Twas a tiring evening. Traffic gridlock along my usual route home. Decided to give a few passengers a ride since they were enroute my route. I would almost regret it. Almost. At one point during the gridlock, the passengers were almost insulting me for not taking one-way like every other driver on the road. They started complaining about the government. They started complaining about the bad road. They started complaining about life in general. And they eventually complained that I didn’t take one-way because they were in a hurry to get home to meet the bed-time appointment they’ve unconsciously made with their spouse/home by mid nite.
They dialogued in Yoruba thinking that I could not hear them. I smiled as they insulted me for not being sharp enough to follow the route everybody was following. If only they knew that I create my own pathway and don’t follow the general paths. If only they knew that I was not a normal person. If only they knew that I could hear their language. If only they knew who I AM.
And suddenly a petrol tanker hit me and almost-totalled the front bumper of the Acura MDX. It seemed ghastly. My abnormal nature was about to burst out. The tanker & the Acura came to a mandatorily-screeching halt in the middle of Lagos-Ibadan expressway. The complaining passengers came down from my ride and started firing insults at the picture-taking rate of my Canon 1dxMK2: 16 insults per second. The type of insults that were flying in the air made me re-analyse the scene and wonder if it was more than vehicles that were damaged.
I sat down in my driver’s seat. I relaxed my chair very well. My abnormal nature was about to be unleashed. And then I formed a sleeping position. For almost 30 minutes, I feigned sleep. I was determined not to unleash a type of anger that will be akin to what Moses measured out when he struck the rock with his staff. No. I was going to be calm amidst this midnight storm. A few minutes into my nap, I opened my eyes and instructed all the passengers not to fight for me. I told them to stop insulting the tanker driver and just head to their various homes. I told them they should not worry that I would handle it. And handle it I would eventually do.
About 30 minutes later when I realized I was fully calm and relaxed, I alighted from the Acura to view the damage to the car and the traffic caused on the road. Twas more devastating than I had thought. The front left tyre was busted and definitely TYRED. I approached the driver in steps that almost looked like slow motion if you were watching the drama that was about to ensue. “E ka le sir,” I greeted him while simultaneously stretching out my hand in an attempt to give him a handshake.
For what seemed like 2 seconds, it seemed like his pot-belly was what was going to shake my hand as he looked at me with surprise in his eyes. He seemed shocked that I was attempting to exchange what seemed like pleasantries instead of quickly addressing the situation. He eventually shook my hand and replied my greeting in Yoruba. I placed my hands on his shoulder and asked him gently, KI LO SHELE GANGAN? (What exactly happened?)
Before you know it, he was apologetic and swearing and declaring how he was not to blamed. I told him he’ll have to pay something for the damage that had been done even if what he was paying was N10. He looked at me and was almost upset that I would mention N10. I looked back at him and told him that I had to report to my bosses that though someone hit me, I ensured that he dropped something to contribute towards the repair that would be required.
After having a mini-board-meeting with his 2 assistant drivers, he collected my account number and swore to the God that he served that he will pay something into my account by 8am the next day. That would have been 7.5hrs later. He assured me that if he did not pay something, that may all his fasting not be accepted by Allah. I looked into his eyes and smiled. I gave him the account number because I’m not a fighter. Remember I told you I wasn’t normal. Apparently, the normal Nigerian would not have done that. We cleared the express only for me to discover that the tyre needed replacement. And the backup replacement was apparently the wrong backup replacement. This would be the first time I would change an extra tyre after getting the car, sorry, SUV. I eventually had to park the ride, settle the vigilante in the area and walk the remainder part of the journey so I could eventually get home at 1:42 am.
It costed me time and money to repair the damage. In retrospect, I realized how easy it is to run mad in this country. When you listen to the way we complain, and watch the way we drive, and analyze the way we think, you’ll realize it takes more effort to attempt to be a sane person in a seemingly-insane environment. I’ll be honest, sometimes, I get TYRED of the entire system. But I find strength in me to gather mustard-seed faith to still believe in the average Nigerian and the country Nigeria.
It’s been 13 days now since the accident and I’m yet to receive a credit alert from that pot-bellied tanker driver. Perhaps his phone crashed. Perhaps he forgot. Or perhaps he mistakenly transferred to the account number of the person reading this. If the latter is the case, then the purpose of this post is just to let you know the rightful owner of that mis-transfer. Else, I’m writing this to let you know how being an abnormal Nigerian prevented me from killing someone for hitting my ride and denying that it wasn’t his fault.
Like my Akure friend will emphasize, Las Las, we will all be alright.