I don’t live in central Abuja and I see how people struggle to get some form of transport to get to work, so I give people lifts on my way out. People who know Abuja well will easily know the locations that I mention in this post.
My sister and I come out together. We both used to work in Maitama, but at the end of last year, the organisation I work for moved to Asokoro. My sister still works in Maitama so we leave home a little earlier so I can drop her off before I go to work. On days when the traffic might be bad, I drop her in Asokoro where she can jump into a taxi before I proceed to the office. The Federal Secretariat is on the way to Maitama – between Asokoro and Maitama, we tend to give people going that way rides.
One day we gave three people a lift and at A.Y.A. One of the men asked if we were going to Garki and we said no. He got so angry, came out of the car and left the door open. We were all left with our mouths open. I think the other two feared that we could ask them out of the car and were so apologetic on his behalf, but we said it was okay and they stopped at the secretariat which was on our way. My sister and I laughed about it and carried on. Sometimes, people have tried to pay us but we tell them it’s free and they are always so thankful.
We have had a few other bad experiences which at a point made us decide that we won’t give any more lifts, but we so easily went back on our word because sometimes, we see a pregnant woman or a woman with a child and it is inevitable to want to help in the little way we can.
Well, on the morning of the 11th of March, I had the most interesting of all experiences giving people lifts. I picked two ladies who were going to the secretariat by default. Just as we took off, it occurred to me that I was going straight to Asokoro as my sister was not with me. So I mentioned that. The lady in front started complaining and said she would not have got into the car as she prefers people who are going to her destination. She went on to say I would make her do a double journey by having to get another car from AYA. She said a few other things which I chose not to pay attention to. When she finished, I told her that we had not gone far, if she preferred, I could drop her off to get a car to take her but she said she did not like taking cars from the side of the road we were on.
Well, there was no traffic and the drive was quite fast, so I was contemplating taking them to the secretariat as we were out quite early. I needed to make a quick stop at AYA, which was where they would have stopped anyway, so I told them that I could take them right after. The lady started again saying she wanted to get out of the car. I was in the middle of the road trying to negotiate a bend and I told her that she could not get out there. She went on to tell me how inconsiderate I was and said so many things I cannot remember. I apologised and said you know what, I’ll drop both of you first then do my thing later. We were on the way but she just would not stop nagging. I asked her what was upsetting her so much then I told her that by default I go to Maitama everyday and that was why I stopped, the minute I realised I was not going that way, I mentioned it. She had the option of taking another car, then I am taking them anyway, but she is being so rude. She said she does not want me to feel like I am dong her a favour and bla bla bla…
In reality, I was doing her a favour and being given all that trouble for doing it. In my mind, I am thinking she might have had a bad start from home and I will choose not to let her start my day on a bad note. The next thing I hear her say is ‘and you are being so calm about it and trying to be right’. I started laughing then I asked her if she wanted me to shout.
I allowed her calm down then I said ‘I apologise again, and there are better ways to make a point without raising your voice. It was like I opened the door of hell fire…Her first questions was are you okay? Then a barrage of other questions followed…I thought we had ended this conversation? Who do you think you are? Are you sick? In fact, there are a lot of sick people out there and I can see that you are one. She rained down insults on me. I was in shock then I finally asked why she would call me sick. At this point, her finger was in my face and I told her not to raise her voice at me anymore and not to put her finger in my face. The lady behind (let’s call her lady B) was trying to calm her down and telling her that I apologised to them so what more would she want and she can’t start someone’s day like this. Lady B also raised her voice to talk over the angry one asking her to keep quiet and reminding her that I was driving. Well, she didn’t stop.
By this time, we were at Area 11 junction and I was trying to negotiate the bend onto the straight road leading to the secretariat. She started shouting for me to stop the freaking car so she can get out, I somehow managed to say that in the future if she ever saw my car, she shouldn’t approach it.
I wondered again what it was with her and bends, but by this time I had had enough. So I stopped and unlocked the doors, she got out and left the door open. That was not enough for her, she opened the back door and was asking the other lady, lady B, to get out because she was in the wrong car. All this was in the middle of the road…I reached across to close the passenger door, at the same time giving lady B time to make up her mind.
The last thing I heard was ‘idiot’ in that very angry Nigerian way. Then lady B closed the back door and was asking me not to let the angry lady’s actions spoil my day. I told her that it would not and all, she had displayed was wrong on every level. My worry was for her colleagues who might have to put up with that everyday.
Lady B told me I had picked her up before and she was grateful for the rides and she talked of how obviously hot tempered the angry lady is. We were both stunned but I had reached lady B’s stop and I wished her a good day and headed back to AYA for my pick up then to work.
I wondered on my way how such a beautiful person could be like that. When I got to the office, I tried to talk about it but could not. I was still so stunned and I’m unsure why it got to me so much. I finally told a few colleagues, one lives close to me and his only question was ‘why do you even pick people?’ The general response was ‘in Abuja?, you don’t give people lifts like that’. So there, I think I’ve had enough of those experiences!