FRANQUE’S AIR.tiquette: Tradin tackles

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Recently, I was stuck in Dakar for three days and I was going to write about the experience, but on my flight back to Lagos something happened which pushed those days’ experience(s) to the back burner.

We had boarded the aircraft and I had changed out of my uniform since I was travelling as a passenger.  I had taken over the last row of seats so that after take-off I would put up the arm rests dividing the individual seats to leave me with a ‘flat bed’ to sleep on. I was feeling unwell so I really needed the rest.

She walked all the way to the back, stopped right next to where I was sitting, then turned and walked all the way to the front of the aircraft. She was wearing a boubou of a fuschia coloured material. It stayed with me because only recently I had had a conversation with a friend who believed that only women and artists, a word I am sure he was using loosely, are supposed to know more than the primary colours and black. I would have quickly forgotten about her, but then she walked right back down peering at faces as she came.

When she reached my seat this time, I got up and asked her if everything was okay.

“There is a passenger I am looking for, I gave her a bag to carry for me. She is wearing black…”

A wave of déja vu washed over me. I had heard those words before. Not once, not even twice. The thing is, it never got old.

 ***

“Please, I am looking for a passenger that should be on this flight but I can’t find him.”

“Well, boarding is still in progress so hopefully he’ll be with the next set of passengers coming on. I hope everything is alright though,” I said to the lady standing in front of me, dressed in a bomber jacket over a polo necked shirt and a pair of jeans.

“Nothing much, thank you.” And she returned to her seat and I promptly forgot about her. When boarding was completed, she came back to the door.

“Do you have a name for this passenger, ma’am?” My Cabin Service Supervisor asked her.

“Yes actually, I do.” She gave his name and my supervisor paged the passenger. The Flight Service Manager called from her door and when the CSS hung up, she turned to the passenger and asked her if she was travelling together with the man. “Yes we are travelling together,” she answered.

“Well, he has been offloaded from the flight for misorderly conduct.”

“Ehn? And I just met him o.”

It turned out the lady had only just met the man at check-in and, having more bags than she was entitled to and not wanting to pay for excess, she had befriended him and pleaded with him to let her check-in the bags in his name. No problem.

Problem was, not a huge fan of flying, he often needed a drink or two for Dutch courage to help him cope with his fear of flying. On this occasion though, he went over his personal limit and this loosened his tongue. So not only did he reek of alcohol, which sometimes was enough to get one bumped off a flight, he also threw a few choice words at my Manager, words that caused her to blush a deep crimson and call airport security.

He was taken off, kicking and screaming, to a holding cell to cool off. He and the bags tagged in his name.

She was distraught as she had trade goods in the bags, but then that sometimes, is the price one pays for trusting strangers.

 ***

So as soon this woman opened her mouth to describe the person she gave her bag to, I was once again thrown by human nature. What was more, she did not even know the woman’s name!

Funny thing was, on that day, we had two flights out of Darkar: one through Cotonou, and the one I was on through Banjul and Accra.

She just saw someone holding an airline boarding pass and handed her the bag. My bet was, the woman in black was on the other flight.

In my line of work I have met really resourceful Nigerians, but the most resourceful for me are the women I have met on the Dubail route. The ones that deal in fabric.

My first encounter shocked me beyond words, and I spent the entire flight marveling at them.

They come on board looking rotund and ready to burst. I am talking ample women, usually dressed in boubou or big caftans. Then they go into the toilets and spend almost an eternity there. When they come out though, the transformation is something else: they are slimmer, dressed in t-shirts and jeans, and looking almost pretty. They however have a bundle with them you do not remember them going into the toilet with. Even the will have to give it to these women.

What they do (and I still can’t say how they accomplish it) is, they wrap some of the fabric around themselves and hold them in place before draping the boubou over themselves. The toilet is the discharge-and-reassemble centre.

After all, as Mama has been known to say, “Nobody ever became king by throwing good money away.”

PS: On Sunday, I was at a ‘Twitter-based’ social gathering: The Naked Convos #TNC2.

I skipped a family gathering and said “No” when the office called me out for a flight. If you know anything about me, it probably will be that work comes first for me – right after family. So if I skipped a family gathering, work did not stand a chance!

I arrived at the venue a little before 4pm and as soon as I walked in, I knew we could not possibly start at 4pm as ‘advertised’. Shoot! I had set up a date for 6:30pm and I was hoping I would be able to accommodate both in the time I had. The forming of attendees na DIE, it took twitter handles to break the ice for a lot of people. Maybe we should wear handle tags next time.

It opened with Ese Peters’ accoustic rendition of Wande Cole’s “Taboo” and it got interesting from that point on. Sadly, I had to leave for my date; I heard it got wild after I left, my loss.

So now, I am sitting on this slightly warm aircraft to Monrovia, and I am thinking how the ’ember’ months have been kind to this son of the Mbas – so far. Hopefully, November will have a whole lot more for me – it has to! Afterall, it is my birth month.

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.

16 comments

  1. Airport friendship no be am esply in d name of helping wit excess Luggage. Once iWas moving some of my personal effects 4m Los to Abv and after trying 2coax 1guy in2 helping me and he gave terms and conditions even a sex worker’s patron wld cringe @,iRespected myself and paid my excess of over 5k. Only ystrday, my friend recounted d story of a babe who entrusted him wit her atm 2help withdraw money so she wldnt be late for dropping off her laptop-this is some1 she juz shared a bible class wit but dint even know his name-REALLY!!! Fate not so kind, his phone went dead and she had a mild panic attack @ his delay aldoe all ended well eventually. All of them get mind, as for me iNo fit Shout!!!

  2. Waoh! I’ve actually handed a big box of clothes to an hotel mate when I realised we were on the same flight from dubai to Lagos. I had my eyes on him till we took off though,so no tricks and I got his details.
    Lol @ wearing handle tags. Not everyone was from twitter jo.

  3. People can be so trusting and unfortunately more often than not, the people they choose to trust do not return the favour. Generally speaking, we hv to be careful, if u choose to go down that route, be like Majibo, lol…
    I hear the TNC series are loads of fun… I hope I do not miss the next one, no dates that day 😀
    Happy Birthday in advance!!!! Sending loads of love your way! Mwah

  4. Bou bou or caftan I still think parachute… Lol wonderfully written. Oh and I still marvel at your patience with pax. The Mbas must be proud

  5. The story about the boubou-wearing women had me thinking, ” You gotta be kidding me” AND having a wild time, laughing. Anyways, naija no dey carry last 🙂 Good read, as usual.

  6. Yay!Happy Birthday in advance.
    *eyes bobbling out*. Are you serious about those Dubai women?! U go fear!
    As for those who give luggage to people they don’t know, I dont know how they do it…As in that level of trust….uhm!

  7. Awww….happy birthday in advance Franque,what date is it?
    I’ve actually witnessed the Dubai transformation once,battle of excess luggage charge and all. Thanks for getting us entertained. 🙂

  8. Buhahahahahahahahaa No comment on the ojuju calabar turned beauty queen women in a matter of mins.

    When exactly is your date of birth?

  9. See me, the one time someone wanted me to carry part of their luggage for them I declined cos I was thinking the woman had contraband and wanted to use me as a courier* I think I watch too many movies*, never crossed my mind she wanted to save some money. Yay to November babies. I was born in November too 11/11. When is yours?

  10. So this reply is comin 2 days later. Reception is very bad in the Abule where iReside.
    @ ibetapassmynebor: yay, 1st! iSee u;
    @ Mateelly: Mehn! My liver no fit carry am at all;
    @ MaBijo: talk about “stuck on him like super glue.”
    @ nengie: TNC 2 was it o. Got my eyes peeled for #3;
    @ Kay: “awa naija a yato jor”
    @ Bumble Bee: The Mbas r a proud race, sorta lyk the Autobots. As for patience, iPick somethin or someone n focus on. It helps me keep it together;
    @ Olaedo: Thanx, iSee u 😀
    @ Aj Sarpong: Gld u liked it, and for the wish, save my slice of cake;
    @ Honeydame: U’ll be amazed at what passengers get up to. As for Nigerians, we r a different breed from the rest of humanity!
    @ Sylvia: Thanx for the wish, we still hav a few days to go;
    @ Phyxa: Thanx for sharin with us, make e no be lyk say iBe fabu master;
    @ Mercy: it’s in a few days;
    @ t: Glad u did;
    @ Okeoghene: Dat one sef dey o! Some ppl will make u into a mule n deny u flat out. U did the right thing. Paranoia works here;
    @ nengie: iNo go knock ya business;
    @ Everyone_else: This Friday’s another AIRtiquette Friday. See y’all then.

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