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17.04.2019 Opinion

Dear Old Folk, You’re Old And We Know; We’re Just Asking For What’s Rightful! (Part 1)

Mustapha Bin Usman

Dear old folk,
Several months ago I encountered a typical old school public transport driver. By typical, I’m referring to the relatively old drivers (and other service providers) who surprisingly feel that their customers cannot request them to do anything. Or their customers are under some obligation to do whatever they command. And the only reason for thinking so is because they’re older than the customer.

Nonsensical! I understand we live in a gerontocratic society where the older one is never wrong under any circumstance. My offense? I happened to be the last passenger and the only seat left was the front seat between the driver and the other passenger. I and the other passenger happened to carry backpacks and it appeared the driver had an issue with that.

First, he told me to give him my backpack to put in the boot because it “will disturb his driving”. I politely refused the request and explained that my backpack contained my laptop and other gadgets for which reason it needed to be kept safely on my lap (how the heck was I even expecting him to understand what backpack, laptop, and tablet meant?).

He acquiesced and gave another command when we set off. This time it was my phone. I was reading from my phone and he claimed it was blocking his view of the side mirrors. I tried expressing my displeasure at his incessant commands and he raised his voice. As usual, the elderly ones at the backseats, without asking what was transpiring, simply jumped in saying “he’s the driver so if he says you shouldn’t do this so be it”. I had to keep my quiet because it appeared no one understood anything. Meanwhile, this driver was literally telling me my rights and freedom ended the moment I sat in the front passenger seat of ‘his’ vehicle (which I paid for).

Some of us are losing our patience over ordeals with relatively older people at work, bus terminals, shops, and in circumstances where someone older is supposed to offer you some product or service (at a charge of course). They mostly appear to misconstrue the thoughts and actions of younger ones. Sometimes it appears they even set traps for young ones to fall in just to confirm their prejudice. When they figure you disagree with them on something they will mostly blurt at you to solicit the support of their older counterparts.

And when you blurt back; Oyiwa! You’re disrespectful. Instead of opening a fair open discussion about the issue at hand they choose the bailout society has given them. It’s clear that someway somehow nature, culture, and religion appears to unfairly favor older folks and we have no qualms with that. What we ask for is just relative equality in terms of the relationship between old and young folk especially in economic matters.

Few years ago I happened to board a bus that was supposed to be air-conditioned. Upon setting off almost everyone realized the air-conditioning wasn’t working. To add salt to injury this bus had no openable windows. People were sweating and all they could do was murmur, puff, and endure the suffocation. Someone farted (what was he or she supposed to do?). If you can’t get in good air, just bring the bad one inside out! But who would speak up? No one.

Meanwhile all the passengers were adults; no student or anyone below 20 years I would guess. I’m sure in that situation the old folks were counting on the revolutionary approach of the youth. Even I would ordinarily speak up under such life threatening circumstances but I decided to experiment and see what would happen. For some reasons the young ones in the bus who would ordinarily speak up were not in the best of their usual selves and so we all had to endure like the old ones do and like they taught us.

With these scenarios I’m not sure we want to continue along that path. Of course, things like laptop, tablet, and the likes may be new to your generation; and I understand. But the thing called customer service is as old as human existence. It’s as simple as understanding that someone (regardless of their age, class, religion, etc.) has paid you to deliver a certain product or service and you’re obliged to do just that. It’s not your job to show anyone how fatherly, motherly, grandfatherly, or grandmotherly you are relative to them. We see the similitude of our fathers, mothers, and grandparents when we see one. We need not be reminded. This isn’t at all as complex as rocket science, quantum physics or nanotechnology.

The next time a young one disagrees with you on something please be patient and understanding. Acknowledge that the young one doesn’t have the benefit of the experience that forms the background of your position, decision thought, etc. It’s highly probable you would have been same in their position. At any rate, society is supposed to develop and get better. How else would that happen if the old don’t give the young the benefit of change? How do we evolve into better versions of fore-generations if they want us to ‘be’ like them? Don’t we want to admit that the younger ones mostly do better than us? Isn’t it a fact that all parents expect their offspring to do more and better than they did? These and other nagging concerns are the reasons I rant.

By: Mustapha Bin Usman
The author is a writer, entrepreneurship expert, business and life coach, entrepreneur, farmer, trainer, and teacher. You may contact him via email: [email protected] or on Mobile/ WhatsApp: +233 246 134 798 or visit his Facebook page:

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