Thursday mornings in Lagos are different, as any observant resident will tell you. Markets in the metropolis have their sanitation exercise on Thursday and most traders leave home much later than they would on normal days. Since trading doesn’t start till 10 a.m. when the sanitation is over, buyers also stay away, and the combination of both factors causes a significant reduction in the volume of road traffic.
I left home quite early on Thursday to fully utilize the reprieve. When I picked up my first passenger around Magodo, the first thing I noticed was his perfume. See, there is smelling good, and there is smelling good. This brother smelled so good that I almost broke my code of silence to ask him for the name of his perfume, but good sense prevailed just in time. He looked cute too, and his voice, gosh!
The universe was definitely in a giving mood.
“Hi there,” he greeted warmly as he settled himself in the back seat. “I almost didn’t believe my ears when I heard your voice on the phone. Like, a female Uber driver? For real? Nice.”
I smiled, a bit sheepishly in hindsight, and started driving. I won’t admit it had anything to do with his good looks or how much his perfume was meddling with my brain, but for the first time in my Uber life, I started wishing for traffic, just so I could spend some more time bathing in this delicious dream.
There I was waiting for him to continue with the conversation too, but guess what he said after that opening comment.
Nothing, absolutely nothing at all.
Imagine the irony. The only time I actually wanted a passenger to yada yada, he decides to keep mum. Argh! I even switched off the radio to give him some encouragement, but no, dude didn’t bite. He had a small book with him which he slowly leafed through as I silently fumed.
“Waste of a journey,” I thought to myself as I watched him walk away after he paid for his trip. I didn’t even get his name.
Rather than drive off immediately, I spent the next five minutes breathing in and out aloud to savor the last of his essence before it finally disappeared and wondering what could have been.
Yes, it was that nice.
There’s this thing the universe does where it gives you an unexpected bonus and then turns around sometime later to make you pay double for it.
After the great start, most of the day went well until around 2 p.m. when someone booked a trip. I was actually debating to stop for lunch or not when he did, which put a stop to my debate. I picked him up at Matori, but the moment he yanked the door open and boarded, I knew I was in trouble.
He stank, horribly, of raw fish.
How a human being could smell so strongly of fish without actually having any of it on his person was baffling because he wasn’t carrying anything. The ooze was overwhelming, and it was as if his clothes were made of fish skin or scales.
As if that wasn’t enough, he chose to sit beside me in front.
“Ehen, Mile 2,” he said. Then he belched.
Finally, I had my answer.
The fish was inside him, and not only was it dead, it was rotten.
I couldn’t reject the trip outright could I, so I started driving, dazed and all. To avoid gagging I switched off the air conditioner and stylishly took the windows down a few inches. He didn’t seem to mind or notice, in fact, it seemed the breeze did him good because he soon fell asleep. I quickly wound all the way down.
You remember what I said earlier, about the universe demanding double recompense for an earlier favor?
First, I ran into traffic just before the pedestrian bridge at Aswani. A trailer carrying a forty foot container had jackknifed across the Expressway spilling its cargo of plastic pallets, and everybody was diverted to the service lane as LASTMA and FRSC officials struggled to manage the snarl.
The noise of impatient drivers and their cars woke my passenger from his slumber, and then it started to rain, so I had to wind up the windows. In no time at all, my car’s interior was like the inside of a malfunctioning cold room, and to make matters worse, uncle started trying to make conversation.
“How did you get this car?”
I pretended as if I didn’t hear him.
“Nne, you don’t have a boyfriend o, or you won’t be doing Uber.”
I had to do something fast, or somebody was going to die real soon.
‘Something’ turned out to be me pretending that the car was faulty shortly after we left the impasse behind. I ‘managed’ it onto the shoulder, letting it jerk a couple of times for effect, flipped open the hood and conjured my best ‘damsel in severe distress’ look. Of course, he was angry, the fishy cesspit, but I canceled his trip and told him not to bother paying anything as compensation for the inconvenience.
Drastic times call for drastic action, and lost fare seemed like a token to exchange for life itself.
I waited until he found a bike and rode out of sight before I slammed the hood shut, restarted the engine and drove to one restaurant I knew near LASPOTECH where their Pepper soup was top notch. The next hour was pleasantly spent getting warm from the inside out before I decided to call it a day and head back home.
Ever the calculating economist, I got in the car and set my route for Oshodi, hoping to compensate for the loss. Someone buzzed in just as I descended the bridge at Daleko, and I agreed to pick him up at the bus stop by the Expressway.
“Uber?” questioned the middle-aged man who tentatively came up to my lowered window.
“Yes,” I responded. “Come in.”
“No be me,” he smiled back. “Na my friend dey go. Him phone die.”
Another man moved into my line of sight, just as my nostrils picked up the offensive odor of you guessed right, fish!
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