Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Don't Wind Down in Lagos Traffic

I have many tales to tell on how this chick is fast becoming a Lagos city trotter oh! Yes, I've packed my bags and moved to Lagos, leaving my beloved capital city behind. I fretted about the move—erratic electricity, pollution and the traffic—not too exciting. But mmh, my people, I've realized that even though you take the girl outta of the hood, you can't take the hood out of the girl!

Last week Monday: My first time driving to work, and my second day driving in Lagos since I returned to Nigeria. I decide to take the Race course, TBS exit instead of the usual Federal Secretariat exit and get stuck in hold up on the exit ramp. I'm five minutes away from my office but in typical Lagos fashion it could take me 30 minutes before I pull into to our office lot. I'm antsy.

My windows are wound down just a tad bit. For some reason the A/C had been fogging up my windows since I left home, so I turned the air off so I could see where I was going. It was either that or risk an early morning head-on with a crazy Lagos motorists on Third Mainland bridge.No thanks, I'll pass.

The car is stuffy and I'm antsy. A young man saunters into view. 5'7', rubbery face, faded short-sleeve with a hardened swagger. My conscious mind says he looks normal enough.

My subconscious and my eyes think otherwise and they follow him. He walks in front of my bumper. Our eyes don't meet. He's studying oncoming traffic as he tries to cross Third Mainland. I draw my attention back to the traffic.

"Cross 3rd mainland to where?" my subconscious asks.

Too late. Mr. man swirls back and locks his eyes on me, hooking his fingers on my wound down window.

Kai! Girl, you're slacking on your Gidi skills, you should have known!

"Anti!" he glues his face to my driver's side window and whispers loudly—a real criminal mastermind!

"Anti, look here. Look here. See wetin I get here!"

Look ko, look ini. I face my front. Just like my teachers taught me. Ahn ahn, is it by force for me to look?

But not to seem too uncooperative, I ask, "What do you want?" I make sure I sound tough and icy, still without looking at him.

Mmmh, but I'm monitoring him with my side eye oh. And my side eye noticed that Mr. Man is reaching into his pocket for his "weapon".

It was in 2002 that this last happened and afternoon I grudgingly parted with my last N40 naira! I was stuck in traffic on Broad street in broad daylight and the guy didn't believe that was all the money I had and on me. After all here I was driving a small Japanese car without A/C. I had to literally open my hand bag and show him.

The real owner was here again for his money or is it cell phones they ask for these days?

"No follow me drive oh."

Nonsense. You get two heads abi?

I start to crush his fingers as I wind up the window. Quick, quick he comots his hand!

The traffic eases up and I move along.

Eko o ni baaje o!