“The year 2012 was a particularly ‘fearful year’ for me. It was a year in which I had several close shaves. I will give just two accounts … I had left home that Saturday morning to procure some packs of bottled water for my Retail Outlet. I had to do some market runs because the supplier had failed to complete an order during the week ” . Please enjoy this story from the archives of Funmi Adebayo
“How do you manage to paint such accurate pictures and bring those scenarios to life so perfectly in your write ups?” Is a popular question.
And each time I’m asked, I smile knowingly, and just look on in silence. But care for a true answer? I’ll tell you.
Sometimes, it happens by pure inspiration. When one is a writer, she sees things in totally different ways and interacts with life from an entirely different perspective. She sees beyond ordinary naked eyes and queries situations for more unlikely answers. Moreover, she analyzes and even combines plots and characters in her head.
For her, every moment in life is a potential story, and every one she associates with a potential character. Not consciously though. LOL.
Apart from day to day interactions with people, I in particular also get my leads from other works of literature – especially the Bible; and oftentimes from movies. I tend to read, study and watch with a third eye… and quite unconsciously, I read between the lines, and see beyond what is played out or written.
However, the strongest of all factors which make me believable and bring my write ups and stories alive to the point where readers can actually feel, see and relate to what I’m recounting, is experience: you don’t need much effort to describe what you have seen, handled or been through.
For instance, I can describe pain because I’ve felt pain.
I can describe how it feels to slip into unconsciousness because I’ve had few surgeries and the anaesthesia effect gives me an idea of what it means to be alive this moment and figuratively dead few seconds later. I could even describe what it must feel like to cross the thick (or thin) line between life and death from those experiences.
Moreover, I can describe betrayal because I’ve been betrayed.
And then I can describe fear… because I’ve felt bone chilling fear!
I can describe what it means to be scared to death in spite of what you know; and maybe even right after giving a lecture, or after preaching a message on ‘How to Deal with Fear’!
I’ve been there!
So, I can relate to some human emotions and empathize because I can actually feel every pain involved. I’ve been there!
The year 2012 was a particularly ‘fearful year’ for me. It was a year in which I had several close encounters. I will give just two accounts.
However, before I go on , I need to state that I am not fearful anymore. With the help of God, I now have a clear understanding of the purpose behind the ‘fears’ I felt: Probably God only allowed me to feel real cold fear so that I can describe fear accurately
Beyond that, with His help and by His grace, I have now so dealt with fear that I now tend towards being daring as regards some of the things I used to be so scared of. I can testify that I have conquered my fears. I do not live in fear anymore.
The Day Business Became a Horror Movie
That said, here is my first account:
I had left home that Saturday morning to procure some packs of bottled water for Shopaholyks, my Retail Outlet. I had to do some market runs to achieve that because we were completely out of stock: our supplier had failed to complete an order during the week. (One of the major challenges retailers live with).
So I had left home very early so as to catch up with demands before start of business. I bought about fifteen packs of bottled water and conveyed them to the store.
It was a very busy morning, and the staff on duty had a rather though time attending to the influx of customers. When they had all finally left however, I took over her seat to update the inventory on our Retail System with the new supply while Fatima*( the duty staff) took a stroll out.
(Again, please notice how I juggled and switched roles: procurement personnel or Market woman (better put), driver and now a Systems Administrator…lol. One of the realities of business is the fact that you are compelled to be multi-talented when building something great from scratch, and on a lean budget too.)
Then in line with the golden rule that says, ‘never say NO to a customer; rather offer an alternative product, (and in our case even when the options don’t match or make much sense … Lol) I offered another brand of water. @funmie_adebayoTweet
Suddenly, I was alone, and the erstwhile busy environment suddenly became deserted. We did not have any security man at that time because there was no need for one. Such a commendable cost saving initiative!
Then came these two ‘customers’ on an okada.
“Eva Water”, one of them had called out gutterally.
However, I was too engrossed in the inventory update to notice his rudeness, and I promptly informed him that we did not have that particular brand in supply because our supplier had failed to complete an order.
Then in line with the golden rule that says, ‘never say NO to a customer; rather offer an alternative product, (and for us in particular, even when the options don’t match, or make much sense … Lol) I offered another brand of water. Thankfully, my offer matched the initial request this time.
“So sorry about that sir, but we do have Cascade Water” I offered.
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“That will do” he roared as he withdrew to his okada as though to pick some money.
I beckoned at the little girl who had accompanied me to the market to help bring a pack of Cascade Water from the stack, while I continued with the system update.
Then suddenly out of the blue, the two men stepped inside the store and bolted the glass door behind them.
Of course, this got the girl and me alarmed: I abandoned the system to casually make for the door in a single stride, but was rudely interrupted half way by the sight of a small metal pistol pointing at me.
You don’t need to take a second guess. It was a robbery attack. We were robbed, and the guys made away with some money, a laptop, my blackberry phone, my PDA, wedding rings and other items.
It was a very smooth operation, and in less than ten minutes, they were done and gone locking us in.
Afterwards, some people kept querying as to whether the gun was real, and if it was indeed loaded.
It was a real metal pistol for sure, but who would be foolish enough to doubt its genuineness under such circumstances? Definitely not me… Lol…
I testified to God’s goodness and protection; I was indeed grateful that we escaped that incident unhurt.
Besides, the business did not feel any loss or financial impact of the robbery, candidly. As a matter of fact, God replenished us outrageously by raising men to give much more than what was stolen.
Therefore, save for the loss of some data on my laptop and PDA, there was actually much profit and no loss at all… So much profit that one could even wish to be robbed, if only to generate such an influx of kind gestures and reactions, especially from my friends, mum, and siblings. God is faithful indeed, and people can be extremely kind!
One of the realities of business is the fact that you are compelled to be multi-talented when building something great from scratch, and on a lean budget.. @funmie_adebayoTweet
However, the data loss was painful. It happened majorly because as at that time, at barely five months old in business, I hadn’t mastered the unexpected and strange demands of multitasking being a business owner had suddenly plunged me into.
Having worked in organized environments, where virtually everything worked all my work-life, I wasn’t adequately prepared for the ups-and-downs of running my own business. I A 00was still too disorganized, sort of, (trying to catch up with the dizzying pace of things) to engage in regular routines like data back up.
I hadn’t settled down to any sane mode of operation; I was still merely fire-fighting, and trying hard to locate sanity in the midst of the madness.Thank God my iPad wasn’t with me on that occasion, as I would have lost too much data to have operations restored almost immediately.
However, lesson learned: things like that shouldn’t happen to an IT Personnel like me. I subscribed to a back solution powered by cloud technology with automatic alacrity!
Furthermore, we hired a security guard immediately!
The aftermath …
The ugly aftereffect of the occurrence was the fear it birthed in me. I got so fretful that every customer, no matter how groomed, seemed like a robber to me. Especially when they requested for water.
Especially, ‘Eva Water’!
On one occasion, a customer had directed the request for Eva Water at me while the staff on duty had looked on.
“We don’t have Eva Water!” I had blurted out without thinking, while my staff’s jaw had succumbed to the pull of gravity. She was bewildered.
The guy had given me a quizzical look and said, “aren’t those bottles of Eva Water behind you?” Pointing at the transparent chiller standing right behind me.
I gave no response, and just walked away feeling very foolish. while my staff moved in to arrested the situation. But boy, it was that bad!
I practically abandoned my outlet for months. Working from there became a torture to my psyche, and my staffs just couldn’t understand how I, who preached divine protection so well lived with so much fear. I was thankful that none of them had witnessed the robbery incidence, else we could have had to suspend operation for few a while.
Nevertheless, the staffs weren’t totally exempt from their share of robbery attempts and scam, though not in the magnitude of the open confrontation I had experienced.
In any case, some were duped, swindled, scammed, 419ed in very quick succession. Really, it was as if all hell broke lose considering the number of desperate attempts we encountered in 2012. Hence, I had an almost constant physical and spiritual battle with fear that year.
The Final Straw:
I kept asking God why, but never got any answers until some months later, when I had this final encounter for the year, which made me practically jump out of my skin. It happened in December.
Hmmm, like people say, my eyes have seen stuffs in this Lagos…
I’d better break the story into two lest I bore you. Please watch out for ‘Describing Fear (2): The Day I Jumped Out of my Skin’ .
Do enjoy the rest of your week and stay blessed!
Written by Funmi Adebayo in 2013. View original article on Funmi Adebayo’s Blog
*Not real name