Every hour is rush hour. Rush hour for the bus driver, rush hour for the bus passengers, rush hour for the okada (motorcyclist) and their passengers, rush hour for the private cars and most especially rush hour for the pedestrians. Commuting from one place to another comes with its thrills, annoyance, stress, humorous experiences and also tragic moments. I must say that the life of a commuter that take the bus is the most interesting of all as one comes across all sorts of people, observe all sorts of things and experience first hand lots of things. It is in the bus one can hear the latest gist on happenings in and around town. The conversation of the lady or guy next to you is one you can’t just miss. Even the conductor(mate/bus driver assistant) has something interesting to say. The fun gets even better when the driver joins in. Sometimes these discussions could start from current situations in the country to the passengers dissing or fighting the driver. This reminds me of one evening I was getting back from work. A colleague of mine and I took a bus from a place close to our area. On the way home, some women in the front were talking with the bus driver and all my friend and I could do at the back was chuckle because we didn’t want to be part of the conversation. Half way home, traffic started. We were all waiting it out hoping that the traffic would end soon. Seconds turned to minutes and minutes to hours. After a while people started to leave the bus one by one. In no time, it was just a few of us left in the bus. After a particular woman he was chatting with came down, the bus driver passed a comment about her dressing and all the rest of us could do was laugh and go in awe because it was so amazing how he was quick to turn around and say such a thing about the woman. In all, the traffic didn’t seem to get better and time kept going by so finally at some point my friend and I came down and the driver said “Ah you people they leave me here?” and in one voice the rest of us that came down said “We wan stay here with you? If you wan make we stay oya refund us N20 because we never reach our bus stop”(the fare was N70). The guy smiled and kept asking us not to leave him alone in the traffic…
There are other unpleasant experiences where the person sitting next you probably never heard of the word personal hygiene. It is also most annoying when it is not coming from the conductor because already, from the looks of him you don’t expect him to smell all that good. The commuter suffers seriously during these times as the stench from his/her neighbor is just too bad and the poor person isn’t close to a window where they can turn their face and stick it out not minding the dust or gush of wind slapping their faces. During these moments seconds begin to feel like hours and all you can do is pray the person gets down at the next bus stop or someone else not far from you gets down so you can switch sits. Aside the stench of a fellow commuter or conductor, the smell of fish from the fish seller or the market women carrying their goods is another battle all together.
The stench is not something a commuter experiences all the time (thankfully) but other things do go on. Remember the moment the bus rips your nice clothes or the back of your clothing got stained by the dirty sits or rusted body of the bus. Or the time when the woman next to you is carry so much load that it causes the ride to become uncomfortable but you can’t really say much because there is actually not enough room for everyone….
Away from the stench, one thing that really annoys me when I hear about it is the silent harassment that goes on in the bus. There was a time when guys used to take advantage of the tightness of the ride and intentionally brush their hands or elbows on the boobs of women in the bus. This was a trend until some women stood against this. There was a story I heard of a lady. The guy sitting next to her was “tapping current” and the next thing everyone heard was “twia!” a resounding slap on the guys cheeks! At that moment it wasn’t funny but thinking about it later, it is hilarious! The guy knowing what he had done, could not defend himself or try to retaliate. At the next bus stop, he got down. This story also brings to mind a trend that was on in Lagos a long time ago, when okada riding was fairly new. The okada guys used to intentionally brake so that they could feel the nice airbags on the female passengers behind them. Also during that early stage, before everyone became a pro in okada jumping, a lot of ladies used to hold on tight to the back of the okada guys so as ensure their safety and oh my that was such a splendid ride for the guy. When this trend started going out of hand and women started getting in on the riding tricks these guys were using, they took matters into their own hands, by insulting, hitting and disgracing the rider in public. Some even stopped taking okadas! and that was how that trend faded out.
Back to the bus commuter… Another interesting thing is the fights! oh oooohhh the fights are always something to either watch or get in on. The fights are either about the conductor not having change or him not wanting to give change. The people who really want their change start a scene on the road and this in turn causes traffic because people are slowing down to watch the free episode of “Lagos Wahala” lol or the driver stopped in the middle of the road before the fight started… This reminds me of a song by one Nigeria artist.. part of the chorus goes:
“When you reach your bus stop make you shout
If you no get change una go marry unaself
Move your yansh, move your yansh abeg Mama Ronke
because for inside molue dey no dey denge* ”
This song just makes me laugh every time I hear it. Some other times, the fights are between the bus driver another driver on the road usually private drivers and okada men. In all these, the commuter sits and waits for the issue to be resolved before his/her journey can begin. Meaning, if the person was on the way to work or any other important venue, the person could end up late. What of the times the bus broke down? huumm that’s another familiar and regular experience or the bus tilting to one side and you later find yourself humming to the rackety tunes of the vehicle. The list of experiences goes on and on and on…
Its just another day in the life of a commuter.
Denge means pose/shakara/flex…
Owa is an indication to the driver to stop at when you arrive at your desired bus stop