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Thursday, February 17, 2011


Today, after dropping Elizabeth and Jeremy off at school, I needed to stop at the bank ( for the Beach School Foundation). I wish I could bring my camera there to take a picture of the entry way for you because it really looks like you are entering into the set of Star Trek. Seriously, when I walk inside the cylinder which opens on one side while it is playing classical music
( which, by the way, doesn't even remotely go with the ambiance of the bank) you are literally "trapped inside" praying that the other side of the cylinder will open. It really is a miracle I haven't been trapped inside there yet. But, the only thing that always goes through my head when I enter it is ( besides praying that it does indeed open up) " Beam me up, Scotty!" After the other side opened, there are about 5 - 10 Nigerian bank workers who all greeted me with huge smiles, but didn't get up to move. Thank goodness I had been there before and knew which teller I should go to. I handed over my money for deposit, and that went pretty smoothly. Then, I had to make a withdrawal. ( Just a side note, the signatures on a check written in Nigeria have to match the point that you would think they were photocopied...but, no one ever signs their name exactly the same way twice. I found this out the hard way a few months back when I forgot to put a curly tail on my s and they rejected the check!) So, I was thinking in my head, " Oh no! What did I do this time?" I could feel the people looking at me...and I was very aware that I was the only oyibo in the building at that time. The lady told me the system was slow and I should take a seat. So, I went over and sat down in a chair which had the leg duct taped on and the stuffing coming out. I just sat and watched the people in the bank. There were about 5 bank workers standing around one of the tellers talking and laughing. I saw the lady who had been helping me walk over and laugh with another man who worked at the bank. I was thinking, "What is going on?" I wanted to just get this done and over with. Being in a bank in Nigeria is not always the safest feeling in the world. Then, I saw a sign which kind of made me said " Trust us ( the bank"s name) with your salary." The words "trust" and "bank" in Nigeria just don't go together. I had a smile on my face as I read it and then noticed that a Nigerian woman sitting next to me was looking at me...and I felt funny because I wasn't sure if she saw that I was smiling at the sign. Was she taking that as an insult? My mind started racing. Then, I thought the safest thing to do is just sit there and pretend I had some important e-mails I needed to check on my Blackberry.....funny how, that thing is always lighting up with junk e-mail and this time...there was not even a sale from the Gap e-mail to read. Five minutes passed, ten minutes passed, 15 minutes .....I looked up and the woman was still talking to the other man. Finally, I stood up and told her I needed my check or the money, but either way, I needed to leave right then. I felt like I was going to blow a gasket just watching everyone talking and laughing and not working. A funny thing happened after my little outburst, my money all of the sudden appeared!!! It was a miracle!:) As I was about to walk through the space portal with the classical music to get back out to my car, one of the workers said, "Thank you , my sista!". As the doors to the portal shut, I had to laugh. Just the other night, Jeremy had said ," Thank you , my sista!" to Elizabeth because she handed him a toy while they were taking a bath. ( I think he is really turning into a Nigerian!)

I walked out to the car and saw that Fatai was completely blocked in from all sides. I wound my way through the maze of cars and managed to wedge myself into my car. Fatai got out and I heard several drivers yelling at each other in Yoruba ...I was guessing they were telling each other they had to move because we were blocked in. Fatai got back in the car and said, "Don't mind them, they have no patience."

I thought to myself, patience was what I was going to need today. Patience is something that comes in very small quantities in Nigeria. If you don't move your car 5 seconds before the light turns red( if cars actually stop at the red light) will hear about 10 cars honking. If you don't get off a bus 5 seconds before you need to, someone is going to trample you. Maybe people in Nigeria are trying to remind themselves about patience ( or other virtues, for that matter) when they give their children names like Patience, Blessing or Happiness ( you know I am not kidding about that) so that every time they say the name they remind themselves what they should have. All I know was that I was about to run out of it today.

After the bank, I had to go and pick Elizabeth back up from school and when we got back home, she threw a two year old fit because she wanted to take her shoes off before washing her hands ( I have no idea why she was so mad...I hadn't even had the chance to tell her to do either one). All I know is, if she would have been born in Nigeria...her name would have been every time I said her name I would remind myself that I needed more.:)

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