I could easily have titled this ‘Diary of a new Lagos driver’, or something like that, but I have refused to resist the opportunity to name tag a breed of people so horrendous, so terrifying, so, so, so… (sigh!). Let’s not even get there.
I recently started driving, and when I say recently, I mean less than a month. Wait! Why do you have that look on your face? Not all of us had our fathers hand us car keys on our 16th birthdays. So that’s how I found myself, in my late twenties, handling the wheels for the first time.
There is almost nothing that did not happen to me in my first two weeks driving. I bashed a car, cars bashed me, slammed me, kissed me; I almost hit someone, I fell into a gutter; my security tripped off in the middle of the expressway at Oshodi and about twenty hoodlums surrounded me, banging my car window and demanding I give them money. To crown it all, operatives of the Federal Road Safety Commission arrested me, apparently because one of my tires had expired.
Driving schools are a rip off. They take your money, make you drive manual on gear one within an estate for two weeks. Seriously, how does that prepare you for the madness out there? And I mean real time madness. Forget the Range Rovers and the cute guys in their sleek suits. Forget the elderly woman who hangs a rosary on her dash board. Forget the keke napep that looks tiny but will hit you and just disappear. Forget them all. They are all the same; out of control, violent, roaming-the-street-on-wheels mad people.
I’m being harsh, right? Why else will a person keep honking behind you when you slow down obviously due to a pothole? Is that not wickedness?
What about the ones who are moving at a snail pace, but immediately start speeding once they see you trafficate? I tell you, it is man’s inhumanity to man.
The other day, this guy was fiddling with his phone and driving. I was so horrified-who does that? Well, almost everybody in Lagos. I don’t even dare put on my car stereo, who needs that kind of distraction? You’ve got to just focus…or not, the choice is yours. I mean, it’s only a matter of life and death, so feel free to play with your destiny.
Someone else teased me about my sitting posture, I didn’t even care. I lean back on my sofa at home. When driving, I sit up straight, hairs on my back standing, car seat adjusted so far forward the steering wheel is almost touching my chest. Sure, I look like I’m about to fly out through the windscreen, but na una sabi. At least I’m alive, and I intend to be for long. Driving is not taking me down.
I think the worst of all is how I used to pride myself on being soft spoken – but now, you can’t imagine the expletives I roll out on Danfo drivers, in my native tongue, and when they obviously can’t hear me, I try my best to bestow a ‘waka’. In my fantasy I get to drive around with a revolver. You bash me. I shoot you. You die. O ti tan. Thankfully it’s just a fantasy. It’s just a fantasy o.
Please drive safe and sane. Let’s actually follow the traffic rules and maintain our lanes. A little order won’t kill anyone.
The opinions expressed in this piece are entirely those of the author.