Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Perhaps it was the mattress because though it wasn’t written “waterbed” on it, it behaved in much the same way like one except that this one gave me so much body aches that I wonder why I would sleep on it a second time. The woozy feeling that characterizes going to bed tired and waking up tired seemed to be my lot as I dragged my bag, with a laptop that passes for a starter-kit for weight lifters, ready to go to work.

Navigating through the town from my home to my office had never been an issue but today, it seemed like I was traveling to one of those remote villages with dilapidated classrooms…to write JAMB! (If you’ve written that exam once or more, you’ll get the picture perfectly.) I tried to keep the strut in my steps as I walked to the street ahead to pick a cab. The walk was unusually long and I couldn’t help but think of how I would be able to do all the things lined up for the day. At the junction on any other day, I would keep walking till I got a cab or just pick a bus for all its worth but with my bag pack feeling like a ton of bricks, standing and walking both seemed like daunting tasks so I chose to just glide so as not to get the feeling of either alternative.

All the cabs appeared to be avoiding my street until this particular cab surfaced in the distance and my hand was out in a flash motioning for him to notice me first amongst the many others that were all along the street, way ahead of me. We both seemed determined because he sort of ignored the other people and headed straight for me. Now I think I understand why he did because on getting to where I was, the Golf Volkswagen car he was driving seemed to move further than where he wanted it to stop and before I got where he was, he was making the attempt to open the door as though he had seen me on TBN or CNN. I got to him and the look on his face had nervousness written all over it. I told him where I was headed and he said “oga, I just dey start this work, I no too sabi road”. Now, am quite sure that if I wasn’t feeling the way I had described earlier, I would have heard him clearly, especially those things he wasn’t saying and that I was about to find out.

I got into the cab and reached for the seat belt and we were to move when he asked me what direction he was to go and I said the same one he came from. His attempt to turn the car around sort of made me take back the instruction to go that direction and made clear to me the reason he had asked if there were any V.I.O’s (Vehicle Inspection Officer) on the route. I had told him I don’t usually look out to observe them because half the time, am reading something and only looking up once in a while. By now, I knew reading would not be an option this morning but to be sober and vigilant!

Clenching the steering wheel, changing the gear and looking up to see the road ahead as though he was replaying the process in his mind as was told him by his driving instructor, I knew this was a good time for me to get out of the car but my curiosity got the best of me and I wanted to see what would happen. I can’t die in a car accident so I knew being in the car was insurance for him because with the way he was sweating, without a license, he needed insurance!

The paint on the cab was quite fresh as I saw through the side mirror which suggested that he must have just acquired the car, got it painted for town taxi business and got the “taxi driver’s list of music cd’s for dummies” (which he was still acquiring by the way). The cars whirring past us were somewhat more intimidating now that I wasn’t sure the way this guy was feeling about it.

Getting to the expressway on the bridge before the Sheraton Hotel, a Toyota Camry car joining from the overhead bridge on my right hand side came in so fast that this guy pulled a stunt that caused him to bash into the car to our left. Seeing our car screeching, somersaulting and then bursting into flames, the normal outcome of events, played out in my mind in rapid succession but I knew none would happen. I then told him to pull over and motioned for the cars coming behind that we needed to stop. You can be sure that he got insulted from a car driver that was miles away and whose car wasn’t even the one hit. The owner of the bashed car came and parked in front of us and I told this very jittery driver to just calm down and sincerely beg the other driver because he was out rightly wrong in this case. He got out and before the car owner could make a “you don bash my car” accusation, this guy was on the ground prostrating and begging with such superfluity that you would think he killed someone. After about five or so minutes, the Alhaji and his colleague let this guy go mentioning to him that an apology would not repair the car.

We got to the office in one piece except that I was actually exhausted, “driving” from the passenger’s seat in front, with this guy that by this time looked like he could use a life jacket! I paid him his charge as we had agreed and he wanted me to manage the change he was giving me because he couldn’t find some few Nairas to complete the said amount. (Can you believe this guy?) Well, I told him if there was anyone to manage, it should be him. I think I’ve had my month’s share of managing this morning alone.

Reflecting on the incident, I now know that when we pray for patience or any other virtue, God doesn't just give us a potion with the label "patience" on it. Rather, He gives us opportunities to be patient and acquire the virtue. It reminded me that God sometimes sits in the car of our lives when we don’t have a clue as to where we’re going and like this driver, we should learn to just say “yes sir” and “ok sir” to our Instructor on the journey of life – the sweet Holy Spirit. With Him by our side, our car can take a bump once and again without casualties.

‘Bayor Emmanuel Martins

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