#MinWageChallenge Diary- Day 4; The Bus Can Be a Dangerous Place

Today was an interesting day. I had a very important meeting in V.I. that I could not arrive at smelling or sweating. I’ve known this meeting was coming up for a while so I’ve been thinking of ways to arrive at their office without looking harassed. I had thought of leaving the house in a t-shirt then going to a nearby eatery to change. I was going to Balarabe Musa; there was no nearby eatery.

I then toyed with the idea of just turning up with a t-shirt and then using their bathroom to change and freshen up but I didn’t know what their office looked like and whether it would be possible for me to do this without attracting unnecessary attention or weird looks. Anyway, when I woke up this morning, I told myself that people sweat so I would just dress up in my regular clothes and wear lots of deodorant. Normally, I count to six when I’m using my roll-on. Today, I counted to twenty. I got lucky on my way out to get a ride that dropped me right at the gate of where I was going. I was one hour early but oh well, I guess as time goes on I will be able to predict travel times better. I thought this would happen so I had my magazine to keep me busy. 

 I also thought it would be cool to experiment with reading on my commute. This didn’t happen as the bus on the way back was just something else. From just outside BJays Hotel, I got into a bus heading to Ajah. I naively told the conductor Ajah thinking that VGC which is on the way is covered. I wasn’t sure how much it cost so I took out N200 and first gave him N100 and then when he looked like he was expecting more I gave him the second N100. Yes, I have been living on cues. 

At first I was sat next to two young men who were sitting like they were watching football in their living room. One of them actually had his hand behind his head in that ‘Yeah Whaddup’ pose. I tried to ask them to move in a bit but my voice only came out in a little squeak. Once someone on the front row got off, I thought to move over there since it looked more spacious. 

Well, well, well, it was indeed more spacious but there was a seat-belt buckle that could not be moved. I looked back at my old space and it was already taken. I proceeded to assault my bum by sitting on the buckle. I tried to angle my bum in different positions but nothing worked. I had to perch there and hope I wasn’t doing damage to any body parts. 

Listening to the rowdy bus driver and conductor helped distract me from my discomfort. For some reason, people just did not want to make space for others on the bus. The conductor kept yelling, “Dress!” “Dress!” and the driver would often turn round while still driving the bus forward to join in asking people to make room for others. Every so often, we would pull up next to truck emitting toxic fumes and inhale some of that nastiness for a while.

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It was terrible at the toll-gate. As usual, the bus rider did not form a lane like the regular folks but drove forward only to look for someone to ‘chance’. He met his match with this lady. They struggled for a bit and then he said, “Ejo”, as he motioned to plead with her to allow him in front of her. Her glass was down so she said, “Say please”. He said a muffled “Abeg”. She said, “Say Aunty Abeg” and he said “Madam Abeg”. She then said, “So you can call me Madam but you can’t call me Aunty eh?” He said something in Yoruba that I interpreted as cuss words and then he started to reverse. I thought he finally decided to be civil and join the queue but he drove forward in full speed just to chuck his head in front of someone else. 

Next thing I remember, someone on my row was getting off and a few of us had to get down to let him off. Secretly, I was happy because he was carrying a bag that smelled like decaying meat. I also needed to give my bum a break from that dreadful seat-belt buckle. As I was getting off some other lady was hustling to get in the front seat. Everything happened so fast that next thing I know, my fingers were getting slammed in the front door I had held onto as I excused the man carrying the dead meat. Thankfully, I wasn’t badly hurt. Just some pain in one of my fingers but I doubt anything is damaged.

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As we passed the second tollgate, I let the conductor know that I was stopping at VGC. He said OK and then next thing I know the bus was turning off the express road. I was like “Dude, where are you going?” My voice was suddenly less mousy. He told me he wasn’t stopping at VGC. That he was taking a diversion. So I asked him to stop me. He did. I got off and started thinking of how to get to VGC. It wasn’t a long walk but it was an express way. I saw some bikes but none of them wanted to go to VGC because they were afraid of police. Finally, I found a daredevil who told me he would have to ride back one-way, breaking traffic rules so I had to pay him an extra N50 for the risk.  I did.

When he stopped me, I ran across the express like everyone else because there is no overhead bridge at the roundabout. Once inside VGC, I ‘jejely’ walked home; because the shuttle costs N100 and ain’t nobody got cash for that. I ate my breakfast for lunch and I am hungry as I write.


 

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