Respect Can Be Quite Funny And Stupid
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We had a 10:00 am meeting … so we rushed out of the office a full 40 minutes ahead of time. Although it was just a couple of kilometers away we did not want to take any chances…you never know what trucks shipping container might decide to fall on the busy Lagos roads and cause mind bending traffic!
Fortunately there was no traffic…but we would regret this later….
And how rude of me!
I did not even tell you what the 10 am meeting was all about. Well you see on this particular day we were going to meet with government officials…Top Nigerian government officials to give them a presentation on our project status. I was initially meant to present the update, but we were told that one of the Nigerian government official that was coming were so high level that my Oga at the Top had to be present or else it would be looked upon as a disrespectful insult.
So there I was in the front seat of my bosses SUV weaving through the streets of Lagos Island. My boss at the back busily typing as he worked on a last-minute request made at 12 midnight that morning by the same high level government officials we were about to meet.
Well, we finally got to our destination a full 20 minutes ahead of time … and the room?
Well it was packed. Packed with different people from different organizations. But you can guess…the Nigerian government official, the Oga Pata Pata had not arrived. So we waited and waited and waited … very slowly 10 am turned to 11 am and then 12 noon… 2 hours gone but still it was the same response “the Oga is on his way,” “just wait,” “It would be disrespectful to start without him.”
He was like the Floyd Mayweather of the show and we were the Manny Pacquiao of his life. All of us patiently waiting for him to acknowledge our existence. But yet we all waited…until we got that call … it was a call saying that he was 10 minutes away but that we could go ahead and start the meeting. So we started the meeting…but wait again…
See me sef, I have not even described the room.
Hmm…the room was one big room like the big corporate meeting rooms in those expensive Lagos Hotels. You know the one I am talking about now! Those type of 5-star hotel where you momentarily blink and think you are in Yankee or Dubai…well that was where we were. And the food, it was sumptuous and delicious … But the food is not important to this story.
What was important was that the room was long and narrow with an equally long and narrow table with chairs arranged all around it. And the room was set up in such a way that the Presentation screen and the door were at the front, so basically if you tried to sneak out of the meeting it was impossible and if you sat in front of the meeting…all eyes were on you. Remember that phrase “all eyes were on you.”
So we started the meeting…with practically all the chairs filled up especially the ones in front.
5 minutes into the meeting … the man we had all been waiting for suddenly walked into the room. It was like the President of I mean President-Elect of Nigeria had walked in …
Immediately, all the Nigerian government officials jumped up and started bowing, like yes, Chinese bowing, they would have even done SuperMan on the ground but their potbelly’s may have interrupted all that. My company people we were just stuck on our seats looking like confused Tourists. But our confusion had just started, because the next that happened was the domino effect …
The guy in the front of the room stood-up from the front chair so that his Super boss could have a seat and then the guy next to him shifted, and the guy next to the guy next to him also shifted. Remember this room was loooooong, so you can imagine the domino effects of about 11 people, getting up and bowing while simultaneously moving their laptops and notebooks to the seat next to them so that their Oga could seat at the front. It was 2 minutes of pure and free entertainment.
Eventually the throne I mean chair was ready to be occupied by his majesty. And the man of the hour … the Oga of the Ogas of the Ogas was seated and he gave us his blessing to continue
by waving his royal staff. Remember that phrase “All eyes on you” please don’t tell me you already forgot!
Anyway the presentation continued … 2 minutes passed and then 3 minutes and then I looked up to the Throne and what I saw made me shake my head. Because the guy we had waited for for 2.5 hours, shifted chairs for, bowed down to … was in less that 5 minutes …. fast asleep! I mean the dude was sleeping like King! And because he was in front of the room … everybody saw him sleeping. But out of respect, out of fear, nobody woke him up. So for 1 hour plus he slept and all because of that word we call RESPECT.
Respect can be quite funny but mostly it can be quite stupid.
DISCLAIMER: This is a true story, but the identities of the people and organizations have been hidden. If you recognize yourself in the story my apologies, except you are the Oga at the Top that slept off … then no apologies!