Festus Okubor: Appreciating the oddities of everyday interactions (30 Days, 30 Voices)


Sometimes we get so caught up in the rat race and the big picture, we fail to appreciate the oddities of everyday interactions, the reliability of habits and systems, the peculiarities of personalities and the fresh smell of being alive every day.

There are always some things that no one really gets about you. You try to explain it, you get patronised: “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I understand you perfectly,” but they weren’t really listening.

I’m an introvert, and at best, socially awkward, occasionally bordering on full-fledged hermit yet I find myself thrust into situations everyday where I have to interact with a lot of people, and not run away or punch anyone.

You’d think people would be used to the fact that there are people that abhor social gatherings. Every Friday I have to (sometimes literally) fight off friends trying to drag me to clubs, or the dreaded weddings on Saturdays. Weddings frighten me. So when I say I’d rather read a book at home, they interpret that as “I’m gonna slit my wrists soon, save me!”

Sadly, we strong introverts endure these situations almost every other day. Extroverts can’t understand the battles we face just to get through a regular day without freaking out and shaking the teeth out of a co-worker. Every evening I give myself a mental medal for not spending the day curled up in fetal position. One thing about being an introvert is that you feel like you’re better than everyone else, or would be, if you put your mind to it. (Or is it just me?)

There are so many problems in society, we tend to forget that we all fight our personal battles each day, no matter how trivial they may seem and we prevail.

Here are some of the things that freak me out:

1. Elevators: Everyone that knows me knows elevators are bad, bad things. What more do you want? Awkward silences, body odours, the thought of plunging down ten floors to a gruesome death, beside co-workers you absolutely despise? No sir.

As simple and boring and unromantic as they look, elevator rides require a lot of skill and calculation for the socially awkward individual. How do you compose yourself? How do you subtly ensure that you’re the nearest person to the exit, in case one of the occupants decides to start biting people? How do you ignore latecomers that shout for you to hold the doors, without thinking you hate them (or if you do hate them, how to avoid them for the rest of the day?).

2. Children: I love kids, really. I love kids that are related to me. However, while sleeping, I believe someone must have tattooed “give him your children” on my head. How do you react when random strangers thrust their babies at you, or you’re in church and this child extricates himself from his nanny’s grip and comes lumbering over to you, it feels like the whole world is watching to see how you handle that child. Part of me wants to shoo him away (actually, most of me) but society frowns upon that, so you patronise the kid until he gets bored and runs off to another unfortunate victim.

3. Urinals: “How far now, how you dey?”

“Err, I dey. Just peeing, do you mind?”

I once had a guy attempt to discuss a business proposition at the urinals. In my mind, I’m like, “Something must be wrong with this fellow.”  Urinals are sacred places. Men are not supposed to have discussions while their private organs are enjoying time out in the sunlight. Well, heterosexual males anyway. Moving on.

4: Salutations: On the surface, its simple: “Good morning” in the mornings, “Good evening” in the evenings, right? Some of us manage to bumble our way through the day, saying ‘good evening’ at 9am and vice versa. The alternative would be to just offer a “Good day” whenever you meet someone, but whenever someone tells me “good day” all I hear is: “I’m too lazy, or you’re not important enough to me for me to remember exactly what part of the day it is, but I’m greeting you nonetheless.”

5: Pidgin: Is there a more helpless feeling than having a slang thrown at you that you don’t know how to respond to? Someone somewhere decided that “Which Way?” “How far?” “Which Levels?” Are appropriate ways of finding out how a person is feeling/doing. When someone uses a slang that popular culture dictates that you’re supposed to understand, but you don’t, I freeze for a second, like a deer caught in the glare of headlamps, then mutter my time tested reply: “We thank God”. Works every time.

Life is beautiful. Sometimes we get so caught up in the rat race and the big picture, we fail to appreciate the oddities of everyday interactions, the reliability of habits and systems, the peculiarities of personalities and the fresh smell of being alive every day. I’m grateful.


Editor’s note: Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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Comments (10)

  1. I'm not an introvert, I think, but everything here I have experienced and acted dsame way to, except d kids part. I love kids( dat are not cry babies)

  2. Hahaha! Wow, I enjoyed this. Plus I learnt new stuff about introverts. Thank you for this.

  3. Really funny. The part about children, I can relate with very much.(Children scare me. I feel like they put me on the spotlight and there's a certain way I'm expected to coo coo and gaa gaa with them).

  4. Aside from the elevator part,which in my opinion is what you hope you could do,the rest of this piece reflects a troubled child that feels too good about himself. A little 'lol' here n there no doubt but if this is how you say you appreciate life,I pray you don't die a loner away from true friends n loved ones.

  5. Witty…very interesting. The comical touch was divine. Well written Sir.

  6. I had to restrain myself from laughing out in the office. Excellent stuff I can relate with especially body odour in elevators.

  7. Nice work men.i can totally relate.i'm an introvert too,and my family members find me strange.but i ain't really botheredd sha…GODBLESS.

  8. Nice article, very funny one too. I literally lol-ed at the elevator part… Crazy stuff

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail