It was a normal evening that day, many years ago, on my way to church, when this friend approached me. It must have been a Wednesday as there was a major concert that Friday night. I’m guessing it was “Dunamis” of the Rhema Chapel Campus Fellowship, Ilorin and he needed a tenor background vocal for his performance.
As he asked for my availability, specifically because of his rehearsal the next day, I looked at my schedule, and it was almost impossible to be available. He looked liked he was really at his end and I felt some compassion for him. In that split second, I started to move things around in my schedule to create space. I decided to cancel attendance for my church rehearsal, postpone an engagement with another friend, and plan to sacrifice some sleep and personal time. To be honest, it wasn’t convenient but I didn’t want to turn a brother down.
Not willing to bother him with the details of my schedule and the changes I just made, or act like I was his savior, I simple looked at him and said: “Yes, I’ll be available.”
Then with a smile, he said “Thank you, I know you, you’re always available”
In that moment, the Yoruba-Nigerian man in me got offended. Orí mi ta’ná
“E gbami. It’s me that is always available?”
“Oh, I’m the jobless one àbí”, I muttered silently.
“Ehn ehn, let me see if I will be available again”, I said to myself, as he walked away, smiling.
The truth is, he may not have meant it that way, but he sure sounded that way. I felt hurt. I felt taken for granted, especially because I wasn’t actually available, and I just wanted to help.
And I’ve seen this happen a lot of times.
Many times in my life, I’ve moved mountains to make things happen for people at personal inconvenience, only for them to disregard the effort, and regard me as cheap or ‘always available’. To make matters worse, many of them won’t go half that length for me, as I would come to find out later.
And I can only imagine I’ve been guilty of this too.
That experience has taught me to appreciate people’s efforts, even when I don’t know what it may have cost them. If I need help, and you offer it, then that’s a big deal no matter how little or easy it seems.
Like when friends like Waju, Tope, amongst others, would run around, in my absence, to help make an event happen, or when I’ll ‘dump’ some responsibilities on Tomi, I’ve learnt to appreciate those moments and mention it to them.
That it looks easy for people does not mean it didn’t cost them. And in romantic relationships, it’s very easy to take the seemingly normal and expected things our partners do for granted, like it comes easy. It’s important to be grateful and to mention it to them, even as often as we can.
Eventually, later that Wednesday evening, I was invited to perform the opening act for the same concert. On a normal day, I may have declined my invitation in other to honor my commitment with this one. But this time around, I was too pissed to extend such inconvenience to him.
I am the ImisiOluwa.
Love you Plenty