“The best thing one can do about the rain is to let it rain, because the nicest thing about the rain is that it stops…”
“You will never get to work on time sitting in traffic, so prepared to be annoyed. However, sitting in traffic is not bad as long as your lane moves faster than the lane beside you…”
This week has not been my best week in months so far and it is okay because of course, life goes on. So this is a rare situation of me catching a cold that I have hardly ever caught. I guess my red blood cells are asking for another nine  lives injection.
Anyways, this Monday, I woke up to the rain. As it is in Lagos, especially for all workers in companies, Firms and organizations, 4am is the normal time to wake up and get ready to set about the day’s activities. So when I woke up this particular Monday morning by exactly 4.04am to the rain pour, I thought ‘it would stop before 5.10am, it has been raining since about 2am‘.
I was wrong. It rained throughout that morning and into the afternoon. Myself and my friend who stayed with me had to find our way through the rain to get to our separate offices. Unfortunately for us both, we had no umbrella [Long story about how my umbrella got forgotten and later taken by the ‘Nigerian owner’ and so I have no umbrella].
I do not want to tell you the sordid detail of how we left home by 5.30am in spite of the rain after hoping that it would be mild, did not get a bus out of Badore to Ajah till about 6.35am, finally got to Ajah by 7.50am due to the heavy traffic and there was just no bus to our destination. How we waited on the BRT queue for another 30 minutes and then another 2 hours journey from Ajah to VI, before I finally got to work that Monday. I remember clearly getting to the office by 10.42am dripping wet and shaking like a 1 year old leaf!
My post is to tell you what happened to me this Wednesday and how the struggle in Nigeria and in fact Lagos, is very very real. So as usual, I woke up by 4am on the dot and prepared to leave the house before 4.40am. It was raining this particular morning as usual but I was getting used to it. My friend and I left home by 4.50am and walked under the rain to the estate gate, hoping to find a quick keke to Ajah/Ilaje to meet up with my other friend who was driving to work.
Now my other friend was coming from Thomas Estate, Ajah and we knew her chances of getting to Ajah/Ilaje before us was very high so I called and asked her to wait for 5 -7 minutes, if in any case she gets to the meeting point before us. My people, we waited at my junction for a keke to Ajah till 6.30am.
I was very scared. My heart beat was racing. I knew I was going to get late to work. It was raining on us, the roads were clogged with water, deep pot-holes and there were just too many cars coming out at the same time. I let out a deep sigh and crossed back to the other side of the road with my friend to enter a keke that was coming from the other side. That was the only means of getting a transport that was not already filled with people. By this time, my other friend had already left for work.
Admist the traffic, we got to Ajah by 7.45am and queued up to join the BRT since there was no fast hope of getting a bus by that time without having to fight with all the other frustrated Lagosians and getting dirty from muddy water. The BRT began to move by 7.55am and by 8.45am, the BRT broke down before Osapa London -Jakande. My chest began to dance the samba and tango at the same time. My head was speaking in so many tongues I couldn’t even hear. My hands began to speak gibberish to my body.
I did not know what to do. At this point, there was no bus that was half full or empty going my direction. All the buses kept screaming Ikate/Chisco. For the love of God, I begged in my heart for an Obalende or CMS buses or even a Lekki bus. None came. The BRT driver disappeared.
I could hear complaints from left, right and center. Some people did not even have the complete fare to continue their journey, so they started fighting to enter any other BRT that was coming even if it was extremely full. I was afraid to stand under the rain seeing that I was already shivering. My insides were rumbling from cold and I could not even keep warm. I decided with my friend to resort to street begging of private cars.
My people, it was not an easy something. No car owner/driver/passenger even looked our direction. They were either pressing their phones, making up, eating their breakfast, talking on the phones, jamming to their radios, talking to their next passenger, sleeping or reading papers or office documents or whatever those people reading, were reading.
I was inside the BRT trying to communicate like a lost puppy to any driver that cared to pay attention. I waved, I hissed out loud, I knocked on the BRT windows, for where!?
Not a single human being heard me or even paid attention. Not one. I began to fear for my safety. What if I was in a very bad situation that needed somebody’s attention. Just anybody. What if I was been assaulted, harassed or even in the process of being kidnapped? Nobody would have observed. I fear for what this country has done to us. We care no more about anything or anybody.
My friend sighed and came down under the rain hoping to maybe see a free bus with even one space. We were prepared to lap each other. Not a single bus.
I looked at my time, it was 9.45am. What was I going to say at the office? That there was traffic? That was nonsense! It is just like saying there is no light. Really? Who does not know that there is traffic in Lagos or that Nigeria generally does not have light? Is that an excuse to be late? Who cares? Get your self together, understand your area and come out by 2am if it means you have to, to avoid any unforeseen contingency. Just make sure you get to work at the appropriate resumption time. Some bosses may be nice during the rain and give you a 30 minutes or 1 hour grace but not all bosses would so do. In this Nigeria? When the economy is hard and everybody is trying to find a living, you now want to spoil someone else’s business with your lateness? Biko, stay your lane and they will stay on theirs…
Anyways, I had already informed my colleagues at the office that I would be late due to the happenings around me but I was still very scared. I was late on Monday and Tuesday, now I was adding Wednesday to the picture. Very hilarious. My throat was clogged with tears. I came down from the BRT into the rain and began to shiver and shake like a worm that had been poured salt. I ran back into the BRT and looked out again, this time hoping to find a good samaritan.
I noticed a black jeep and just somehow my eye caught the eye of the owner at the back making a phone call. The man just kept staring at me as I made several hand gestures in a pleading form and mouthing ‘anywhere you are going’. He just looked on, looked at his driver and then looked at me again. My friend mouthed ‘VI, Obalende‘ but the man was just looking confused as he was making his call. I was really hoping he would wind down his windows and say ‘I do not understand you’ or ‘Come in or ‘No, I am sorry’ but this man said nothing and the car zoomed off. I was highly disappointed.
I stared on and just then, my friend said “Oh look, another BRT is coming” and I said in reply “let’s go out and see if we can smuggle ourselves into it.”
So we came down, told the other lady with a baby that there was a BRT coming and that it would be nice to smuggle our way out of this terror plus her baby was getting wet under the rain and I felt bad. So the BRT came and miraculously, I saw our BRT driver who pleaded on our behalf to let us in.
I let the woman and her baby go in first, while I followed after my friend. There was no space to sit in the BRT bus so we had to stand. This was my first standing experience in a BRT so I was not sure how exactly to position myself. I kept hitting the lady in front of me and having to apologize so many times till I was finally able to figure it out. I felt so embarrassed. However, the lady was kind to me and later showed my friend and I, how to sit on the rail covering the engines close to the BRT driver, so that I did not have to stand
Phew! This post has become a rant.
Anyways, I got to my work place by 11.10am, said a quick prayer and ran up the stairs to my office room. When I got in, my colleagues were so nice to me and my boss just smiled me off and said “I heard your bus broke down, it’s okay. Just settle in and do your assigned work.”
I ran back to my desk, tried to dry myself even though the AC was on and pretend that everything was normal. Going back home that day was a night mare. Another friend of mine who I had followed on the way home had a car break down and he did not know just what to do. His mum who was in the car as well had to call in the dad to come to where we were parked to help out with the car. I got home that day by 12.17am.
I just swallowed spit and resolved that come what may, tomorrow was going to be better but Thursday and today being Friday, still turned out same. Even though I woke up by 3.50am to get out early, I still arrived work later than my 8.00am resumption time but I still believe that each day will be better than the last and I will not stop believing that.
NB: If you are living in Lagos and you understand the tactics and judgment here, you will agree with me that every individual needs to own at least if not two  but one  umbrella for this rainy season and a rubber slipper, you cannot afford to get your shoes wet and your socks for the guys. The ladies, it is not enough that you own an umbrella, add a rain shower cap to the list. The umbrella may just spoil, like mine did on Thursday. The rain blew it up and over. Thank God, I had something to cover my hair in.
As for the traffic, we all know that Lagos is no child’s play, so be an early riser and in situations like this, be prepared to rise by even 3am if it so means. If you get to work too early, catch a good amount of sleep by your corner before the time for resumption. Don’t worry, it will be better…maybe. I understand that you like your bed but hey guys, let’s make hay while the sun shines so that we can later lie on our bed as we have laid it. The evenings, I still have no prescription because I always get home late. I am even used to it, be it even by 1.20am. If you live by Badore, I am sure you will understand what I am saying.
Cheers to a good weekend guys.
PS: I have not had time to follow up on my previous post on Alpha series and I apologize for the delay. I have been busy and I promise to put up something soon.