Irritation: Message from the Morning Man by Kojo Yankson


Irritation: Message from the Morning Man
by Kojo Yankson

10th September 2015

Today, I will tell you seven stories. See if you can spot what they have in common.

Ben McCaffrey was very irritated. His wife had yelled at him that morning for not paying enough attention to their son. He made the cardinal mistake of talking back to her, and for his punishment, he was now forced to accompany his boy on the first day of kindergarten. This was decidedly inconvenient for him, as it meant he was he was going to miss an important board meeting with his company’s directors at 8:30am.

Hector Ramirez was very irritated. It was the wrong day to draw the short straw for the donut run. Yes, the donut shop was only a block away, but their office was on the 20th floor, and so it took a while to make the journey – time he could ill afford that day, because his quarterly report was due at 8:30am that morning. The way things were going, he was likely to miss the deadline.

Mia Ginelli was very irritated. She had forgotten to change the batteries in her alarm clock, and had woken up late on the one day she couldn’t afford to be tardy. As she rushed about the house frantically getting dressed, she forced herself to face the possibility that she might miss her 8:30am job interview slot.

Peter Okocha was very irritated. He watched in disbelief as, just tthirty feet ahead of him, his bus pulled away from the bus stop without him on board. How could this happen? The bus that was always late was five minutes early today of all days. What rotten luck. Now, how was he going to make time to swing by his stockbroker’s office for a 8:30am appointment before going to work?

Dennis Morgan was very irritated. He had walked eight blocks to the subway station before he noticed the egg stain in his shirt. There was no way he was going to take his Manager of the Year photo with egg on his shirt, so he had to walk back home and change -although that meant he would probably have to call the photographer and push back the 8:30am appointment.

Michelle White was very irritated. Her car wouldn’t start. That meant her 8:30am therapy session wouldn’t happen.

Carl Markham was very irritated. His new shoes were causing him blisters, so he had to stop and buy some plaster. the long queue at the chemists meant he was going to be late to relieve the other security guard at 8:30am.

So I’m sure you’ve spotted these are all stories of irritated people who are about to miss their 8:30am deadlines and appointments. What I haven’t told you is that all of these 8:30am appointments were in the North Tower of the World Trade Centre on the 11th of September 2001. At exactly 8:45 am that morning, the first plane hit.

Tomorrow will be the 11th of September 2015. 9/11, as the Americans call it. The 14th anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack against the western world. Two thousand, nine hundred and seventy-seven innocent people died that day, when Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked and crashed two passenger aircraft into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York. Every year, we remember and celebrate the lives of those who died that day, but we don’t always think of those who survived – those who narrowly escaped death, thanks to some minor irritation or the other that prevented them from being in the towers at the moment disaster struck.

My friends, when bad things happen, we often imagine ourselves to be facing the end of the world, but we do not realise just how much worse things could be. We don’t always see beyond the misfortunes of our daily irritations, but from today, I want us to start considering the major calamities we might be avoiding thanks to the minor inconveniences we may be enduring. 

So next time you’re stuck in traffic, or the elevator doors close before you get in, or you have to turn back and answer the telephone, or the kids are wasting time getting dressed, or you can’t find the car keys, or every traffic light is catching you on the red, don’t shake your fist in rage at life’s irritations. Just remember that you’re exactly where God wants you to be: safe from much worse.

My name is Kojo Yankson, and I thank God for minor irritations – they’re for my own good.