The one you don’t see coming

On Monday, I tied my hair back to work. That was not the plan. Usually, my hair is freshly done on the first day of the work week and then I progress to tying it back towards Friday. That was the plan – I was supposed to wear it out in a bob on Monday – and I worked towards that plan. But the thing I didn’t think could happen was the thing that made me abandon the plan and tie my hair back.

Okay. The story. On Saturday, I conditioned my hair and put it in a wrap. On Sunday, I kept it in the wrap all day so that it would hold its shape for most of the week. On Sunday evening, I thought about straightening it and putting it back in the wrap, but I decided against it. I thought it’ll be better to straighten it on Monday morning so that it would be fresh and I won’t have to redo any portions in the morning. That seemed logical. So I put the hair back in a wrap, tied a satin scarf, put a bonnet on it as insurance, gathered all the things I would need in the morning and put them in front of the mirror, and went to bed.

In my neighborhood in Lagos, Nigeria we have 24-hour power supply. Outside Nigeria, that will not be something you have to tell anyone. In Nigeria, power outages are a thing. There are no warnings. Your lights go out and that’s the end of the story. It does not count as an emergency. It’s not an ‘oh, no!’ or an ‘oh, my!’, it’s an ‘oh, okay’. There is no need to clutch any pearls. If you have a generator, you go outside, switch it on and continue your life. Otherwise, you enjoy the darkness and the heat. If you have a generator and there is no fuel in it, you join the party in the hot darkness. If your generator has fuel, but the starting mechanism is bad and you don’t have a rope to use as a back up (only the OGs will know about this), you have a VVIP pass to the party. If your battery is faulty or you have not serviced the engine of that generator, baby, you already know you’re in the party.

But that party does not hold in my neighborhood. Or so I thought. We had had electricity for months. The only time the electricity went out was when individual households ran out of units on their meter. This is not a general issue, it’s an individual one. The solution is to this is to put units on your meter. We usually have a backup on our card so that, if we were to run out, we have enough to keep the lights on until we can go to the electricity company and recharge. So I expected that when I turned on the light switch on Monday morning, the lights will come on.

On Monday morning, the lights did not come on. I don’t know why the lights did not come on. The lights should have come on. But they didn’t. But we have a generator, I thought to myself, I’ll go and turn it on. Two problems there: there was no diesel in the generator and the battery was dead. At this point two things came to mind: I should have straightened my hair on Sunday evening and what’s the point of having a generator that does not do the work of generating power? I’ll like to talk a little more about the second thought.

When I boil it down, the reason I tied my hair back is that the generator wasn’t working not that there was no electricity. No, that is not correct. The reason is I did not envisage a situation where the electricity will go out inexplicably and was not prepared for it. Before the advent of 24 hour electricity, we had a diesel supply guy who filled the generator tank every week and left a reserve. We also had a contract with a repair company to service the generator and ensure that everything was working appropriately. That stopped when the electricity supply became irregular and we did not see the need for a backup.

I read a quote once that spoke to the fact that the difference between the thing that may go wrong and the thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when they go wrong, one is quick and simple to fix and the other is almost always impossible to fix. You can guess which is which. You may also have heard that the punch you don’t see coming is the one that takes you out. Well, what in your life cannot possibly go wrong?

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