Two nights ago, I left work late and got to the spaghetti joint very late. While I still met the woman, her response was negative when I asked if spaghetti was still available, but there’s still grilled turkey. I was a little disappointed even if I have no right to be, I was late and it’s okay for the spaghetti to finish, just that I was really hungry that night and it’s sometimes still available at that time.
As I made to leave, the woman, sensing my distraught, called me back and asked if I don’t mind having the little left in the flat pot. I couldn’t say no so I don’t appear rude, and she scraped the content into a disposable plate for me for free.
While she served it, she informed me that next time I should just put a call through to her beforehand to help keep a pack or two if and when I know I’ll be late. I politely informed her that I do not have her number, I don’t even know her name since mommy suffices for elderly women in this part of the world. She gave me her contact information and I saved it.
She’s fond of asking about my day and sales, she even goes a step further to advertise my business to her own customers, but whether we both knew it at the time or not, we’ve unlocked another level in our relationship with that little gesture.
I live and work by a simple code, especially when it comes to human relationships, to make strangers/clients my friend, and from friendship make them family. Family to me is not a function of blood relations but those I can boldly call my own and be rest assured that I am theirs through thick and thin. That is why I never treat a transaction or patronage or meeting or conversation with anyone as a one-off. The goal is to take the relationship from strangers to family.
This simple code is why I don’t have many vendors for a particular product or service, although I’m disappointed sometimes by these vendors, that’s still part of business and we’re humans. I take every vendor as an extension of myself and my friend until they act otherwise, I’ll do my best to see them and their business grow, I’ll even take their competition as my competition. In my spaghetti woman’s case, I would have treated anyone else selling spaghetti in our estate as a rival with a death signpost at their stall, a no go area, that’s how loyal I can be.
This didn’t come by chance, however. While we were growing up, my mother, through her actions and decisions, instilled and cultivated loyalty in us. I remember that I and all my younger siblings attended the same nursery and primary school from our first class to the last, my elder sister attended another school from start to finish, I guess my mom had not met our proprietor then.
She’s fond of saying that, “oju kan ti’eyan ba to sí lo ma’n ho,” meaning that it is only when you focus your urine on one spot that it’ll foam, the ones you spread everywhere will not. The implication of this is that there’s more result and impact when you focus on one, more like putting your eggs in one basket and watching it grow. This translates to all part of life including work, faith, romance, relationships, everything.
I also remember now that my mom has been attending our family church for over twenty years now. Funny right? She stood with the ministry and committed her family to the grace and leadership of the church for over two decades. I grew up in the church and I’ve seen it through many people, mountains, and valleys as well, my pastor is no longer a pastor to me but more than a father. I practically grew in his hands, his discipline and tutelage have a great deal to do with how I turn out now, that’s why my exodus was a bit of a struggle for both of us. My mother has also stayed with only one husband despite his excesses, she’s stayed at a business for longer than I can remember. That and many other ways was how she’s successfully taught me the power of staying.
Loyalty to me is a great deal. It is why I stayed with a boss for six years, the one before was three years even with two years unpaid salary. It is why I can’t use two vendors for the same product or service. It is why I continue to patronize and publicize the same vendor. It is why I invest in people’s growth, especially those in my circle.
There was a time I got a juicy employment offer, very attractive pay and working conditions, but it’ll require me to work between two establishments, I asked for my mother’s opinion on it and her response was predictable. She said, “Aja o ki n sh’ojule meji,” meaning that a dog can not guard two houses, no matter how ferocious it may be. That was the cue I need to either stay or jump ship, and I stayed. The devil one knows is better than an angel one is yet to know they say, I’ve been with this person and my abrupt leaving will affect their business, I don’t want that for myself and won’t do so to someone.
The spaghetti wasn’t much, but the gesture is a testament to me that my continuous patronage and conversation with the woman, frequent sightings and dialogues at her joint has gotten me recognition. I’m no longer a random customer but a loyal patron, and perhaps a son because only a mother’s instinct will look out for a hungry child like that. I guess my focused urine at the Spaghetti joint is now foaming well.
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