The Mall of Respect

“What’s inside your bag?” a female security officer with a bewitching blue eye asked me in a soft, almost musical voice as I was about making an entrance to the shopping mall.

“Nothing much, just my wallet and personal stuff” I replied whilst trying to open my bag for her to see the content inside the bag, after all, a clear conscience fears no accusation.

“You need not worry, happy shopping” she replied with a captivating smile.

As I stepped into the mall, the whole place looked unusually scanty with most stores closed because the State government have issued a stay at home order and instructed for the closure of all non-essential stores as measures put in place to thwart the COVID-19 pandemic.

I always love to visit the shopping mall every opportunity I get because the place stimulates my innate consciousness as to why I need to make lots of money. This is a place where you get to see the affluent express wealth in a very admirable way. Ajebutter kids never fail to capture my attention. Wearing their Hollister jean shorts they blend different Coldstone flavours, playing virtual reality games and the boys seated waiting to get an expensive haircut that’s way more than my annual hair plan. Indeed, “ego di nma.”

Approaching the Shoprite counter, I dropped my bag as I collected an identity card for which I will use to reclaim my property after shopping. I observed everybody going into the store are expected to sanitize their hands to prevent the risk of getting infected with Coronavirus.

I quickly studied the way the wall-mounted automatic hand sanitizer works since it’s my first time using such an “Oyinbo magic” and I wouldn’t want to disgrace myself or carry last as a Warri boy. I placed my hands under the sanitizer and automatically, it dispensed two puff of gel into my palm. “Mama I made it,” I said under my breath with a broad smile. Rubbing my palms together, I experienced a cool sensation as I even had to refrain myself from rubbing my face with the gel.

I shook my head as I entered the store and collected a big basket while fantasying about the day I will finally get to use the trolley basket meant for people buying lots of goods. My only mission was just to buy meat and nothing else.

For some weeks now, I have dished Aunty Ada fish for the cheap meat at Shoprite with the sole aim of adding weight while spending less. I quickly located the session for meat products and then I discovered there was a problem.

All the cheap meat has been bought leaving only expensive chicken wings and bones. “Well, I cannot come and kill myself” I picked a bone with a price tag of two hundred and nine Naira doubting if the bone is meant for human consumption or dogs. “Anyway, the bone will make my pot of stew to be heavy and the marrow will add flavour to the stew. If you can’t chew meat at least suck the bone.” I encouraged myself.

I began to take a stroll to the different sections in the store just to consume time as I wouldn’t want to be the guy who entered and came out of Shoprite in less than three minutes “Abeg no be me poor pass.” While roaming about I looked up and saw an inscription “Sanitary Pads – Line 4.”

Like Mungo Park, I decided to check the section out before exiting the store. As I entered the section, I saw different skincare products, perfume, pads, mouthwash, disinfectant, etc. The loud sound of “puff puff” drew my attention as I saw two guys probably in their mid-twenties spraying a Versace perfume to probably perceive the aroma.

“Is this even allowed?” I wondered as I continued to walk to the counter to make my payment since minding your business is the gateway to long life.

Almost immediately, a female staff walked up to the guys and informed them calmly that spraying of perfume before a purchase is not allowed. The guys blatantly denied that they never sprayed it.

“But I saw you guys,” she said innocently.

“It’s okay oh, mind your business or you will see something” one of the guys threatened like a tout.

Sometimes, we threat store attendants, gatekeepers, cleaners, etc. in a very inhumane way and even give them a negative attitude just because we believe their profession does not deserve an iota of respect. We see these set of persons as people who are beneath our level and they must be treated cruelly. “What do we have to treat others like thrash?” Exodus 20:12 instructs us to honour our parents to live a fulfilled life. In this context, it is not just our parents we must honour and respect but also people we encounter especially those who offer one service or the other.

Respect people irrespective of their gender, class or profession because at the end of the day, we will be accountable for all our actions. Those guys were wrong to have threatened the defenceless lady for doing the wrong thing. She probably did not probe the issue further because they say “the customer is always right” and of course she is not desirous getting any query from her manager. The cleaners and gatekeepers are beautiful people we must honour and respect.

Try this, next time you go the bank and the gatekeeper opens the door for you, tell him “Thank you.” Trust me, it’s going to be an amazing experience. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others.” Spread the love today because after all, we are all products of God’s divine mercy and grace.

“Your money is forty-five thousand and three hundred Naira” the cashier announced to the man in front of me.

“Wow!, just the things inside this small basket forty-something thousand? Nna ehn, I must make this money oh.” Expectedly, the man counted the money showing no concern and gave the cashier who handed him a receipt and he disappeared.

I dropped my bone in front of the cashier and greeted “Good Afternoon.”

© Lion O.B.O

29th March 2020


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