FRANQUE ON A SUNDAY: NINE ONE ONE

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Recently I find that when people want to talk about me, they talk about someone who always seems to have something to say, always has the right thing to say without much thought.

While not soliciting cheap validation, sometimes I actually look over my shoulders, right and left, to confirm those are directed at me.

Frankly, there was a time when I could never think of a comeback to anything that was said to me immediately, or I will think of something really brilliant minutes, hours or days later. I still get those times, though not as regular. Let me be quick to say there is a HUGE difference between having what to say and having the right thing to say.

#Franque is my name
When I misplaced my passport in the UK (see Lost in London), my brother’s friend took me in kindly and she quickly went from acquaintance to family. Then there was her flatmate. She came through for me big time and, as it happens when two people of opposite sex are thrown together constantly – I felt it was the beginning of something.

It was one of those things everybody around you claim to see clear as crystal, but for you it is hazy, at best.

After the passport episode, everytime I was in London I went to visit them and when on her birthday the opportunity presented itself, I found myself opening and closing my mouth without emitting a single sound – despite having practiced that night as I rode the train and bus connections from Gatwick to Ealing broadway.

Once I helped her bring stuff back to Nigeria for her sister but because of the timing, I was unable to see her in person. Soon after, she was on my .

As soon as I checked her boarding pass and saw the name, I looked up to see an older version; tall confident and beautiful. Looking at that eerily familiar face, I felt my heart skip a beat and in that instant my mouth dried up. Licking my lips, I managed to croak a welcome with directions to her seat, and as she walked away I blurted out “Franque is my name.” As soon as those reached my ears, I wanted to kick myself. Franque is my name indeed. Of all introductions, I had to choose a lame “Franque is my name”.

She turned and her lips curved slightly, a smile that said “I understand”, and I felt the heat creep up the back of my neck to my ears.

There I stood feeling really silly, wishing the floor would open and swallow me up, or at least my colleague who was boarding with me would stop looking at me funny and just dial 911.
 
#How do I say…
I read a long time ago that women are attracted by what they hear, and my experience has taught me that a compliment or show of concern tells her more than so many other can.

While I rarely compliment women, when I do pay a compliment, it is genuine, and honestly meant as that – a compliment.

I was once on a that had been delayed out of Abuja because we had arrived Abuja pretty late the previous evening and were required, by regulation, to have minimum rest before we could operate. We were continuing to Accra, and that was so delayed, even I was irked.

Putting a cheery face over my true emotions, I would try and say something nice or empathetic to passengers as they came through.

When I saw her I looked at the finger of the left hand holding the strap of her handbag – married. It did not stop me admiring her good looks, and it was with the warm feeling she engendered that I flashed her one of my brighter smiles before asking “And how are you today, ma’am?”

Without even looking at me, she went ahead to tell me how inconsiderate we were at the airline. How badly run things were, how stupid the staff were and how exceptionally annoying and clueless the ground staff were. On and on she went, not letting me get in any apologies. When she ran out of steam, she snatched her boarding pass from my hand and, with a huff, walked off.

“Why did I bother to ask?” I muttered under my breath, as I took the boarding pass off the young lady behind her. A look at her name and I realised she was the woman’s daughter! She did not even let me wonder if she had heard as the smile she gave me told me I had been loud enough for her to hear.

Another day, I was boarding a flight from Monrovia to Lagos with a transit stop in Accra. I had everyone on board wait for two passengers and I was beginning to get irritated as I was on an ‘on time departure’ bound schedule. Then I saw them and my irritation did a moonwalk to the back burner.

Let me just say they were a vision to behold: slim figures in tank tops and shorts short enough to qualify as bum shorts. One had a pair of sunglasses on and the other had her glasses stuck in her hair, and the hair was long and flowing.

As they came aboard, my mumu pushed me to ask a question which was supposed to be the opening line for a compliment. “Wow! Is that really your hair?”

“Didn’t yo mamma teach you not to ask about a gurl’s hair?” She answered in an accent with the twang I have come to associate with Liberians.

I just stood there like a freshly landed fish, opening and closing my mouth.

Recently, I flew with my line manager on an assessment flight. For some reason it was our ‘early bird’ service to Abuja with a 06:05 departure. When she came on board I was taking inventory of service items in the back galley, so I went over the PA system to say hi and asked how her night went.

She walked to the back to meet me then said “I had a fight with my boyfriend last night, he gave me a red eye from crying most of the night. Right now I hate men.”

Whether she meant it or was joking was lost on me. I just stood there mouth half open without any hope of a comeback or recovery.

These events do not happen to me a lot these days, but whenever it does, I just stand there with my foot stuck so far in my mouth I usually need paramedics. Problem though is, I have never been able to ascertain Nigeria’s equivalent of the better known 911, 119, 199s of this world.
 
#Which is the way (shock therapy)
Exactly ten years ago today, the world witnessed one of the most dastardly acts in recent times – the hijack of four passenger planes in the United States of America, and the subsequent crashing of these planes: two into the World Trade Centre, one into the Pentagon Building and the fourth into a field as the hijack was foiled by some brave passengers.

We wailed, we lamented, we sermonised and then we forgot. Just like we let ourselves forget all other acts of terror all over the world: “it’s in the far away Middle East”, “it’s America jare”, “it’s Iraq jor” or “Iran”.

When of the attempted bombing of a passenger plane by broke in December 2009, after decrying the seeming senselessness of the act, we looked to lay the blame at any and every doorstep we could find, except ours, and we carried on; business as usual.

Well, not anymore.

The bombing of the Police headquarters, Abuja on the 16th of June, 2011 brought it closer home. And on Friday the 26th of August, 2011, the bombing of the UN House, Abuja simply screamed out: “We are not Ostriches!”

There is no more room for burying our heads in the sand.

We have heard different opinions as to why these acts of terror are being carried out. From political, through religious to ecomonic; from forces internal, forces external, forces extraterrestrial too.

We daily blame and then exhort the Government and Security agencies to wake up to their responsibilities in protecting us, most of it lip service. I even read somewhere, someone saying this is being orchestrated by “fifth columnists” to unsettle the government and force us into spending heavily on security instead of other sectors like education, health and power.

Whatever the case, we are not altogether helpless. We elected the government to work for us, we can make them truly work for us. Better than that, we can help them in their work of securing us.

Recently, we were asked to register our SIMs and it was considered an inconvenience; at airports we are asked to put our bags through for screening and we are irritated; liquids in clear bags, we grumble; switch phones off inflight, we remind the crew how we have been flying since before they were born; when asked to subject ourselves to electronic screening and manual frisking, we raise hell and take it to the senate; a passenger changes her mind about travelling after boarding a flight, and we give the crew hell for suggesting a security search of the entire cabin; we arrive at a transit stop and the crew asks for our boarding passes to confirm people are getting off where they should, and we remind them how we can read and know where you are going to; when asked to identify cabin baggage, we are too lazy to get up and physically confirm it yet we want to be safe and secure.

I could go on and on, but the truth is brains will begin to switch off – it would sound like teaching grown-ups to suck eggs. And as to why I have chosen aviation related examples, terror attacks involving aviation is usually very high profile. Plus this is the industry I know.

So family, let us do our little bit to help nip this not-so-new menace in the bud. If you see anything suspicious, do not touch it, do not investigate it, just dial 911 – or whatever the Nigerian equivalent is.

PS: The numerous fights in Jos, the flooding in Ibadan, the road accidents nationwide, kerosene and petrol stampedes, kidnappings – all the incidents in Nigeria’s current edition of “A of Problems” are no less painful or real, and my heart goes out to those who have lost people or property, or have been affected however indirectly by these.

God will help us, but we have to position ourselves for His help and blessings.

Franque

Franque

"Franque is in aviation, which by the way is not his job, just a lifestyle. If he ever kept a diary it would read like his articles will. Unfortunately he doesn't. Scratch that. He didn't.AIRtiquette is a walk in his shoes. Since regular isn't in his vocabulary, brace yourself for a bit of airwalking!" Follow @franque_521 on twitter.

22 comments

  1. It’s kinda hard picturing Franque in a situation whr he doesn’t hv a smart comeback. Dis happens to me a lot and in d moments whr I can even speak I sumtymz say things dt make me feel like permanently leavin my foot in my mouth… This has thot me to jst smile rather than respond.
    As for security, I totally agree dt we hv a part to play in securing ourselves. I heard sumone complaining some days ago abt d inconvenience of d “stop and search” routine goin on in many public places nd I was quick to remind him dt d real “inconvenience would b havin a bomb explode while ure out nd abt ur business.
    (Sorry for d long comment) *covers face*

  2. I still believe the ostrich mentality isn’t gone, esp 4 us here in Lagos…its easy to say “shebi its Abuja/Jos/Maiduguri”…we need to do our bit to ensure that this terrorism is no longer a part of our society…even if its d inconvenience of random security checks…and on this day that we remember those who have lost their lives/property to acts of terror let’s also remember to pray for our Nation…Good morning

    PS: franque tongue tied??? That’ll b d day…hehehe!

  3. Indeed we have to position ourselves for His help and blessings.

    Lwkm @“Didn’t yo mamma teach you not to ask about a gurl’s hair?”*straight face*bursting out with laughter

    Nice write up Mr Mba

  4. Wow.. This terrorism stuff is really major… And it affects everybody, even tho most of us wld prefer not to notice… Lemmie just say this, this past week, Boko Haram threatened to blow up a few Federal Universities, mine included… U can imagine d panic down here.. Its terrible!!! Now, everyone is careful.. But how careful can we really be?!Even the Students who are being protected still grumble when they have to be searched… Nobody wants to be ‘inconvinienced’infact security sef don tire to dey search… and that’s just sad!!!

    I’m done.. Great write up as usual Franque…

    R.I.P to the souls that were lost to this dastardly terrible way of showing who’s boss…

  5. Did you write this in a hurry because there were so many missing words. ” I was once on a….. That was delayed”
    Why would men see black ladies on long weaves and still proceed to ask is that your real hair?

  6. “Soon after, she was on my”…?
    Biko, you were looking at a woman with a GROWN UP daughter,she musta been HAWT!
    Yeah, the inconveniences of being security wise cannot be compared to the pain/death that could otherwise result.

  7. @ Miz_P: That indeed’ll be very inconvenient;
    @ Kay: Franque really is human;
    @ Mis_D: no need to kee str8 face. Just laugh for two;
    @ VM: in my limited French, iTake dat as an invitation to come n move in with u @ ur habitat under the bridge, iActually need a Surulere address, so iAccept;
    @ Jazz: what can iSay?
    @ Nena: that school bombin threat is one that iDon’t even get. Y’all be vigilant n safe
    @ iKnow x2: it’s Official: Faruk has caught a bug! A real life Gremlin dat is choppin my words!!! As soon as iGet off this aircraft in Lagos, iWill rectify;
    @ MaBijo: She’s foine. As for the missin word(s) – Gremlins!

  8. Franque on sunday…hmmmm
    Told u ll’d stop by… U see…

    911…Never been a gud day for me
    Nice one…ll’d also stop by again
    As promised 🙂

  9. Franque I find it hard to believe you can be lost for words, but then again you are human. Dis had me laughing, cos it applies to me. I don’t think I’m good with quick comebacks, I go over situations in my head long after its happened, coming up with several responses.

    I think we Nigerians are generally impatient $ don’t like to be told what to do, its a shame tho.

  10. Two “laffing-till-my-sides-hurt” points in dis article 1) *Franque is my name?!* Really and as such she shld av been blonde enof 2say “and mine is…(Insert fantasy name hia) or “Nice name,I’d always hoped my dream guy wld bear dat name” and then wiv a loan 4m Aladdin,U’d fly oFf in2 d Sunset?! CHOI!!! Falling hand pick-up line 4m d Master himself. 2) The daughter wit d “I-heard-wat-U-said-to-my-mom-behind-her-back” smile, wat iWld give 2see d look on ur face @ dat moment.#PRICELESS. Biko Franque, Promise me U wnt be attempt 2be one of those guys dat try 2pull a public suprise/stunt on their girl ‘cos if it goes awry,iEnvision a Record-breaking “freshly landed fish” moment by thee. L.O.freaky.L
    On a serious note, for me it dint take d Louis Edet Hse bombing 2bring it home ‘cos iNarrowly missed being in Abacha BarrAcks “fishing” wen it went off in a bang during d Xmas period. And it amazes me ow soon almost evry1-save those who are directly involved-are quick 2forget,until sumting comes along dat jolts us 1ce again. The Lord is our protection and shield, may we neva refuse 2stay under his wings wen he wants no harm 2come 2us and may d souls of all the departed rest in peace. Amen
    P.S: much iShld be ashamed 2say it,in all this decade,I’d always thot it was 3planes hijacked never knew abt d one which was foiled by its passengers. On behalf of myself n all who r in d same canoe wiv me bt wld rather they wer in a yatch,thanks for d enlightenment. 🙂
    P.S.S Like Miss Parker,iApologise 4d long reply and 4makin it longer by adding dis “PSS” :p

  11. I apologise in advance for the length of my comment, lol.
    A couple of years ago, my friends and I went to see a movie at galleria. After the movie, we were about to cross the road to get a cab, when I spotted this guy from my primary school whom I had had a crush on. Coincidentally, he bore the same name with one of my friends. One of my frind tried to get his namesake’s attention, and I was like shhhhh!!!! I dint want him to turn. We eventually crossed and I found myself beside him. He recognised me and I say hi and…. ‘My friend bears ur name as well. I dint want to call her name so you wouldn’t turn and think I was calling you’ (or something of the sort)
    He gave me the look and said ok….
    I wished the ground would swallow me…

  12. I happen to travell a lot (not as much as Franque of course). The aviation system, like a lot of things in the country, is really messed up. I try to be polite to the staff and it helps when they are nice and courteous.
    I came back to ph fron lagos on saturday. I was on the check in queue for over an hour, was still on it when the first noarding call was made. Eventually checked in my bag and boarded. I had to open my hand luggage and bag 2 times before boarding. Was frisked twice as well.
    After all the hustle n bustle, I arrived PH only to be told my bag would be put on the next available flight, which was leaving Lagos in about 3 hours.
    The conveyor belt and scanning machine had gone bad, so FAAN was doing the search manually. The PH staff had been informed way ahead of time ( before the plane left Lagos) that some luggage would not arrive. Were the passengers informed? Of course not. Our bags are not important.
    Its the attitude the staff have that gets to most people (I think)

  13. @basooh: it’s been a bit sha. Hope u r good;
    @ Lorlah: Amen;
    @ alibaba: iThrowey salute;
    @ Soray: iHear u bro. Don’t lemme ask u for my chox sha;
    @ ibetapassmynebo: iSee u; iTrust ya government;
    @ Chicasa: me n u both;
    @ Mateelly: iFeel u on all counts. The Ikeja cantonment explosions remain fresh in my memory;
    @ Nengie: sorry dear, we will bash those airlines, and ancillary service(s) providers yet;

  14. A nice friend of mine sugested 360nobs 2 me, and specificaly told me 2 wacth out 4 you. Mehn! This particular one, I wish the whole Nigeria could read this and drop som un-neccessary pride. All d same, I like lookin out 4 U.

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