A Pedestrian Story

Sidewalk Blues

My legs begin to tire out from standing. Sooner or later, something in this Lagos gets to you and reduces your tolerance for discomfort. Danfos keep speeding past me; none going towards my destination. While I stand here, a danfo speeds through a pothole, raises muddy water the same way a fake preacher raises his voice to force out "Praise Master Jesus!!!" …and splash!

I look at my left side. "Some people can’t have water splashed on them. This may be a blessing somehow. At least this would make me take a shower when I get home. My case isn’t the worst." These words of encouragement usher my eyes, thus my attention, away from the mishap. Onto something which served to confirm my last pep sentence.

To my right, I see a Mercedes Benz SUV parked; both indicators remain blinking. This brings me to re-thinking "My case is not the worst." The driver is pushing the car in reverse, and in the opposite direction of traffic. He is being helped by two strangers. The car rolls past me with a plea for my help. If the look on my face was a sentence, it would read "Ta ni Mercedes Benz?" With a step, and another, and a step, and another, and a heave… and a shove, and a step, and another these three rolled this heavy SUV down the road; barely. Soon, they came to the T-junction where the muddy water of praises blessed my left side. There, the driver left the two strangers and went in search of something.

Still waiting for a danfo going my way. I check Facebook. I check WhatsApp. I check Instagram. I check Medium. I was about to check work mail then I stopped myself with "It’s a Saturday, son. Saturday. Rest." I checked the last source of joy I had, the Benz SUV. It had caused a mild traffic jam lined with cars which wanted to turn right.

In Lagos, the one guaranteed tenant of every traffic jam is Impatience. With it comes humans yelling, car horns blaring, insults flaring. And this was no different. The impatient traffic jam summons the driver back to his luxury road blocker. A conversation ensues between the driver and his ad-hoc helpers.

Person 1: Points to the queue behind.
Person 2: Points to his wrist and his garbage trolley.
Person 1: Arms akimbo.
Driver: Brings finger with his key rings hanging off it to his lips. His brows furrows.
Person 2: Walks to the back of the car and gestures forward repeatedly.
Driver: Raises his head in eureka while gesturing towards the right.

“In the same direction you’re causing a hold-up, you want to cause go-slow?” Methinks.

Person 1: Nods in agreement with the driver and walks to the back of the car.
Driver: Goes to stand outside the driver’s seat, and holds the steering.

While the ad-hoc helpers push, the driver steers the car towards the right. In Lagos, the roads are not smooth. This was no different. At this T-junction, into the right’s street, there is a small lump one must get over. As the two strangers push with all their might, trying to push the car over, they tire out before they could tip the car over this little mound. The car begins to roll back… and roll back. The helpers frantically attempt to wedge the car. Horns blared even louder. The driver, in a flash of quick-thinking, hops into the driver’s seat and slams the brakes.

Calm.

The ad-hoc helpers notice the car stopped rolling back and try to push this car forward again. Best to get this thing out of the way and continue with the day. Despite their heave, and a shove; and a HEAVE and a SHOVE, the car refuses to budge. Person 1 walks to the driver’s window and sees the driver’s foot firmly on the brakes. His hands erupt in anger. He gestures the driver out of the car, and points into the street on the right. He then points to the ground while giving the driver a long stern look, and begins to walk to the back of the car.

Halfway down, he stops at the sound of a rev. Must have thought “You’re kidding me right about now.”

The second rev is a bit louder than the first. The third, a bit louder than the second, comes with a bit of tyre screeching. Before Person 1 can turn back, the Driver and his Mercedes Benz SUV sped off into the street.

I laugh heartily. A danfo going towards my destination pulls over. With new strength in my legs, I hop in. “My case is not the worst.”