I stand on the pavement as I talk on the phone. I am about to cross the road but this point is a bend. I walk backward so I can have a proper view of cars driving down. The road frees up a bit and I cross to the other side while still talking on the phone.
As I get to the bus stop, the conductors shout their destination at the top of their voices. I attempt to listen to them by straining my ears while the person on the other side of my mobile phone is still talking. Did I hear the conductor’s destination? I am not sure. But the guy collects the raffia bag in my hand, opens the door to the front passenger seat and ushers me in. I wonder if my destination is written on my face.
I ease into the front passenger seat. I am through with my call and I hear my destination being called by the conductor. Cool! A woman enters into the bus and sits adjacent to me on the next row. She is seated barely two minutes when she starts to shout. “Driver, abeg, move this bus nau. Na here we go sleep?” I look back at her. She just came in. Why is she in a hurry?
About four passengers get into the bus, then the woman raises her voice again. “Driver, if you no go comot for this place, I go get down. Ahn…ahn, you no fit carry passenger for road? The bus wey dey your back don go, you still dey wait”.
The driver ignores her but when the woman makes an attempt to get down, the driver speaks up. “Madam, take am easy nau. Me and the bus wey dey for back no dey do competition. I waka my own, he waka im own”. I look back at the woman expecting her to be off the bus already, but she is seated. So what was all that for?
The driver is about to move when the conductor says “500, 1000, bring your money now, make I change am. I no get change oh”.
I look into my purse and realize that I fall into this category. I take out a 500 naira note and hand it over to the conductor. He gives it to a tout in uniform who is now standing by my side. I notice a lot of one thousand naira notes in his trouser pocket. “Àwön ti …… nìyën”. (They belong to ……) The conductor says looking at me. What am I supposed to do with that information?
“Aunty, ë lo seat belt yín”. (Aunty, use your seat belt). He says. I look at him with a frown on my face. I am about to ask for my change when I hear; “I am also a human being like you. I say make you use your seat belt, you are looking at me like that”.
“Ta ló wò é nítorí seat belt. O ní pé o fé sé owó. O gba owó l’ówó mi, o ò fún mi ni change” (Who is looking at you because of the seat belt. You said you wanted to change money into smaller denominations. You collected my money and you are not giving me my change).
He suddenly realizes this is not about his face, his position or his job. “Aunty, no vex. I will give you your change”.
His attitude however got me thinking. I could have been frowning because I was having a bad day. I could have been frowning because of the call I just dropped. I could have been frowning because I was tired and hungry. I could even have been frowning because the sun was bearing down on me.
Question 1. How many times have we judged the other person just by their look?
Question 2. Is touting a job? The number of N1000 notes in the tout’s pocket could pass for half of my monthly salary.
Question 3. The seat belt was just a fashion accessory. It was not meant to restrain me in case of an accident. Who checks this?
On a lighter note, when I think about the conductor’s statement about being “a human being”, I laugh. Did he think he was an animal? 😅😅😅
Photo Credit: http://www.gongnews.net