You notice a few things sitting in Lagos traffic. The first is that every car is a Toyota Camry. The second is that queues are clearly optional.
Time and time again you will see some intrepid traveler scoff in baffled derision at the legions of fools who decided to park themselves bumper to hood, one after the after. Clearly they are all mad. They must not have anywhere to be. He will abruptly over-maneuver his vehicle, usually wielding a rugged marwa as lethal weapon, before accelerating at the speed of light to the front of the queue. Toll gate. Petrol Station. Edge of the world. It doesn’t matter. Riding on a magic carpet soaked in self-importance, he will sail dickily by repeating his mantra of “SITTM” (Stick it to The Man) or “SITTS” (Stick it to The System) or just straight, homegrown “FTG” (Fuck These Guys!!!). And FYI, the latter is 99.9% the case. On arrival at the front of the queue he will either a) admire the sky b) bully the innocent bystander at the front of the queue in a blaze of self-righteous fury.
And, know this! These atrocities are not limited to vehicular traffic. Some people try to pull off this crap on foot! Real talk. There was a day I found myself in Ebeano supermarket, marveling at how I could buy some afofa and spicy peanut butter, watermelons, palm oil, jasmine tea, cous cous and household furniture in the same place. (Incredible since I grew up having to go two towns over to find an African specialty shop.)
So here I was minding my business in the queue of about three people and this Nazi reborn rolls up, clearly imagining that I and my queue-mates were just casually admiring the architecture. She actually parks herself right in front of me with her braided ponytail dangling in my face with insulting impudence. Of all the rotten cheek!
Oprah advocates the power of declaring your dreams, and I wanted to take her advice and throw my hands up to the heavens and whoever would listen, screaming out the Pimp’s Prayer á la A Pimp Named Slickback.
I thought I could finally apply my palm with not inconsiderable force the fleshy part of my nemesis’ check. I imagined delivering a detty slap so roundly and soundly that the girl wouldn’t even know where it came from. I knew the resonance of that crack would sound so, so sweet. But obviously as gently reared and Britishly polite as I am, and considering pesky things like social convention, the slapping process actually looked more like this:
Anywho, suffice it to say a few passive aggressive words were the antic-climactic solution to that particular problem. However, this Herculean level of self-control/bashfulness/insincerity of feeling/pettiness (delete as appropriate) is something that my esteemed, fellow Lagosian commuters often struggle to achieve. You cannot make it all the way though a trip without seeing some irate drivers stopping their cars right in the middle of the road to hurl abuse at each other like it was an Olympic event.
|First Round||Second Round||Tie Breaker|
|Player 1||Mumu!||I pity your wife.||Look at your face!|
|Player 2||Goat!||I will finish you, o.||You are not a man.||WINNER!|
I know it’s very unchristian of me, but I find a good old fashioned face off in traffic entertaining as all get-out. It turns go-slow from this to this:
Luckily, while the removal of several roundabouts on the Lekki-Epe Expressway has actually gone a long way to alleviate the outrageous levels of traffic, road rage is definitely here to stay.