I was already heading to the island to do some shopping for my customers when it occurred to me that it would be best that I withdraw some cash from an ATM close to home, to avoid getting stranded. I decided to go to the nearest bank that I was sure would have cash.
I got to the ATM of the bank and queued up behind some guy in a green shirt, black jeans and sneakers. As we waited, some of the ATMs ran out of cash but the ATM I queued to use didn’t. As the others queued up again, I mumbled a silent prayer that the money wouldn’t run out. After waiting for about 15minutes, the most frustrating thing happened; the ATM stopped dispensing cash.
With hisses, frustrated sighs and mumbled curses, the lot of us money seekers “exodused” to the next bank and queued again. The green shirt guy who had been in front of me on the former queue was now second on the new queue. He began to mumble and pace, it was obvious he had grown impatient.
As we waited, a young police officer arrogantly strolled to the beginning of the queue and stood right in front of the green shirt guy. I moved slightly out of the queue to observe the exchange I was certain would ensue.
“Bros, please excuse me, it is almost my turn to withdraw and I’m in a hurry”, the green shirt guy said in a surprisingly calm voice.
“Are you mad?” The young officer barked at him rather offensively.
“No, I am not. I was queued up already before you got here. Even if you are in a hurry, the proper thing was to ask for my permission to withdraw before me”, retorted the green shirt guy.
That set the young officer off on a bout of rant and endless threats of arrest and imprisonment. I sized both of them up; I figured they’d be in the same age group, somewhere between 27 – 32. Yet, the young officer referred to the green shirt guy as a boy severally.
The green shirt guy defended himself rather impressively, “and on what charge will you arrest and imprison me? Do I strike you as someone who doesn’t know his right? I promise you that you won’t withdraw before I do”.
Just then, the person who was withdrawing left and then the tussle started. They both dragged each other, each one trying to make it to the ATM before the other. Wanting to put a stop to their struggle, the young officer grabbed the green shirt guy by his jeans like a criminal.
Then the bickering started. It was really embarrassing to watch: an officer of the law having a shouting match with a civilian, especially because he was wrong. What a disgrace! As they bickered on, the next person after the green shirt guy quietly made for the ATM.
It turned out, a senior air-force officer had been on the queue all along, silently observing as the scenario unfolded. The naval officer separated them. He faulted the police officer for being uncivil and abusing his power. He ordered that the young officer move to the end of the queue as was appropriate.
The air-force officer also faulted the green shirt guy for picking a fight with a force officer. The green shirt guy complained that he was in a hurry and so the air-force officer asked how much he was going to withdraw. The green shirt guy responded that he wanted to withdraw N3,000.
I stared wide eyed, unable to blink. I was sincerely conflicted at that point; I didn’t know whether to laugh or empathize with him. I wondered if that was all he had and tried to imagine how truly frustrating it must be to go through all that hurdle for such a small amount.
I snapped out of my reverie as I watched the air-force officer count N3,000 from a very slim wad of N500 notes and hand it over to the green shirt guy. The air-force officer also offered his complimentary card, advising that the green shirt guy call him for help. I smiled as I watched the green shirt guy thank the air-force officer and walked away.
Finally, it was my turn to withdraw…