Two weeks ago, I stumbled on one of those airline promos and jumped at the offer to pay full price to Lagos and half price on my return flight. I had been meaning to make the trip since January but this helped me make up my mind now two months later.
I promptly bought the ticket and forgot about it till realization crept up on me a day before. After a long day at work, a brief stint at church and hosting a colleague to a send off/hang out of sorts, the thought of packing a bag let alone flying wasn't appealing.
All I could manage was to find my ticket and ID for my flight the next morning. It was going to be hard to wake up at 4am but my alarm clock would help chase sleep away.
4: 00am . Stirred after the alarm went off. Called Abuja cab guy. I hoped I hadn't disturbed his wife.
5:30am: Cab was waiting. I had managed to pack a change of clothes. Would latter find out I didn't pack a toothbrush, a sponge or bathing soap.
5:35am: Went back upstairs to change because I discovered I had mismatched a red pair of sandals with a fushia pink shirt! Was fully awake by this time and happier with a red polo shirt I found.
6:30am: Checked in. They made me take my belt, jewelry and shoes off. Hate it when they do that!
7:05am: Boarded, called my mum, Lagos cab guy and Haruna. Then found a comfortable position and opened the pages of my copy of "The Silent Vengeance of a freedom fighter" by Albie Sachs while pretending I wasn't nervous as the plane took off.
7:50am: Touch down. Made quick friends with Bayo, the guy I spied with one of those cars meant to whisk disabled travelers outside. It didn't take more than my shinning teeth and a polite request and he gave me a ride to the chagrin of an elderly mind who eyed us gingerly as we rode past.
Me, Bayo and Albie on my laps.
8:05am: Had breakfast at KFC while waiting for Lagos cab guy. It was served by Elems, she had a wicked Mo' cheddah eye brow under her red cap.
8: 45am: Off to the heart of Lagos, meandering through crazy traffic. The cab driver pointed out the scene of the Dana crash as we passed it and we lamented at the horror of the events of June 3rd, 2012. I remembered I had seen a Dana aircraft at the airport and had wondered vaguely who had the heart to fly them and who had the heart to let them fly so soon after the incident. I lost people in that crash, so I am understandably biased.
I made good with time and decided not to wait till the next day. There was just one problem. I would soon find out.
I jetted to the airport tired but comforted by the image of my bed waiting to heal my used body and help me recover my spent energy.
"I'll like to change the time of my flight", I explained to an orange clad, customer service lady. She understood and showed same as she took the flight details and punched rapidly at her computer keyboard. I could tell something was awry as I read her face while she read details hidden from my view on her screen.
"I am sorry but this ticket cannot be changed, it is buy and fly."
I wondered momentary at the phrase trying to digest it but I knew whatever it meant was bad news for me.
"I want to speak to someone else I insisted", getting a clearer picture on her second explanation. My ticket was a buy and fly. It was buy and fly because it was half price. It was half price because it was a promotional ticket.
I heard her clearly but didn't really. I was listening to the irate Nigerian in my head ranting about how the ticket could definately be upgraded. I was still well within the promo period, surely they could charge me the regular rate of 3,000 naira or 5,000 naira to change the flight.
"You can speak to my Madam" was the annoyed and crisp response I got.
Her tone discouraged me a bit but the disappearing image of Abuja skies and pink bed spreads littered with cuddly teddy bears calling my name in the distance, urged me on.
"Let me hear from you", Mrs Madam had overheard the brief exchange minutes before.
This time I started differently. I knew the ticket was a buy and fly I said, laughing to myself at my quick assimilation of aviation lexicon to get what I wanted. I continued my appeal to her ego by claiming that I knew it was within the power of someone in the position to upgrade it. I wanted to go home, I added in a tone diluted to a lonesome whisper.
She alone could do what I was asking for afterall it was a buy and fly she said, but it would cost me an additional 22,000 naira she ended dropping the ball back firmly in my court.
"Ah!" It came out as an expression on my face. The sound failed to follow.
Reality brought wisdom.
What harm would it do me to sleep one night in Lagos?
I would sleep jor! Twenty two kini?
The time was 5: 15pm. It was "almost tomorrow". I headed to my cousin's house in Lagos and settled for the heat.
7:00pm: Dinner was underway. The estate rationed power supply street by street. It was their day off. I hid my disappointment at the thought of a "lightless" night.
7:15pm: The generator was powered on and I cheered up. It wasn't half bad. I just needed to see the bright side.
9:00pm: Watched some action movies and enjoyed my cousin's kids.
11:00pm: Chatted with Haruna and after much negotiating, agreed to sleep.
8:00am: Woke up and got ready for my trip. I had two extra bags from shopping the day before. I found something new from one of them to add to my outfit.
9:30am: Lagos cab guy was waiting. My cousin warned me not to let him charge me exorbitantly.
10:00am: Checked in. Found out my flight had been delayed from 10:45am - 12:45pm. Decided not to sweat it. There was time to eat something. Chatted with the northerner next to me. Saw Bayo. Said hello.
11:00am: Food was crap! More Haruna to keep me company.
12:40pm: Boarded. Called mums and Abuja cab guy. Out came Albie Sachs to help me cope with take off and touch down.
1:30pm: Home sweet home. The pilot must have let his junior co-pilot land the plane. Shakiest landing ever, even Albie Sach's didn't help! Called my cousin's wife and the usual suspects.
1:40pm: Cab driver kept me waiting! Finally arrived. I gave him enough motivation to apologize!
2:00pm: Slept off on the ride from the airport but sleep escaped me between the climb up the stairs and entering the house. Didn't notice the pink bedspreads or my collection of teddy bears.
Later that night, when I finally tumbled into bed I mused at how I had just entered Lagos as if it was nearby Wuse market, all because of the lure of a promo ticket!