Few days ago, I wrote Esprit de Corps (part 1) about the military-checkpoint-rule and its application to "bloody Civilians" it was a veiled urge to security persons to uphold the law they are sworn to protect.
Well on Tuesday I had a church program for 4pm somewhere in Piyakasa, Abuja. I was undeniably late because it was already 5pm when my taxi dropped me off at Dantata bridge. I immediately looked around for one of the trusty motorbikes usually stationed at the bridge to convey people to Galadimawa roundabout. To my consternation, for the first time in living memory, not a single bike was in sight!
I was beside myself.
I couldn't handle the long trek to Galadimawa roundabout from that bridge because of the sweltering heat and honestly I was a bit under the weather. And even minus both of those factors, I was exceedingly late.
If you live in Nigeria then you probably balk at flagging down private cars because no one knows who's who right? Same here.
Well while I was standing around, waiting for the never-arriving bike, it occurred to me that with every passing second, the program I was rushing for was fast coming to an end.
I swallowed my wariness in a hurry and proceeded to study passing cars, willing my mind to accept any one of them. Finally I saw a silver-colored, somewhat decrepit car approaching. I was going to let it pass, but at last, I summoned courage and flapped my hand as eagerly as a chicken's wing at the sight of breakfast.
The car hurtled past me, obviously intending to ignore my signal. I quickly dropped my hand, smarting from the affront. To my surprise, the driver pulled over just a little ahead. I hurriedly dashed to join him, my pique forgotten as I clambered into the front seat and smiled my gratitude.
My buttocks had barely touched the seat before he snapped at me to fasten my seatbelt.
My mouth puckered in silent protest as I did as I was told. I HAD been going to do just that, I mused mutinously. There hadn't been any need to bite off my head.
Anyway as soon as he began to drive again, my ire vanished as though it had never been.
Unfortunately, rush-hour traffic was already building as we neared the roundabout. Traffic was heavy and of course the impatient drivers that ply Abuja roads kept shoving and thrusting as each tried to overtake the other. Curses rent the air. I choked back a horrified giggle as one Igbo brother crudely invited fire to roast the driver of the car behind him who was tailgating him. "Chineke gbaa kwa gi oku!" He yelled. 😂
As I watched the drama all around, it belatedly occurred to me that my driver was the only person who wasn't trying to cut the line. He joined the very end of the longest of three queues, his face calm as a lake.
I shot him an alarmed glance from underneath my lashes. I was normally all for being law-abiding but today I needed a 007 driver in my boat... er, car if I was to meet my program. My driver was no 007; he was the very soul of patience and I reasoned mournfully that at this rate, I would be lucky if I arrived the church in time for closing prayers!
A sharp guy to the right of us suddenly swerved roughly and overtook five cars forcing his own vehicle through a narrow opening. All five cars plunged in after him at once thus opening up a wide stretch of road ahead of us. My heart lifted and I shot an expectant look at my driver. If he took that route, I could be out of this traffic in five minutes and on my way to church, I thought happily.
The man kept waiting patiently at the back of the line. He didn't even move a muscle. 😩😩😩
Other drivers from behind immediately dived into the wide open road ahead of us and my heart sank in consternation. What was he? New to the country?
I turned to urge him to mosey on just as he leaned out of his window and barked at the drivers on his side of the road, "If you don't take your time, I'll book you."
I did a double-take. Book kwaa?
And that's when I saw it! People of Zion, yours truly was riding shotgun with a Road Safety officer, Special Marshall. I stifled a groan
He was the law itself! He kept so much space between him and the back of the car in front that several other hopeful drivers kept trying to edge in; he wasn't in a hurry to cut corners and escape traffic and he certainly wasn't going to drive above 20km or so per hour.
By the time he finally escaped traffic, I was fighting back tears of frustration. I was so late I doubted I would even meet anyone in the church apart from the security men.
I weakly motioned to where I wanted to alight.
He informed me that that was not a safe spot. He needed to "clear properly."
Suffice it to say, by the time he finally found a good spot to park, my eyes were red. I exited the vehicle with the little grace I could muster, thanked him through my tear-choked throat and finally began the five minutes trek from where he had stopped me back to where he SHOULD HAVE stopped me so I could finally pick yet another bike to church.
I was too weak to fume; I just wanted to seat in a corner and pout. In the end, I realised God was listening when I lamented that officers made the laws and expected Civilians to obey while they broke them.
I'd met a law-abiding officer for the first time in a long while that Tuesday, just when I didn't need one; and I wasn't amused.
Morale of the story? Be careful what you wish for coz apparently the Fates are always listening.
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