24 Dec

Pot Pourri

This post is dedicated to the beautiful Ugochi Obijuru, you rock!!

I just completed a three-week stint working behind the scenes in customer relations for a luxury British brand. The type that serves the world’s most self-important shoppers.

The lessons I  learned if bottled, will sell for a princely sum in the business world, and the life lessons? His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama would be proud. While it will take years to fully master them all, I am beyond thankful for the opportunity and will share snippets between this blog and ‘the other one.’

The most intriguing part of the job were the customers. Friend, I discovered that God created different species of humans. If you lean towards sticking with your own kind, I implore you to clutch fervently at any opportunity to exercise bravery by visiting other planets. I dealt with customers who cried at their Christmas order not being delivered on time to the ones who had palpitations as they described the ‘agony, the sheer & utter disgrace’ at the phone wait times.

My first Naija customer was a hoot. I asked if she had an account with us as we always do, it saves having to request information we already hold. She replied; “Yes! Of course, I do! I shop there allllll the time.”
My thought? The Nigerians have come.
This same question, when offered to my non-Naija callers was answered with a simple ‘yes’ or a simple ‘no’, then they’d await the next question.
She wanted to order some biscuits to be delivered directly to a friend, I asked if it was for a Mr David who we had on file.

“No o! That’s my immigration lawyer.”

My gasp came out backwards as I tried to swallow it before it left my mouth.

“The first three biscuits are for my personal trainer, she has been training me for free and now I want to say thank you. In my country, we give gifts a lot. It’s nothing to us. When I started working out my stomach was so big, I was too embarrassed to show it. Now, if you see me ehn? Even my arms look like a boxer’s arms. But she’s going to train now as… what do you call those people who build their bodies and then show off on TV?”

“Bodybuilders?”

“Yes! She’s going to be a bodybuilder so she’s on a restricted diet. I feel sorry for her that’s why I’m getting her some biscuits.
Ok the next few items are mine, don’t laugh o, I like biscuits, kee hee hee!”

“Alright what’s the first item please?”

“Hmm… I’m looking at one on your website, it looks nice, how about lemon thins?”

“How many please?”

“Ehn? How many? One of course! You people are expensive! Do you even do sale?”

“Err.. not really”

“You see! And you want me to buy more than one pack. Last time this biscuit was £5 now it’s £7!
Ok please add the silver sprinkles one, how much is that?”

She goes on to add about 7 more tins of luxe biscuits, each time chuckling with delight at what I suspect may have been the thought of relishing them.

“Please tell me how much it has come to.”

“£88.”

“Wow! You people are not cheap. I bought some of these biscuits for my co-worker last year, he was so shocked. Everyone in the office was shocked. He was the only one who helped me with my project when I didn’t know what I was doing, you know how everyone else wants you to fail?”

“Yes.”

“Well, he was the only one who wanted me to do well. Now I carry out my job with so much confidence. There’s another woman in the same department who came up to me and asked where her biscuits were. Do you know what I told her?”

“No.”

“I told her you’re not a nice person. So no gifts for you.”

“Really? You said that to her?”

“Yes now! I believe in telling the truth. In my country, we believe in giving gifts but we’re not stupid. The gift I gave my co-worker was only N30,000 in value, nobody brags about that amount in Nigeria. Let’s add one more Scottish shortbread to the list, how much is that now?”

“£92.95. Are you from Delta?”

“Ehn? How did you know!?”

“I grew up in Benin.”

“Ewese oooo! You’re Nigerian? Koyoooo!”

“I don’t speak Bini.”

“Ah ah, why now?!”

“I’m from Lagos.”

“Ehn now, I understand Yoruba, bawo ni?”

“A dupe.”

“Ehennnn!!! Hee hee kee kee kee!”

“Your total comes to £96.95 including delivery.”

“Here are my card details…”

Let me know if you want to hear the one that cried about her foie gras, it’ll have to be an audio blog because it involves a very English, upper-class accent.

11 Mar

By Force History Lesson

I feel so sorry for my friends and family. I recently enrolled on a course in period interior design. Attending a design course isn’t new to me and normally I wouldn’t even say much about it, but this one is different. It is different because I have never had an affinity for period design in any way, shape or form. I mean why would you want to design your home with the old when you are young and hip? The truth is that I actually nursed a certain anxiety over the subject, personally I prefer contemporary decor, and in my previously limited thinking I associated ancient styles with ancient folks. Kind of like my Mum’s Wedgwood plates, you know the blue and white one with a scenery of what looks like a Victorian playground. Give me plain but brightly coloured, unusually shaped plates any day. However in preparation of my taking the world by storm, I realised that citing ignorance during my acceptance speech of my lifetime achievement award just won’t do, so I thought even though I don’t particularly like the style, I at least need to be educated about it. So here we are.

I am now in love with history! Poor hubby can’t even enjoy a simple movie or T.V program any longer as I’m constantly pointing out the different eras that the fireplace or staircase bannister came from. I go on to explain how design styles, though limited to nobility and the wealthy, travelled through time and various countries. Rome and France were the trend setters, but because of the limited transportation ( we’re talking 18th and 19th century) a style could be in vogue in France but wouldn’t arrive in Britain for another 100 years or so. The poor Americans had nothing going on for a long time as most travelling was done within Europe. Would you like to know how churches came to be so tastefully designed and decorated? No? Well I’ll tell you anyway.  In a nutshell, during the renaissance period, many wealthy families lived very extravagant lives. The guilt of the way they lived caused them to donate  a lot of their money to the church, and even build elaborate churches. It was seen as their penance especially since some of the wealth was ill-gotten. Did you know Leonardo Da Vinci dissected human bodies to see how the body was created, so he could recreate it, sinews, muscle and all in his art? You knew? I didn’t! Did you know that the mistresses of monarchs were formally recognized as the Royal mistress? She had to have certain qualities and not just anyone could fill that role. She had to be a married woman for example. And her husband would have been very proud to share his wife with the King!

I won’t bore you any longer, oh and the reason I feel sorry for my friends and family (and now you) is that I can’t stop talking about my new found knowledge! It is so fascinating and I’m thankful that I am able to learn, i.e the boys haven’t sucked my mind away with their boisterous activities- like child #3 who is suddenly obsessed with wars. Search me. He is gathering knowledge on all the different wars (including dates!) and watching YouTube clips of Saving private Ryan. He told me about the cold war, why it started and about the Battle of Red Cliffs, fought between Northern and Southern China, what’s worrying is that this particular war was fought in 208 AD. I have no idea why an 8-year-old would be interested in that, he still has us baffled.

Here’s wishing you an awesome week ahead, and may the writer’s block never catch me again, amen!

Thanks so much for reading 🙂