Service With a Smile

Disclaimer: Please, I am not saying that all Nigerians are like this. I am just talking about the encounters that I have had. I love my people and think that we are one of the best in the world. This is just something that I have happened to encounter and a few people have agreed, tends to be common.

Before I go into what I want to talk about, I just want to give a little update on how things are going. Things are going ok. I have met a bunch of nice people and a lot of them are in Bar 2. I wasn’t expecting Bar 2 to be so nice for a reason I’m not even aware of myself. Lectures are going ok but na wa for the reading. It is the profession I have chosen so I have no excuse to complain but I believe that if you want to complain, you should be able to. It is just something to get out of your system. As for the food, it is ok. I eat rice most of the time but I do eat chicken and chips from time to time. I am thinking of Chinese next time and we are lucky that there is a shop within the mami market that sells Chinese food (If it is the wrong spelling, abeg I don’t know how to spell it). The staff are really nice, at least most of them are. Generally, this is a good place but I complain too much but I think it’s understandable. It is not easy.

What I would like to go into is this whole thing about customer service in Nigeria. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really nice people but there are other really amazing human beings with ugly insides that I have come across. They do not care that they are meant to provide you with a service, they will talk to you as if you have nothing better to do with your life than to come out of your place of abode to disturb them.

When I first got to Abuja, the taxi driver was arguing with a colleague of mine about the fare. Apparently she knew him so she was trying to reduce the fare as much as she could. I got tired of their bickering and asked him numerous times how much the fare was so I could pay him and get out of the car. He blanked me and continued arguing. When he had finally shut up, he claimed that I had not asked him how much the fare was even though I had a witness beside me backing me up. Instead of him to take the money from me, he refused and started sulking. He told me that it is not as if he needs the money. I was thinking, “How is that my business?” and asked him when had I told him that he needed the money. It was my fault for entering their argument. I should have just left the taxi.

The other situation I encountered was with someone who was meant to unblock my phone which was unsuccessful. He had already been paid and said I could come and get it the next day. I called him the next day and he said again, the next day. I waited for two days until I got angry because he was taking the absolute piss. I went to meet him so I could get the phone and get my money back.  Instead of him to say sorry or explain what the issue was, he started getting angry and was speaking in Yoruba to people around him, obviously complaining. It does not matter what language you speak. Sometimes people will know what you are saying. We went to meet the man that he had given the phone to unblock and when I complained, the “man” handed me the money saying something along the lines of “It is just ordinary 10,000 Naira…” He was saying this not only to me, but the people around me because Nigerians like audiences. “Look at all the phones I am fixing. The phone I have cost me more than 10,000 Naira.” I did not give a flying monkey about whether he had the Blackberry Porsche. I just wanted either my phone unblocked or my money back. The result was the latter.

The next person is the rude man that I asked to help me get my door handle fixed. It fell off again because obviously it was not put up properly in the first place and he looked at me for five seconds as if I was a nagging wife. The rest of the time I was standing there, he was leaning his head on his arms so he wasn’t looking at me. Apparently, I have to fill in a stupid form which they don’t even have so I have to wait till Monday. What made me laugh was that they were expecting me to call someone and pay to have it fixed. If they had better maintenance, I wouldn’t have to. I also found it funny how he says that he is nice and it is not for people younger than him to tell him to be nice. If he was nice, he wouldn’t have people telling him to be nice. Age does not matter. Just because you are older than people does not mean that you should treat them anyhow. It is only because of the African custom of respect otherwise he would not be getting any respect at all. If I don’t greet him, I bet he’ll say that I lack home training. Hiss.

Customer service at Nigerian hospitals is another thing. People hardly smile. I am lucky I came across some nice people at the hospital who were happy to help me but the others, wow.

A few people have told me that I should grin and bear it and that it is just Nigeria but why should we have to settle for such an excuse? That is why people like that get away with it because one, they know that only a few people will answer back and two, who are you going to report them to and even if, will they care? It may come across as if I have joined the great number of people who are constantly complaining about Nigeria but seriously, things have to change. Some people wonder why they are constantly at a point in their life where they are not happy. It is because of the way that they treat others.

Update: The door handle guy and I are somewhat friends now. The handle is fixed and now that I am not asking him constantly to fix it, everything is fine. 

Someone gave me great advice today. He told me that if I encounter rude people, tell them a joke and don’t respond to them the way they are addressing you. They might have had a bad day and it may be through you that they will feel better. I will try and adopt that.



12 thoughts on “Service With a Smile

  1. Yup! That’s naija for you. Most people are frustrated with their lives. What I do is smile, I just smile while interacting with people. It puts them at ease: not every time but often. You’d be fine, just accept that people are not always nice but you’ll be nice to them anyways… Have fun! 🙂

  2. The dude who asked you to ‘tell them a joke’ must be really wise. Showing many folks you can retain a sense of humour, even when they are not treating you right, usually softens them up – it usually works for me. You don’t have to apologize, customer service is really-truly terrible in Nigeria.

  3. I guess the telling a joke thing could work, but it really depends on who it is… if you have been out in Lagos, for example, everyone there just seems to be in a constant foul mood and I can imagine making a joke and someone turning it around to insult.
    I guess it isn’t their fault though, it’s the life.

    I just try to be nice and very polite to everyone I meet, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ with a smile.

  4. Aww sorry about all the struggle! I feel like too many Nigerian workers are just very bad tempered. Even when you smile at people, they (especially women) might just refuse to smile back haha. Oh well, don’t let them get you down! Good luck with Bar 2! Coincidentally, my sister is in Abuja for law school at the moment as well ^_^

    • Thank you so much! I will survive, lol! Like I have a choice. 🙂 I hope your sister does really well in the exams. Bar 2 is not easy at all. I bet she’s excited she’s finishing soon. 🙂

  5. I could not stop laughing. You can start a consultancy service on customer care. I mean it. But deeply most Nigerians have beautiful heart but you may not notice on first encounter.

    • Thank you! Lol. If I start one, will anyone sign up? 🙂 I can see what you mean. I have that issue a little. I come across as stern but I am so nice. I just don’t get rude when they ask me for help. We all suffer from it at times.

  6. Aww, I totally understand! I remember in the past I was moved to tears each time I got treated nicely by some kind stranger while trying to process one thing or the other, lol! It is true that a little humor helps lighten the mood (it worked for me a few weeks ago) but then again, the person may not understand and feel more agitated, but its a more peaceful approach.
    I am glad that you are settled and generally having a good time – and by that I’m not referring to the reading part! 🙂
    All the best!

    • Hello!!!

      Thank you so much. I hope things are going well with you. 🙂 I’ve been trying the humour route but I don’t get a great response. I’m learning how to overlook the rude ones.

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