the city, times my flight experienced turbulence and through it all I am still here.

The last 4 weeks have been really eventful for me. I have been happy, sad and indifferent; but isn’t that what life’s about. An acquaintance from my undergrad days passed away a day before she was to resume at an oil company in Lekki; she had been job hunting since 2008.

Sadly, last week we had met and spoken briefly at the airport in Abuja. Her mum found my card in her purse and called to inquire if she owed me as the family wanted to settle all her debts before the burial.

I’m just reading the story of Olajuwura Amoo-Onidundu and that’s what made me cry. Last month I had some medical issues to deal with but I was strong enough to get into an argument with the nurse. She had cut open the syringe before my entry into the injection room so I insisted a new one be used. When the matron intervened she said, ‘it would amount to waste of resources’, I then retorted with an indifferent look that if my HMO plan can’t cover the cost of an extra syringe then I’ll pay cash!

Since the introduction of HMOs, healthcare delivery seems to have nosedived even at the so called ‘good private hospitals’. A colleague was recently asked if he wanted silver, gold or platinum treatment after being diagnosed of malaria at the hospital. Apparently, the class of treatment he chooses would determine the type of drugs to be prescribed, recovery timeline and ultimately the bill!

 I won’t even mention government hospitals where you have to run around to buy everything from gloves to syringe and injection, drip etc; God help you if you’re in labour and there’s no family member in sight; well, you can tip a student doctor to help you. I know this from a friend’s labour experience at LASUTH/Ayinke Hospital.

All in all, I believe we, as a people, as a nation still have a chance to get better. To correct the anomalies, seize the future and make it truly ours. You and I can start by being truthful and faithful in all our dealings.

Have a fabulous weekend!

The original post for today EXPATRIATE IN THE BUILDING would be up next week!