The Problem Multiplier

A while back, I wrote about the owls that died in our roof and I promised to write about the fact that situations deteriorate when repair is delayed.

Someone in my life once posted on social media, that her doctor told her that things go wrong when decisions are not taken on time. He was speaking from a medical perspective. If a woman was experiencing a difficult labor, delaying the decision to perform an emergency cesarean section could increase the likelihood that the father of the child would end up burying one or more people. Alternatively, the decision to forgo medical care for a young child with breast cancer in favor of daily visits to an old man in the bush with herbal concoctions that no one understands could mean that when that child finally shows up at the hospital, it is for pain management as opposed to managing the illness and finding a cure. I actually saw this happen in my first year back in Lagos.

Predictably, this does not only happen in hospital settings. Think about your car, you start hearing a funny sound and you do nothing. Then the ‘check engine’ light comes on and you make a note to call your mechanic, but somehow you don’t do it. Then you notice that when you turn on the air conditioning, the car starts to shudder but you look in your calendar and there is no time to do anything about it, so you do nothing. And then one day, you’re driving on Third Mainland Bridge at 5am, so that you can beat rush hour traffic and make it to work in time to steal a nap before 8am, and your car slowly comes to a stop and the least of your worries is Lagos’ unique brand of rush hour traffic.

So back to the owls. After we’d lived in our house for a while and the eaves were breaking. The first owl gained access to the roof through the broken eave right in front of my window. I remember sitting down for hours staring at her and marveling at how cute she was. On one of those staring sessions, I noticed she had a new friend, and they seemed to have built a nest. I thought nothing of it. I thought nothing of it until I woke up to pee one day and heard an unexpected sound. This sound was loud and unpleasant and I went to the window to investigate. Imagine my surprise when I looked out of the window to see that my cute ‘harmless’ friend, the pioneer owl, had organized a whole choir rehearsal with at least twelve owls of varying sizes perched all over the place trying to sing/ harmonize. The next couple of nights were no different. And then, I noticed a new nuance to the sound: it seemed like perpetual knocking. What could it be? Again, I went to the window. It appears one of the owls had caught sight of her (or his) own reflection in the window and was attacking it viciously. This is when I knew that something had to happen.

But how much easier will my life have been if, the first day I saw the pioneer owl, I treated her as she was: a pest? She was cute, but still a pest. And there is a way that pests should be treated. Now, about that rat I saw the other day…

Any thoughts?

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