Brand Bash

This is a review. A bad one. — Along Series reloaded

Balpolam Idi
8 min readOct 25, 2023

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Photo by Erica Nilsson on Unsplash

I usually refrain from bad-mouthing brands and people because I actually believe that everyone is allowed to have a rough day and all. You might be meeting them on a bad day so be merciful. But come on, It’s customer service week! Can you at least pretend to care? I must say, this story wrote itself.

I’m finally seated here, Seat 8A, in this tiny aircraft whose wheels are wobbly, and it sounds a little funny too — like the cough of a dying old man. I can’t help but imagine what the news headlines will read. What the reaction of my friends and family will be? I quickly mutter under my breath tiredly, God abeg, this shouldn’t be how I go.

Our 2:15 p.m. flight was abruptly rescheduled last night for 9:15 p.m. with nothing but a cryptic text about technical difficulties. It changed my entire plans but that’s okay. Plans are made to be cancelled so it’s all Gucci. We did not board the craft, however, until long past 10. To be frank, it was only a few minutes to 11.

After a very fast and furious ride to the airport, a couple of marvellous misadventures in between that cost my friend 😭, I finally checked in. Sweaty and thirsty, I sat in the boarding area and started watching people while I tried to fight off fatigue and sleep.

I trudged to the tiny thing with Slay Queen 2.0 beside me, her almost empty pink box and its noisy wheels for company. She has a face full of make-up and a proper hot fuchsia pink two-piece with fluffy crocs to complete the look. Her wig looks tired sha. Her skin also seems to have a duotone filter going on. None of my business, it’s just that my eyes can’t help but pick up these things.

The plane gets louder as we approach and there are fewer aircraft in the lot at this time, so you can hear it from a distance. I pray for strength. My back is killing me and I’m so grateful that in all these, my uterus is silent tonight. My eyes are hurting from exhaustion and exposure to this unstable weather and all I want to do is get to my seat, drop my heavy bag, close my eyes and sleep for the 1-hour flight. I do the first two in a few minutes but the last two are tricky.

The aircraft feels like a mini 15-seater bus. We can all hear each other. It might be because of the many empty seats or the tension in the enclosed space but I didn’t very little to look behind me. Ahead ahead dears. There is the middle-aged woman in red palazzos with white polka dots and a white top to-go, lounging to my right on the other aisle. The seat beside me is empty and I offer up thanks to God for that miracle. Rich auntie is seated in front of me and she’s cursing loudly. At her bag first, for not fitting into the bin, then at the person announcing their apologies for the delay. Her accent is Southern African. It’s alluring, but it’s got the dangerous zest of Nigerian inflexions. Right in front of her is the corps member in khaki and a white shirt hugging her generous bosom. She looks ready to drop from stress.

Photo by Henrikke Due on Unsplash

Before the man with horizontal white stripes on his black shirt spoke, everyone was trying to nurse their wounds and angst quietly. I have no idea what the air hostess said to him but he was very triggered and in the Lagos way. Now forgive me, but all that came to my mind was “ah ahn fight before take off? Can’t they wait small? At least the flight from Accra to Lagos waited for us to land before the fighting started” anyway back to the story.

In anger, Mr Stripes raises his voice but more than that it is laced with hurt and pain “ You kept us waiting from 2:15 p.m. oh!” He bellows

In my head, I think hmm you didn’t get the email then, or the SMS?

“I had a meeting by 4 p.m. Do you know what you’ve cost me personally? and it’s now you want to tell me sorry?” He fires on. The air host (yes male) goes to placate him but before he gets to him, Rich auntie chips in “The worst part is how unapologetic they are!” she barks in disgust.

Corp member whirls in her seat to face rich auntie, causing her sleek cornrows to change direction “you understand!?” she says in the way only a Nigerian can.

Polka dots Palazzo Mama adds “Not even considering how unsafe it is for us” Rich auntie replies “exactly! I was supposed to go to my office but now I can’t”

Sisi Burberry aka Slay Queen 1.0 who has been quiet all along also seated alone, in front of polka dots responds “As a lady sef, it’s very dangerous to enter Lagos at this hour” There is a chorus of ‘oh oh oh!’ from every angle of the plane.

Everyone begins to swear an oath and vow that they’re never using this airline again, when polka dot palazzo Mama pointed out “Can’t you see they have so many empty seats? Most likely because when people try them the first time, they will never again.” A resounding chorus of affirmation follows. Rich auntie says, flapping her supple arms “I think they didn’t even have multiple flights they delayed or so we could travel together *expletive *expletive *lots of cuss words.*”

At this point, I’m so tempted to close my eyes and continue my favourite sport — the wondering game. And I do. I wonder why each person clicked book on this aircraft. At least I know my reasons, which were not very wise in hindsight. I wonder what their names are. I wonder who/what awaits them in Lagos. I wonder if there will be water because I’m thirsty. I wonder if this airline is like AWA which doesn’t even offer you water for short trips. I wonder if I’ll get a good driver when I land or I’ll be crying because Lagos Uber guys were at it again. I wonder how everyone else will get to their destinations. I wonder if they have some sweets because my mouth doesn’t taste so good.

I am caressing these thoughts when I reach into my tote bag and grab my wad of green sticky notes and a pen, grateful to have found them unlike my elusive Naira notes when I needed them! I decided to write. Now I’m sure it’s almost halfway into a flight and I’m so sleepy but determined to finish well. Don’t be disappointed. I am just writing what I recall. Everyone seemed to settle in once the wheels took off, my theory is they were too focused on praying to arrive in one piece that fighting was the last thing on their minds.

Let me tell you about the aircraft itself and what it did as we taxied until we took off. This thing looked like it was crafted before the ciCivil WarLike during the time my dad was a boy. Its paint and United logo could not hide the fact that the aircraft had lived long — too longif I might say. I remember the first time I used United Nigeria Airlines. The take-off was just terrible. I kept asking God why I’d die so unpoetically. In an ugly aeroplane on my way to Lagos. But Mumu me, I came back for round two. I thought it was a fluke. They should have put that craft to rest by now.

Dear reader, the wheels of this thing were shaking like an old man learning to stand again after suffering from muscle atrophy. We were taxing oh. Even if it were a car, this kind of feeling will make you want to say driver please stop and check your tires. As our speed increased so did the wobbling and more sounds. I was looking out my window to see the fire because I was so sure something had fallen apart and we were not gonna make it. We did. Take-off was rough and jerky (I don’t think we can blame the pilot) but we survived with our mouths whispering prayers. The Hostesses and entire Flight crew were very polite and they offered very good services but everyone was too upset to notice.

Before I end this rant about an unpleasant travel experience, when I got to Lagos, I made a friend. A woman on wheels from Bauchi whose travel plans were jeopardised and scattered because of who? United Nigeria Airlines. They said that they couldn’t take her wheelchair. Can’t she just walk to the aircraft a bit? With crutches maybe and then they’ll carry her in and put her wheels in baggage? They were begging her to just manage. Now this person suffered a spinal injury in 2015 and has been unable to walk since then. I don’t know about you but I got so mad!

Persons with disabilities suffer all forms of discrimination and humiliation which is not needed in addition to the challenges they have to overcome daily. But in Nigeria, it’s wild! How can you reject a customer because they have a disability? I didn’t want to bring this out, but I’ve realised that until we speak up, we have no excuse to complain about the state of things. It is pathetic. That our ideas of inclusion start and end with ramps. Impractical ramps if I might add. What good is a ramp if it leads you to a plane you cannot enter? Or an escalator you cannot use? Or a door you can’t fit into? Do better! Everyone should please do better.

And a few weeks ago on Where Gifts Grow, we were having a call about brand and personal values and I complained about a terrible shopping experience. Oyinade and Melissa insisted that I tell everyone the name of the brand so they can also just avoid the person. I didn’t want to be a bad guy, giving bad reviews but my sister said something to me this weekend: if they’re badly behaved, why do they deserve customers’ money? So this is where I’ll stop. You can ask me questions in the comments or responses. This read is already a lot longer than I planned it to be. Thank you for staying with me. I hope you clap, share and tell me your thoughts. ICYMI, You can Read the First Along Series here and the Second, here.

Yours in service,

Ballie 💖

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Balpolam Idi

Live, Love, Give. But most importantly, Dream. Learner. Teacher. Wanderer.