We often hear adults talk about how the youths and teenagers of this generation don’t have respect. They can relate stories as old as Methuselah about how they would genuflect and prostrate and greet any and everything possible. You’d even hear stories of some people greeting the trees in the compound because the tree was there before they were born.
But some people carry respect too far. In fact, they are so ‘respectful’ that they forget to respect others because they feel that the respect they had passed out to their elders ought to be recepriocated to them. How can some people claim that they need to be respected when they don’t even show basic courtesy to other people?
Seriously, some adults who claim that youths have no respect act even worse. You would think that the older ones would be wiser in some situations but that is not always the case.
It all began on another boring weekday morning.
I was in a hurry to get to school because I had an 8am lecture. Usually, I would walk from my bus stop to the other bus stop because it is about a twenty minutes walking distance (and I would get a bus going to my destination immediately) but I was already ten minutes behind my schedule so I decided to take a keke napepe (Rickshaw) from my bus stop to the next bus stop.
The keke was only occupied by two people. The driver who sat in front calling out for passengers and another occupant, a huge man taking up a large part of the back seat. I thought of sitting in front but I didn’t get the chance because another passenger soon arrived, a female secondary school student. She sat in front so I had no choice but to seat beside the large man.
The only consolation I had was that his perfume had a pleasant fragrance. I hoped against hope against hope that the next passenger would be as slim as I am. On a usual day, I barely take up one seat in the keke napep. So technically, I ought to be paying like 30 naira instead of 50. But that wasn’t the point. I just didn’t want to be made into a human sandwhich.
Horrors of all Horrors, the next passenger approached. It would have been no problem if she was as slim as I am but she was the exact opposite of that. I would have said she was as fat as a hippopotamus but that would be mean so I’ll just describe what she really looked like.
She had large thighs as fat as a thick tree trunk. Her buttocks were large like fat slabs of meat decked on a meat seller’s table. Her protuberant stomach was in a competition with her large breasts. It was almost difficult to decipher where her stomach began and where her breast ended I couldn’t find her neck. It was just her fleshy face lolling on her shoulder. If I were to describe her in one world, I would have said, “ROUND.”
Now, I personally have nothing against fat people. Afterall, as one of my friends said, being fat is just a sign of wealthy living. Wealthy not healthy.
Anyways, this woman was about to grace me with her ernoumous physique and she definitely wasn’t going to ask for my permission. So I decided to ‘jejely’ respect myself and come out of the Keke so that I could sit at the edge and she and the other man could battle for the middle seat of the Keke.
I didn’t even have time to get out. She came into the Keke and sat down. I could almost imagine the Keke wailing and weeping as it was depressed further into the ground by the sheer force of her weight. I could barely breath as I was stuck between the Leviathan and the Hippotamous. My hip bones were gradually dislocating and relocating under compressed pressure. I wished I’d just walked to the next bus stop.
At eighteen, there were so many things I wanted to do and getting squished to death was not part of my life plan. I decided to take action there and then. So I opened my mouth to speak for my freedom.
“Sorry, please, can you excuse me?” I asked her. Alighting from the man’s side was not an option. Not only did he look unmovable, the express road was his direct neighbor. Getting hit by a car or Okada was not part of my life plan either.
“What?” She stared at me with such venom on her eyes. It was almost as though I had actually slapped her across the face.
“I need to get down. Please, could you move? I’m not going all the way to the last bus stop. I’m getting down at the next bus stop. Let me sit at the edge so that it would be easy for me to come down.” I said. The woman’s eyes grew wider causing the make up on her face to contort to something else entirely.
I can never forget the way she yelled at me. “Co…co…come on. Will you shut up? What are you saying? Sit down. Let’s move!!!” She said.
I tried to explain to her that it was only logical that I sit at the edge because my bus stop was the closest but it was like I was speaking to a wall-who am I kidding? Walls have ears-This woman only had large earrings dangling from things that looked like ears but were clearly malfunctioning.
“You have already sat down. Why do you want to come down?” I can’t remember the rest of what she was saying because I was giving myself mental slaps for even talking but seriously, if we had got to my bus stop, She would still take forever to squeeze herself out of the Keke before I could come down. I just wanted to save both our time.
She continued with her tirade, occasionally throwing insults like “rude girl”, “no respect”, “stupid”, “lack of direction”, “cannot manage time” “nonsense.” All of this just because I didn’t want to die as a human sandwich.
You know what made all this worse. I’m a pacifist and I hate confrontation. Even just working up the nerve to ask her to let me out was like giving out my liver. So liverless me-Yes. I’m a coward. I know-just sat there watching her hurl insults at me.
And she wasn’t quiet about it. No! Her voice was like the loud speakers used in large church conventions like the Experience. She actually managed to get the other Keke drivers around the park to come around to find out what the problem was.
The problem was that I wanted to get down and save my hips from certain destruction but this woman had misinterpreted my intention and she thought that I wasn’t boarding the Keke anymore. She wasn’t even giving me a chance to speak. She was just going on and on about how stupid and nonsensical I was for waiting for the Keke to get filled then wanting to come down.
But seriously, is it a crime that I want to alight? I was already considering that option. It was my mind and I could decide to change it whenever I liked. Regardless of anyone’s opinion.
I didn’t enter the Keke with her permission so what made her think that she had the right to tell me whether I ought to get down or not? What made her think that just because she was older than me, she could just insult me as she liked?
I didn’t insult her though. I just tried to explain to her and she kept telling me to “shut up” because an adult was speaking. The Keke driver finally intervened and of course, she listened to him because he was an adult like her. Not like me that looks like I’m still 16. He explained the situation to her and the only thing she could say was “oh.”
She got out of the keke. Then I got out. Then she in again and I sat down in my desired position. It didn’t matter that she was still taking up more than half of my seat and that the metal frame of the keke and I were married in painful fusion. At least the Leviathan and the Hippotamous were seating side by side.
I thanked the keke driver for his wisdom but I would have appreciated it if he had applied that wisdom before this woman began to insult me. She looked even older than my mom. I was disgusted by her Character. The worst part was that she couldn’t even apologize. She was wrong. She had clearly been corrected but she still didn’t apologize. Yet, she had called me the disrespectful one.
I didn’t have the heart to demand an apology. Her rant had left me without a piece of my mind to gift her since she was clearly in need of it. I was more than happy to get off the keke when I did. My waist hurt and I had marks on my skin where the keke had dug into my skin as a result of being pressed tightly against.
As I paid the keke driver, I could see pity in his eyes. He couldn’t confront the woman either because she was older and talking back would have been a sign of ‘disrespect.’ Absolute disrespect.
Rubbish and nonsense.
I learnt a few things that day:
Adults can also be wrong. Very wrong.
They can also be disrespectful. Showing respect is not just being humble. It’s about treating people fairly.
If you’re right about something, don’t back down. You don’t need to be rude to fight for your cause but you need to be confident and wiling to let your voice be heard.
If I had exchanged words with the woman, I would have been the bigger idiot because even though she was wrong about me, she could claim that she had proof that I was very disrespectful. Rubbish and Nonsense
Not all adults deserve respect but I wasn’t raised to treat people based on how they treat me. I won’t change who I am because of how irrational someone else acts.
Some adults don’t see the need to apologize even though they are VERY very wrong and that is very bad.
Is it really any wonder then that some youths don’t see the need to apologize to adults or even have common courtesy? The leaders of tomorrow are clearly learning from the action of our leaders today.
- I probably should have eaten more liver that morning.
Please who knows a market that I can find good livers? I’ll probably put it in goat pepersoup for a pinch of stubbornness and a dash of sassy.