Friday, September 15, 2006

A Business Executive's Guide to Elementary Physics

Imagine this scenario:

Dateline: The Present
Location: Lagos Business District - Victoria Island

You are late. You are a young, (upwardly mobile) business executive (all suited-andtied-up) You are on your way to work. You are on an okada (commercial motorcycle). You are wet. Because it is raining. Actually you are holding an umbrella above your head, but - you know how these things happen - it is doing very little protective work. The rain seems to be falling not only vertically, but also horizontally, whipping your face and cuddling into your shoes and all that.

Let's for now ignore the cars and SUVs that are spraying water at you like the bullets of many gunmen. You are late. You are wet, but you don't care. All you want to do is get to the office ASAP. Let's not forget about the ineffective umbrella you are holding. It is the "crux of this story". It is splayed above you, in all of its blue-and-red dripping glory. You are holding on to it with both hands, as though your life depended on it, for it tugs at you with an inhuman, almost evil determination. Something to do with physics, y'know, velocity, force, momentum, inertia, blah blah blah. For every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction. For every drenched idiot idiotic enough to subject an umbrella to a vicious grip upon a speeding bike in blinding rain, there is a reactive, skyward tug by the spirits domiciled beneath the umbrella tent.

Which is what this story is all about. Those spirits, that is.

Ideally, theoretically, in Physics, action and reaction should balance each other out, cancel each other, nullify each other, leaving an equilibrium in their wake. But that is in theory. This is the real world. You suddenly realise that your visual-range has been altered. Before, you could only see the back view of the okada rider, but now, strangely, what you see is an aerial view of him, the crown of his head (as opposed to the rear). And you can see plenty of stuff you were never able to see before. You can see the sliding-glass hatches on the roofs of most cars. Strange. A whole new world, a view of Lagos traffic that you can swear you have never seen before. To be candid, it's quite beautiful, but...

Watch out for Part II

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