Archive for May 2011 | Monthly archive page

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It beats the imagination how following simple instructions turns out to be more complicated than it’s worth. Remember after an exam that you discovered you ought to have answered just four questions and you had done six? Maybe the verbal type is easier, although there are people that this is also a difficult process for as well.

The written instructions have turned out to be the devil in the blue dress and the elephant that sits in the room with us. Take for instance when you want to fill a form, the steps to do this are often clearly stated on the page(s) before you and it presupposes the fact that before you proceed you give them the once over i.e. read them thoroughly. Alas and alack this is so not the case in this day and age! Students (all shapes, sizes and age!), professionals and other variants have transgressed this law. On the other hand maybe we all read but we fall short of adequate comprehension of what we ought to do, given the STP at that point in time.

Has it happened to you that you finished filling the form (with your golden customised felt-tip) only for you to discover that you ought to have filled it with black ink?! That little fact was type faced (boldly!) in the two sentences that began the document. With this discovery, you not only had to start over (probably get a new one too) but the time in which to do it was not as conducive as before.

In the case of international exams Nigerians (maybe people in general) have fallen foul of this golden rule and paid dearly for it. An instance where a young lady went for a TOEFL exam without any form of identity after shelling out roughly 40,000 naira is great cause for concern! Thankfully, the printed email was in her possession and the supervisor of the centre pointed out the clause written on the same page with her number and location of the venue. This girl was really determined to take the exam and promptly went home to solicit the help of her parents…it didn’t work since they still could not produce a valid identification document of sorts for her either. Irrational I hear you say or mayhap a case of money miss road or too much of it as the case maybe!

This incident is not the first (I daresay won’t be the last either) but more glaring because it could have been prevented if she had only READ the small print. We can all benefit from taking out the time to be more patient, detailed and focused when we read documents be they examination papers, visa forms etc., and save ourselves a lot of hassle and heartache by reading the instructions before we have at it, after all the chaps that put them there did it for a reason and definitely not to thwart your efforts either. Easier said than done I hear some of you murmur.

Flashback

May
2011
24

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Time flies…even when you’re not having fun! It takes no prisoners and simply does as it pleases. When something’s painful, boring or you would really not be involved with it, it becomes extremely long and drawn out. It becomes one of those ‘slow’ moments and seems to go on forever. On the other hand we know how good and pleasurable times are gone in a flash, despite the fact that you try and draw out every second so that you can savour it…alas Master Time will have none of that and that moment too is gone.

I write this with nostalgia, fond memories and some shock that it’s already a year since expressions went live. Live with a post and therefore as a blog with its very first content. Three hundred and sixty-five days of existence and hopefully giving you the same level of satisfaction that I have found with sharing my thoughts with you.

Various instances of human interaction, the good, bad and could-be-much-worse all narrated by yours truly. My observations, thoughts and questions posed and presented from my view and with the added pleasure of receiving your input (or not) as the case maybe. Some people that don’t leave comments, take the pains to inform me that they enjoyed a particular piece, others about how they shared it, others compliment me on how well I write (blush) and how sometimes it takes them aback on how really great it is! Of course there are those that have encouraged me to quit while I was still ahead and not bother with another post, others find the observations inane, archaic and unpalatable.

I’ve had the extreme pleasure of growing and learning from each and every single one of you with your encouragement, compliments and criticisms because it has made me much better. My sense of observations have been further honed and I find that interactions on the blog further engage, stimulate and challenge me to see more.

The year has also been fraught with some tension i.e. what the next post will be and some horror too when a post does not elicit any response. Observations may not get the juices flowing and even if they do, the words sometimes take their time in making their debut and aligning with thoughts trying to escape onto the blank page. This has found me reading much more and wider than ever, holding interesting conversations, more open to new experiences and getting used to that rush of meeting that morning Tuesday deadline when another post must by ALL means be published!

It would be remiss of me not to mention a dear friend (John) that encouraged me with my writing. He was that I first shared my writing with…the compliments and praise egged me on to continue and also gave me the courage to dare share with a much wider audience. Uncle Dapo set me on the path of blogging, by sending some pieces to someone in 234next and my first blog was born! My cup of tea (blog) on 234next is an experience that I cherish and that produced the current blog I write for the Daily Times.

Expressions is my baby and I appreciate the work that Sam has put in to ensure that my crazy DIY requirements are met. Bugging him and being a bother is what I’ve become, but with the specs and interface being as hands on as possible, he has taken care of the glitches. Since it’s not in my agenda to learn code or programming anytime soon, we’ve developed a workable system that suits us.

There may be thousands of opinions that may not have seen the light of day as, words, phrases, sentences, whole paragraphs that eventually turned into a blog post without you…yes YOU. If you don’t bother to read there would be no point really! So THANK YOU for reading and taking interest in my encounters. It only promises to get better and I’ll encourage you to prepare for added features on the blog that will make it more interesting, stimulating, witty and dare I say…MORE FUN.

In all these…I give thanks and say HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to all friends and family of Expressions for real.

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A while ago, I found myself in a place where the facility panders to both genders and subsequently had to wait for a man to finish his ablutions (not the religious kind) at the wash-hand basin. He literarily washed (only thing missing was the soap!) his face, neck and finally his hands at the sink and certainly took his sweet time. Picture the scene with me and you’ll understand just how frustrated I was that fateful day. The most dismal part of the whole thing is that there was only one wash basin, and being the hygienic gal…I had to wait!

Ever wondered what the delay could possibly be from the water gurgling down the loo to the person’s emergence? This question has reared itself a couple of times whilst waiting for just such an individual. As far as I was concerned the time lapse was unduly long (okay it seemed that way!)…I mean, flush and come out, the scenic surroundings not withstanding! This wait only occurs in public facilities and is thus really puzzling.

Have you also experienced the knock and push associated with using the ladies? Some doors come equipped with the blatant sign that signals occupancy; sadly others are not so fortunate. If you happen to be inside one without this sign, then you’ve definitely experienced the knock and push trend i.e. the person knocks and immediately pushes, trying to gain entrance. Some people don’t believe in the knock part and just go ahead with the push! Doesn’t common sense dictate that when the exterior bolt is unlocked, then the stall is not empty? Why bother to knock or even push to discover this? Nature can be demanding (we understand that) but it certainly does not mean that all other senses should take flight.

Ever been to the cinemas and immediately the movie ended the sensation you had managed and ignored for the duration could no longer be dismissed? You rush over to the lavatory and discover that everyone else beat you to it? Fifty other people stare at, or look through you (as the case maybe), all waiting to do their business. This may take a while and oftentimes you have to muster superhuman prowess in containing your water. If you happen to be quite desperate, looking beneath the door for a shadow helps to jump the endless queue. No shadow means an empty stall, and since every other person was clueless about this, you get to hop in happily way before every other person!

As humans we must move, respire, feed, reproduce, excrete etc as a result we must of necessity converge in certain (public) spaces in order to do some of them. The most embarrassing of them all, being bodily functions which some of us would otherwise wish away. Interestingly, as long as you and I are alive we must learn to be less self-conscious when Nature makes her demands and we have to share that space with others she also called at that same point in time.

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Gaining entrance into any bank nowadays has become something of an ordeal. Any and all metallic objects must be removed from your person. Phones must be held, straight up to the sensor, chargers, make-up cases and a host of other things discarded; kept in those locker room-type boxes by the entrance, not a favourite of many from past experiences. Sometimes this is not enough, as the doors still refuse to close and take you to the other side. In that instance, the guardian loudly beeps and in a robotic monotone informs you about the metal object (huh?) you haven’t gotten rid of.

A few times, you might have divested yourself of ALL metallic, magnetic and other obstructive objects you think might cause a delay but alas, once again you fail to gain admittance. Often times some of these doors are faulty and until the security guard helps you hold the phone (or whatever) she (notice how the voice is feminine and exceedingly annoying to hear at that point in time?!) took objection to before you can make it into the banking hall. Frustration, irritation and down right time wastage occurs in this battle for entry; woe betides you if you thought you’d quickly ‘dash’ to the bank. Since all banks have gone this route, you’re confronted with the doorway from hell whenever you visit any of them.

Finally gaining entrance by no way means that the ordeal is over, depending on the time you make this jaunt, you may be confronted with a never-ending queue! As a result of numerous bodies, the air-conditioners are (sometimes) overwhelmed and the tellers don’t look too pleased to see you either! If you’re lucky the line moves at a fast clip, but if it’s one of those days you grin and bear it, taking your leave as time permits.

Funny how some banks that were once touted for their efficiency, seem to have become somewhat overwhelmed with the influx of customers recently acquired. Depending on the time and type of transaction, banking halls of late remind one of the old generation banks, tally numbers and monster queues.

This is in no wise a treatise on the efficiency (or otherwise) of the banking sector, but suffice it to say that internet banking, ATM usage and other e-banking options are more attractive than a mandatory visit at any point in time. Universal banking has made things easier; technology has also lubricated the hinges of financial transactions. Unfortunately, it seems that the processes instituted to make it smooth sailing for the banking public needs a serious overhaul.

A lot of people have not attained the enviable position of ultra-personalised services from the banks and making it easier for these ordinary folks should be top-of-mind. Planning a trip to the bank premises is one of precision in terms of timing, personal belongings and transactional details…nobody enjoys the current hassle involved. Merely thinking about that obnoxious electronic door is enough to make one re-think the reason to visit the bank today!

Money and the ATMs

May
2011
03

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The 21st century has not only brought advancement and sophistication but mans dependence on technology in every area of human endeavour. This has its upside and downside for ordinary folks. Depending on the circumstances and urgency that surround the daily affairs of the person it may be a blessing or a very serious curse at that point in time! The ATM card is a blessing and is equivalent to the magic wand of our favourite fairy tales, just like the major character in the movie Confessions of a Shophalic. The ATM card grants us access to instant cash whenever we require.

Network failure has become a rather familiar phrase. The advent of GSM technology has made it not just mandatory to know what it means, but we have also had to learn its detailed meaning and overall ramifications. We have also become used to NF at that crucial point in time, when it’s necessary to withdraw money for that all important transaction! Whenever this occurs the ripple effect is felt for hours, days or even weeks afterwards. Last week Tuesday’s network failure was on another level and caught a lot of people off guard. Undoubtedly, a glitch does that at any point in time, but this was the tsunami of all NFs and the chaos that ensued made the daily grind anything but business as usual.

Totally unaware of the drama that would unfold, people left home with minimal cash and their trusty ATM cards in tow. Plugging the card into the system means mo money, mo money…no money in this instance! If you did not have an alternative to obtaining money e.g. your cheque book or people ready, willing and able to give you some to tide you over, you were thoroughly stranded. In one instance, a chap hung around the machine with a spaced-out-look. Others made the pilgrimage from one branch (of different banks) to another and in various locations to boot in a bid to lay their hands on some cheddar.

The most traumatic part of the ordeal was the fact that some of the transactional amounts were paltry and not earth-shattering in the scheme of things…but to the people concerned very crucial. As a people we have become more conscious of having large amounts of cash in our possession and because of that we now tend to use the ATM machine more often. A great development, but not when technology hiccups and we get the short end of the stick.

We have to learn how to balance our dependence on technology (balance is always good in anything) in order not to experience frequent cases of NFs in our daily financial transactions. This will be nigh high impossible, since this is the age of rapid advancement in technology and it certainly makes life easier. Whatever the case may be and how we eventually achieve this balance…network failures are now part and parcel of our existence and here for the long haul. The one thing we have to look forward to is that they will become few and far between and hopefully sometime (sooner than our calculations!) become extinct.