I am an Ajebutter. Not by birth, or by formings, or by swag – I am simply an unapologetic Ajebutter by default. I didn’t choose to be born one. God, without seeking my opinion (because He’s God, I guess), gave me the genes of an Ajebutter and a funny Bri-Merican accent . By luck or some twisted work of fate, fortune, Karma (I might have killed ten defenseless puppies in my past life) or destiny, I have found myself in Lagos, crazy Lasgidi, and this is my story…
Lacking a car in Lagos can be damn annoying. But sometimes riding the public transport can be such an experience. You meet new people, some of them weird, some others just flatly annoying, many are without personalities though, zombies in passage.
My journey through the rich movement of vehicles have always put me in the line of fire. I remember almost clashing with a rude conductor who had the nerve to call a woman a whore over a disagreement over her correct balance. I quickly jumped from my sit to demand an apology but I wasn’t fast enough.
Someone else got him before I could. A punch to the face by a fine gentleman had him squarely on the floor. His face smashed in and bleeding. I hated to see him bleed, but thank God for chivalry.
Right the other day, I saw my conductor get beaten by touts at a bus stop. They demanded N100 from him because he had the nerve to pick up passengers at their spot. He declined, bared his teeth and his chest and went to war. He almost didn’t return alive.
Then there was the day, my gigantic conductor drove past a junction and unleashed an accurate stream of spittle on the face of a toll collector. The young man, surprised and mad, released a punch, which earned him the beating of his life. Why did my conductor go in for the kill?
His reason was priceless:“Oga, the other day as I bin dey drive pass here, this guy slap me. I no touch am because I been dey drive fast. But today, I don see am, do am back, and my belle don sweet me.”
You have to admire his tenacity and focus to serve his revenge the proper way. I searched deep in my heart for some part of me to be reviled at such old school vengeance, but found none. This man had taken his wrong like a man, and waited for the right moment to return the favour. If anything, a little part of me was impressed. If only we could have shared a celebratory drink. Where the hell is Orijin when you need it.
“Here’s to your father”, I would have cheered heartily, sipping the dark brew. “The good man did a good job in raising you to be a man, and defend yourself”.
I am not proud of those feelings, neither do I deny them. I rather acknowledge their existence, and I think someday I might have to call on them for basic street survival. I do not try to extinguish its flame. Just diminish its power.
But the height of my experience with conductors have come from the day my conductor fought a man over N20 and received the beating of his life.
I boarded a bus from Ajah, with intent on alighting at Lekki. The price as I type is N200, which I paid willingly.
In between my take-off and destination, there are a number of bus stops. Each has its unique pricing system determined by the driver and in special cases, the passenger. At one of them, a medium-built man got in. His normal fare was N50, but the conductor demanded for N100. It was rush hour, and he needed the ride, so he brandished N70 and muttered something which gained him entrance into the bus.
At his desired stop, he alighted and the conductor chased after him, while we drove off. Later the driver, missing his colleague pulled over and waited for a little over 10 minutes. The conductor to soon joined us, clutching a bruised face and a bleeding lower lip.
“Wetin happen”. The alarmed driver barked.
“The guy no gree pay the moni, so I go fight am, make him sabi say I be man too. Him give me N70 instead of N100. So I go beat am”. The conductor replied, while spitting out blood-stained gob.
The gist from the episode was that both the passenger and the conductor had a communication error which made him board with N70, and on alighting, he offered the agreed sum. The conductor refused, tried to get physical and got hurt bad for all his troubles.
This came from the same conductor who had earlier given a Police officer a ride for free, and also did similar to a transport worker, all for free. But a passenger who offered two-third of his fare was destined to receive a good beatdown. The logic was lost on me.
The conductor got the beatdown instead, and I got a good silent laugh. Lagos conductors, getting beatdowns since 1960.
See you next Tuesday. Peace and good hustle.