AIRPLANE MODE



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In the heat of the Lagos traffic, I sat uncomfortably, wedged at the end of a rickety, multi-coloured ‘yellow’ bus on my way home from a somewhat fruitful journey. The sun was shining brightly through the window beside me and I had to retreat, albeit more uncomfortably, into the shade of the bus. In this highly inconveniencing state, I could not possibly continue reading the book which had been my companion on my way going. Earlier, in the morning, I devoured the contents of the book with vigor and was determined to continue on my way back but alas, my current predicament made it highly unlikely.

I had made attempts to read but my attempts had been greeted with sarcastic pleas for me to “adjust”. There was a position I could manage but it required me placing my elbow on the bosom of the heavily fleshy lady beside me. My actions could have been perceived as an act of perversion and I might have gotten a tongue-lashing from her. I had earlier made the mistake of trying it and the stare she glared at me, coupled with the harsh words she dished out at the bus conductor earlier when he delayed giving her her change, convinced me that particular train of action could be misconstrued and lead down a path of ridicule and I held my peace. I made attempts to watch the passing scenery outside the bus and after long periods of gazing at other rickety buses, the madness on the bus-stops of Lagos and the blazing sun staring me in the face, I felt sleepy and dozed off. I was awakened by a hard shove and harsh words. Apparently in my fitful doze, I managed to rest my head by the bosom of the woman beside me and she did not take it lightly.

“Keep your head on one side and not on my breast, yeye man”.

I was embarrassed. I knew I was a sleeper on these kind of trips but never before, in my unconscious state, had my head betrayed me and gone to rest on another person other than the place where I kept it, usually on the side of the bus or held straight up. I received a most annoying glare from the lady again. I started thinking of ways to stay awake. I did math calculations in my head and thought up rhymes but all to no avail. I caught myself dozing again.

It was at this moment I remembered my phone was in my pocket. It was filled with lots of songs and amongst them, a collection of Terry G songs. That should do the trick. As a rule, I restricted my listening to music on the bus to very rare occasions because I always wanted to listen to when my bus-stop was called and also, I’m an avid fan of information garnering or, listen to gossip, as you might call it. But desperate times called for desperate measures so I managed to ease my two of my fingers into the pocket of my trousers, being careful not to upset the big-bosomed lady. Out came my phone, out came my earpiece. I checked the battery level and it was at 85%. It would serve. I was slightly concerned with how much the battery would run down to, though. I’m a sucker for listening to music while I’m walking, especially on safe, lonely roads; ears plugged and oblivious to the world. The road to my house from my bus-stop was a lengthy one and it was usually lonely so for over 45 minutes, I would walk, sing along and dance while listening to music. I plugged in my earpiece and scrolled through my playlist till I found my Terry G collection. By the time I had listened to Free Madness, Manologede, Akpako and Throway, all hints of sleep had fled from my eyes and I was nodding furiously to the rhythm and beat of the song. It was like I had been injected with a copious dose of caffeine and my eyes were awake. The bus ride didn’t seem so boring again and before long, I was within my suburbs and close to my bus-stop. I immediately unplugged my earpiece from my ears and alerted the bus conductor that I had to alight at a certain bus-stop.

I jumped down from the bus at my bus-stop and decided to check my phone’s battery level. It was at 38%!!! I have burned through my battery and it was going to go off anytime soon. I couldn’t walk that long way home without my music. I had never tried it before. I thought of ways to boost my battery. I turned off all apps but it didn’t feel like it was going to do anything. Then, I remembered airplane mode. I had read about it one time. It supposedly shuts off all applications and services from your phone that could interfere with an airplane’s system when you board a flight. That includes wifi, Bluetooth and a bunch of other services. I wasn’t interested in the details at that moment. The only one I was interested in was that it also saved battery power expenditure. I quickly held the power button on the side of my phone which brought out the menu to activate it and immediately tapped on ‘Turn on airplane mode’. Now, before I continue, I would like to enlighten you about my phone for a bit. When I bought this phone, it wasn’t a brand new phone but rather a fairly used one sold to me by a very shady character who said he obtained it through fictious means which I’m not really inclined to delve into right now. The phone looked very suspicious although he informed me it was a one-in-town phone. I had seen people who had gotten brand new models of the phone and mine looked slightly different from theirs. I had always assumed this was because my phone wasn’t actually an original but a test failure by the company which made these phones and somehow, it escaped being destroyed and found its way to the market. Anyway, back to the story, I turned on the airplane mode and my phone began to vibrate vigorously. Is it supposed to do that? I wondered to myself. At this point, I was walking down the road to my house but the vibrations were becoming more vigorous. I was forced to stop. Vibrations drained battery power not save it. I made an attempt to turn off the phone and I received such a terrible electric shock that I was forced to drop my phone on the ground.

At this point, I started to panic; things looked out of hand, literally. My phone was bouncing furiously on the ground and all of a sudden, I heard the shrill call of a kind of siren emitting from my phone. Too much Hollywood movies had convinced me that there was about to be some kind of explosion and I quickly ran for cover. It was well that I ran because three seconds after that there was a loud boom and an explosion of bright light. I was disoriented by the sudden bright light and lay immobile on the ground. When I came to, I was shocked by the sight which greeted my eyes. Sitting in front of me was not a bird, not Superman but a shiny white airplane: a mini-plane, an Antonov 2, to be precise. It looked like something Orville and Wilbur Wright might have ridden in.

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