On Thursday, I decided to take public transportation in Lagos as I had not done this since 2009. I felt it was time to go back to the basics to reflect and see how that would make me feel.
The bus ride was pretty interesting. I actually wrote down everything I noticed on my notepad.
From Lekki first gate, I saw an empty bus going to Obalende and I remembered I used to prefer to sit at the back to the left, by the window, so I didn’t have to worry about anyone rubbing themselves on me whenever they wanted to alight from the bus. Even while taking public transportation in Lagos, one needs to be strategic.
I was happy about the empty bus, however, I wasn’t the only one with this strategy. While smiling to myself and feeling lucky, a lady pushes past me and went straight to the seat I had designated for myself in my head. Pschew! I didn’t like that but I went in after her anyway, if she gets down before me, I could still take over.
The man who sat beside me wore an oversized grey blazer and clutched a bible to his chest as if he was afraid it would be snatched from him. As he sat down, I heard him mutter “reboshcalaba”. I took a quick glance at him, ‘was he anointing the seat or what?’ He caught me looking so I smiled at him, he smiled right back. I shook my head in wonder…why do you have to scabash out loud before taking your seat?
The lady beside me snap chatted herself with her earphones on. She had no care in the world, bus or no bus, snap chat must be updated. I wondered to myself if this was something I would have done, I didn’t think so. This is what was going through my mind when I heard “thud!”
Something had dropped, it was the pastor’s phone.
As he tried to pick it up, I made room by pressing my legs together and moving more to the left. Pastor bent to pick up his phone, on his way back up, he managed to graze his bald head on my breast. I instinctively elbowed him. His head hit the seat in front of us and he sat back up awkwardly, I elbowed him again, trying to catch his eye but he wouldn’t look at me. The girl sitting next to me laughed out so loud, passengers turned back to find out what was happening. No one said anything…the girl couldn’t stop laughing, I kept a straight face and pastor -still refusing to look at me- stylishly rubbed his forehead.
We got to Obalende but not Obalende bus-stop. The conductor screamed at everyone to get down from the bus. I told him “Aha aha but we’re not at Oblaende Bus-stop now”. He looked at me like I was crazy since I was the only one complaining and everyone was already alighting from the bus. “Come down jor,” said the driver from his seat “na Obalende be this”. I accepted my fate, as I was alighting from the bus I felt it move under me. “Oga wait now, I’m trying to get down,” I said calmly “motor don dey behind me, come down! come down!” the driver barked at me. So I alighted from a moving bus, like a pro.
On my way back from Obalende, I was lucky to sit by the window at the far back, to the left. The conductor announced the fare was N200 from Obalende to Lekki. However, I heard the lady who came on the bus after me say: “Na N150 I get o”. The conductor whispered to her, “no wahala, enter”.
Huh? Can we negotiate bus fares? As the bus filled up and started moving, I called the conductor’s attention, “Me too na N150 I go pay o. All of us dey go the same place” Before the conductor could respond, lady negotiator jumped at me “Abeg abeg no jealous me. We no enter this bus together, pay your money make I pay my own”. Her voice was loud, more than one vein on her neck seemed to be stressed too.
I was shocked at first but that quickly dissolved into a fit of laughter. The man seated in front of us adjusted himself and looked back at lady negotiator “she dey jealous you inside your ranger rover or what? Abi the mansion wey you carry enter this bus?” Lady negotiator almost spat in the guy’s face “face your front oga, e no concern you”
The gentle man then told the conductor “if she’s paying N150, we’re all paying N150”. Of course, everyone thought this was a good idea and an association was immediately formed in the bus. the conductor and driver threatened to drop us all off mid-way but when we all refused to back down, they eventually agreed to collect N150 and we all became gist partners…except lady negotiator, her veins looked more stressed and seemed to have multiplied. Obviously, she wasn’t happy.
Eskis ma, you’re no more the special child paying a reduced bus fare. All animals are now equal!
First published on August 7, 2017