The bible says that a soft answer turns away wrath. I learned this the hard way as I explained in an earlier post. Nigerians are often accused of being loud, brash, and aggressive. That may be partly due to the fact that there is no protection for the gentle under the law, as the system favors the brutish. When you walk into a room and mumble apologetically, the average service provider will ignore you. Try raising your voice pompously, or sounding angry and they scurry like rats to do your bidding.
This does not mean that you should become a sour tempered or foul-mouthed person. I remember my dad told me of a man who used to slap his drivers for whatever offence they commited. Can you imagine a grown man being slapped by his employer? It doesn’t sound right.
So this young lady comes in with a cut on her scalp. I ask her how she got it and she claims it was a domestic accident. She tells me to just clean it and give her pain medication. I examine it and inform her that is quite deep and will require some stitches.
“Is there anyone who you can call to pay your bills?” I asked.
“My fiance is not at home, and his phone is unreachable”, she replied.
“How did you say it happened? What sort of accident would lead to a cut on the upper part of your head?” I probed.
“It’s not really an accident” she evaded. “Let me go home and get the money for you”
I wondered how she would go home with the injury, but she insisted she lived nearby. Bandaging the cut, I watched her walk away, still fumbling with her phone.
One of the nurses came up and hinted that she might have been a victim of domestic violence. “That lady is so rude”, she hissed. “Before you came, she was ranting that we were incompetent, calling us names. If that is how she talks, no wonder her fiance beat her”
I shook my head sadly “There is never a good reason to be violent. Not to anyone, no matter the provocation. It’s better to walk away and look the fool, than to inflict harm on anybody. What if the person is sickly and close to death? You would be blamed for a death that was inevitable”
“I hear you but, we are yet to get the full story, that I’m sure of”
Shortly after, she returned with a young man who looked younger than her. He began to complain at the top of his voice, that she was sent away without treatment. I explained that I offered to start if she could get someone to promise to pay, but she preferred to leave. The patient confirmed this but, Mr. Fiance would not stop ranting. I concluded that he was compensating for his empty pockets, and ignored him.
It was good he came however, for he eventually told us the full story. This lady had hired a carpenter, to make a bed for her new apartment. He brought it after much delay and it did not fit her specifications. She began to scold him angrily, telling him without mincing words, what she thought of him, and his carpentry. The carpenter raised his hammer, and gave her a blow on the head. Before she could raise an alarm, he ran out, leaving her clutching her bleeding head.
Some of us are so mean to our domestic staff, employees, and to those who are not as fortunate as we are. The danger is that, when their pent up frustration erupts, we may not be protected by our accents, credit cards, or pedigree. You may have the right to expect excellence but, don’t let anyone drag you to their level. Eagles don’t walk like chickens, neither do they have any point to prove. State your point cleearly, firmly, and authoritatively. If anyone is not cooperating, consider letting him go, getting others involved or other actions, but not violence. Even if you are a man, is it honourable to be found fighting with your servant? You have more to lose, so let it go
Back to my patient, said Mr. Fiance ended up not contributing a dime. Rather, he filled our ears with what he would have done to the carpenter if he was present. I believe that empty vessels make the loudest noise. Do you think such a braggart can defend a lady? I think not.
As I always say, you are responsible for your own health. You may not be able to prevent random acts of violence, but you should not provoke it. Learn to listen twice and speak once, to take deep breaths or walk away when angry, to give others the benefit of the doubt, to forgive easily, to speak kindly, to be courteous. My mother taught me this, ‘You cannot expect a hired hand to have the intelligence of a governor. That is why he is at the level he is. Just as you don’t expect a 2 year old to write a formal letter, so you should lower your expectations of certain people’
Love, Dr. N