Tuckshop. Ah! Tuckshop. The best thing that happened to Tricol Students. In the midst of the chaos of the daily routine, There was one reprieve we found in tuckshop. You may not understand. Why would we value a snack by 12:15 when we had breakfast, lunch, dinner and night snacks? Simple. We were kids, and Tuckshop was the only link to the outside world. A world free of fire-breathing cooks, a world devoid of sadistic dining hall prefects who made sure you downed breakfast in ten minutes, a world free of sugarless pap and mouth-slapping Garri. A world where there are no sour oranges, fermented Zobos and mushy spaghetti.
Tuckshop was a point of stability in an otherwise chaotic world. The Gala and coke you took yesterday would taste the same as the one of today. Money was banned, snacks were banned, cell phones were banned, everything was banned. In fact, our housemaster once said “everything is banned including what is not expressly banned”. Anything not allowed is banned. Expressio unis est exclusio ulterius! And because tuckshop was actually allowed, it quickly became a valuable medium of exchange. Notes were copied in exchange for tuckshop. Chores were done in exchange for tuckshop. Depending on the nature of the need, the amount of tuckshop dramatically increased.
For example, Bobby Una once agreed to do my laundry for two weeks’ tuckshop (unfortunately, he fell backwards on the lawn and cut his head on an exposed metal pipe…it was bloody…really bloody). What again? Yeah, homework for tuckshop. Do my math, I’ll pay you in tuckshop. Copy my English, you pay me in tuckshop!
The love of money is the root of all evil. And so was the love of tuckshop. Tuckshop could make the best of friends fight. Tuckshop could make people go mad. I remember JSS2 students back then began smooching for tuckshop! Seriously! Eighth-graders! At evening time, their doorways would be crowded with potential buyers, sampling their prizes. As a result you’d see twelve year-olds with amazingly formed b**bs. (what?! It was amazing!)
Tuckshop was also a very effective way of punishment. And ultimately bullying. The American equivalent of “gimme yo’ lunch money!!!”. The strong took from the weak. The weak suffered for it. I was the weak.
You’d hear all manner of things as you walked down the classroom corridors. “I bet you two weeks tuckshop that…”. “If you lie on my bed, your Saturday tuckshop” and all manner of things. The Kings of Tuckshop were Muyiwa Agboola and Niran Atobatele. Once in SS1 they published a list of indictable offences and their punishment.
If you touch my locker, Two weeks tuckshop
If you lie on my bed, Two weeks tuckshop
If you step on my shoes, two weeks tuckshop
If you take my tuckshop when I’m not around, Two weeks tuckshop
How could they enforce such rules? One, they were big and strong. Number two, they could always intercept the tuckshop basket on its way from the store. And the girls always feared them.
I fell victim too. Once, oghenero gave me a pack of lucozade to hold for him. I don’t need to tell you I was honoured to hold such a forbidden item. Then who was it? I think it was Ladi. Yeah. Most probably Ladi. Yeah, he came and said some Jazz sha…y’all know he’s a smooth talker, right? Well he talked me into sharing the pack with him. Kinda like, Oggy said it was okay. Turns out the information was…inaccurate to say the least. Oggy ran amok when he discovered that his prize had vanished. I lost my two weeks’ tuckshop to that!!!
Now, after all these years, I ask myself- was it really worth it? I mean- shouldn’t I have stood up to them, y’know, fight for my right? But you see, I learnt my lesson. Number one- when someone keeps something in your care, hold it until you hear from that person. No matter what anyone comes to tell you, always refer to your source. I remember when a lion chowed somebody up, because he listened to someone else. (seriously, it happened in the bible to some prophet. Check 1 Kings 13:9-28).
Secondly, they’d have creamed me if I tried to fight anyway.
Sure, all the memories keep flooding back. Let me tell you something. If anybody wanted to control the minds of students (and turn them into mindless zombies), it’d have to be through tuckshop. All you had to do was spike the drinks or something. There’s no way it wouldn’t work!!!!