I rode in Frank’s cab today. Time was going to be tight to make my train. And Frank’s car just happened to be there. Serendipity is a beautiful thing. As was our chat.
When he learned I go by my initials, he laughed while telling me that if he followed suit I should call him, UFO.
Uzoka Frank Okey.
Uzoka. It’s my last name. Sounds Japanese, but it’s from Africa.
Where is that? I asked.
I’m from Nigeria, he happily stated.
Uzoka (pronounced oh z’ahh kuh).
Okey (pronounced ‘okay’).
And people are never saying ‘okey’, the right way. But this name is actually okechukwu (okay chew koo), chuku meaning God.
We’re a very Christian country, Nigeria. Lots of names like this.
Okechukwu, God’s creation.
Ikechukwu (ee’kay chew koo) God’s power.
Obichukwu (obee chew koo), God’s heart as in heart warming.
One of my favorite questions to ask just about anybody is, “What should I know about _____________, if I don’t know anything about it.”
I asked UFO what I should know about Nigeria.
It’s a place with a large population. Used to be ruled by the British. A nice warm pleasant country that mismanages its resources. Oil is quite an important one of these resources. And there’s corruption.
But there’s good food. And good weather. People are friendly and can be very boisterous. Often ingenious, always looking for ways to make things better.
Frank mentioned the civil war in the late 60s between Christians and Muslims. And during that time the Christians (the minority group) built a submarine, with only basic tools, which helped to bring peace to the country.
He was proud about his people – people who take pride in making something special happen, with limited resources, in order to make things better.
There was much more to chat about with UFO, but our time was up. Amazing how much ground you can cover with someone in 10 minutes. We both went on our way with smiles on our faces after a few quality moments of sharing stories.
And it’s also amazing how easy it can be for a couple of strangers to share a warm, positive interaction that can make a world full of unidentified foreign objects – or others – feel just a bit smaller.
What was your last warm, positive interaction with a complete stranger? What did you share? What did you learn? How did you feel when you walked away?
Can’t remember? No worries. I bet you’ll have another chance for one of these conversations soon 😉