Lagos has an uncanny way of fixing it’s branding coinages into your head.
‘Eko o ni baje’
‘Lagos is working’
One of them promised you the super ease of being able to move about with your millions, and spend same in seconds, at a single swipe.
I understand that I have no business going to Oyinbo or eko market with my card, wait for the woman to shift her tray of egusi aside and give me pos device. In spite of this, I decided to stop looking like an Onitsha main market shop Landlady, spitting on my fingers and counting bills each time I did grocery shopping.
But like all other things you experience in this same lagos that is working, the bad roads of some areas, the uncouth gun corking policemen, the rude bully who can stop you in the middle of the road in the night to spew forth incoherences, I fear that Cashless Lagos may have disappointed me.
On a fine Sunday evening, I decided to drive the Kids to a nearby KFC. They had fun ordering my sweat away and it was bittersweet when the attendant packed it all and informed
I offered her my Mastercard and in mini seconds, she flung it back at me
“Our POS is not working”
I mentally made an excuse for the rudeness, she was probably having a bad day attending to all the customers on the queue. So I ask with a smile
“Is there anything we can do about it? I have just my cards in my wallet and no cash”
(Let me explain that for you; sometimes in cashless lagos, you would have bought some goods, card payments will have issues and then they sweetalk you into allowing one of their attendants to follow you to an ATM machine and pick the cash)
“No, ma” came the rude retort
You people know I’m Royalty, I kent fight in public, I escorted my children nicely out. The pleas that followed came too late, the explanation of N6000 worth of unpaid for junk to her superiors isn’t exactly why I came in the first place.
Children? They can make you renege on private swears you have sworn not to do again. I drove to another KFC outlet, the counter read, for illustration, N5,995.90k, I offered her my card and saw N6000. I asked why I had been approximated
“That is what we were trained to do”
I gently explained to her, that one of the advantages I should get by making payments with my card, is that I should be debited in exact figures, and saved their silly stories of we don’t have change. She insisted and I left it, because I am Nigerian and that is what we do, sometimes.
Let’s move to a store in Shoprite, where an attendant walked up to me and assumed that my afro hair meant that I was a part of these new generation natural hair carrying product junkies. She began to reel off a million things I hadn’t heard of and how they would better the life of my hair. Quite a pleasant and nicely persuasive lady, I gave in and bought of one the items.
“N1800” She smiled.
I resisted the wise voice in my head, warning me against impromptu and unbudgeted buys, and gave her my card
“We can’t accept card for this payment, ma, what you bought is below N2000”
Me, I just laughed to my car and congratulated the voice of wisdom in my head for winning, because as my people would say Ike adiro m.
I also recall having to use an ATM machine in Oyinbo market, I withdrew N10,000 of torn and dirty notes. And I complained to the security man, who tried to make it look like I had come to the machine with the dirty notes, saw it wasn’t working, and then proceeded to tell me it was past 4.00pm and I couldn’t be let into the banking hall. He asked that I return and see the branch head the following day. I issued a few intelligent threats and had the notes changed.
Sometimes you are on Long queues at the ATM machine because there is no network.
And then yesterday, I went shopping with my Big sister, as we made to use the ATM machine, we were warned by a passerby, that the machine was very very hungry, and had been swallowing cards all day. We laughed through the disgust, because we are Nigerians, and that is what we do sometimes.
Is it the new style of robbery, where your card pin is beaten out of your mouth, and you are made to bear the ensuing debit alerts in fear and trembling?
The definition of Cashless Lagos is changing daily, for my friend Cocomma, it now means ensuring that your debit cards are very well hidden when you go out, incase you meet the naughty boys.
For me, it means that I go back to my old ways of leaving my house with all the cash that I need, it means that when I go to those big stores and outlets, I may hold my cards, if I so desire, but matters of cash are no longer optional.
Cashless Lagos now means a lot of cash and a whole lot less…of cards.