I was at the airport in Lagos, heading back to Abuja, wearing a t-shirt and jeans with headphones on and not fully awake yet. A pretty laid-back day.
We were in line to hand our boarding passes and id cards to the airline attendant who would check that the names on both documents are the same and that they matched the person about to board the plane.
In front of me was a tall lanky man with his laptop open. He had a laptop bag slung over his shoulder and was dressed formally. It was a morning flight and he looked like he was headed to a business meeting.
He had his open laptop balanced in one palm while he typed at it with the other hand. He was holding up the line, but the other passengers did not say anything as he moved forward slowly. When it got to his turn to check in, he was so engrossed in his laptop that he didn’t notice the attendant point to him and ask for his boarding pass.
The attendant then shook his head, looked at me behind him and waved me over. I shrugged, walked around the man on his laptop and gave the attendant my boarding pass and id card. The attendant looked the papers over and sent me to the next counter.
I was at the next airline counter waiting to get my seat verified when open laptop man walked up behind me and said something.
I didn’t hear him, because I didn’t expect him to be talking to me.
So I turned to face him and he repeated himself, “You know you should learn to be patient.”
I was quiet, I wasn’t sure I heard him correctly. I refused to believe that he would have anything to say other than a mumbled apology for using his laptop and holding up the line while other attentive passengers waited.
But he had opened his mouth twice and said it.
“You should learn to be patient.”
My mind was racing, and I was thinking, this is Lagos and I could fight this guy in line and still board the plane with no consequences. If I’m lucky, he will be sitting next to me on the flight, and I could fight him there again and the flight will still go on uninterrupted. The flight attendants will try to appease us, but they won’t do anything to interrupt our flow.
If it was anywhere else in the world, the instant I raised my voice, the instant I had a bad thought towards him, I would be sitting in an interrogation room answering questions about how well I know Abdulmutallab, why we have similar surnames, and when the next threat is.
But here, I can focus on him without any intervention from the authorities, and that was freeing.
So I went off on him.
“What!? The attendant was waiting for you and you were standing there using your laptop in line.”
Defiantly, he replied, “Well, you should have told me.”
Huh? Did he just say that? I thought I was avoiding confrontation by ignoring his antics on the line, but this dude must think I’m his mother or babysitter or something.
“JUST HOW RUDE ARE YOU? How self-important do you have to be to say something like that?! How selfish of you! And you are standing there still with your laptop open saying, ‘I should have told you.’
CLOSE IT! CLOSE IT AND SHUT UP so these people can do their jobs. And if you talk to me one more time….”
I left the threat hanging between us as I went through what could happen next.
He would say something and I would have to keep my end of the bargain by hitting him.
I would be going for collateral damage. I will knock down the laptop from his hand, then shove him to make some space. I will then concentrate on jumping on the laptop and crushing it into fine pieces, ignoring him as he hit me.
When I am done with the laptop, I will make sure there is blood (his or mine) on his business casual shirt. I would strangle him with his tie and rip it.
He can go to his meeting like that.
But he didn’t say anything, he just looked down and got out his documents. I really wish he would have because I had made all these grand plans.