It was 6 a.m on one of the numerous Mondays when residents of Lagos engage in their own version of Fast and Furious as they head out to their various places of work. I happened to be one of such people. I was armed with my well ironed white shirt, black trousers, pair of my favourite brown shoes and office bag. I marched straight to the bus stop to get a bus to C.M.S. Usually , i like to leave really early on Mondays because of the mad rush associated with Mondays in Lagos. First bus was headed in my direction luckily for me so i jumped in quickly.
“Henter with your shange o. If you nor get shange, don’t henter my mutor o!!!” Yelled the bus conductor as other passengers got in.
As we embarked on the journey, a passenger, a well dressed guy i must note, who apparently joined the bus way before my bus stop kept asking for his change from the conductor who kept pleading with him to exercise some patience. This back and forth continued till the guy told the conductor he wouldn’t want to forget collecting his change and that the conductor should do all he can to gets it. Conductor asked for more patience again. Again the guy asked, this time his voice become louder and he sounded angry:
“GUY YOU DON DEY COLLECT MONEY SINCE. FIND MY CHANGE GIVE NOW!? AH!”
The conductor lost it too and began shouting:
“Ogbeni i no get shange. Wetin you want make i do? why you sef no carry shange when you wan enter mutor? O den pariwo leyan lori anyhow”
To which the passenger replied
“But i tell you when i enter sey na N1,000 dey my hand, you sey make i enter. Find my change for me before i reach my bus stop”
Conductor: “Ehn? If i no see change give you, e no get wetin i go do. On top how much sef?”
Guy: “On top my own money na him you dey follow me talk like this? Guy no use me play o”.
Conductor: “Oga nothing you go do. Try anything, you go collect beating this morning”.
I think the conductor shouldn’t have said that because the guy lost it.
“You say wetin? You go do wetin? Dem no born you well. Dem no born your whole generation well to try. Call all of dem together, dem no many reash. Shey na because i wear white shirt and black trouser come tuck in, you think sey i normal? Guy, i no normal o. As i dey here so, i dey crase and i go show you today. Make i reach my bus stop first”
We were on Eko bridge when this was going on. All the other passengers were just silently observing. In my head, I was hoping this wasn’t going to end up as one of the usual Lagos wanna be fight scenarios. Plenty noise and no real action. A little Monday morning action wouldn’t be bad, as long as i wasn’t involved.
As soon as we got to Leventis bus stop, the guy came down from the bus and when he asked for his change, the conductor made a mistake, he pushed the guy. Before we could even blink, the first punch had landed on the conductor’s face. It took him by surprise as he had underestimated the passenger. Seeing that it was now a fight, conductor now started dancing around like boxers do in the ring while saying in Yoruba “O gba mi loju sa?” (You really hit me?). The issue was the conductor was trying hard to float like a butterfly but stinging like a bee was a big issue for him. He hadn’t even gained control of the floating game when two more punches landed in quick succession on his face.
“God punish you.Where my change? you say you go beat me. E no go better for you”
At that point i realised that this guy was truly not well. Like he really meant it. I couldn’t imagine that the guy, dressed the way he was was going to turn gangster in a flash the way he did. This is what Lagos teaches us most times. To be able to go mad quickly. To not be bullied or allowed to be bullied by anyone at all (Well, except Soldiers and Mopol). We brag about not being well. It is a scaremongering tactic embraced by Lagosians to deal with our daily lives when someone tries to bully us. It is normal to hear someone brag about how unwell they are or how they are not normal. To strangers they may not understand, but we know what that means.
What we don’t remember is that there is a secret to this style of survival in Lagos. A wise man once said “Take heed that thou art careful when thou displayest thine crase in Lagos, for thou knowest not if where thy crase endeth is where the other’s crase begins” Selah