Drama happened inside Danfo,1 yesterday.
As we waited for the bus to fill up, one of the last two passengers got in and mentioned where she would want to alight, and the agbèrò2 told her to hop in.
If you’ve ever lived in Lagos, you’ll know there is a subtle difference between ‘official’ and ‘non-official’ bus stops. Official bus stops are government-allotted spaces for stops, while unofficial bus stops range from street junctions, traffic points, and anywhere the passenger says “Driver, ó wà”. And of course, Lastma3 officials are always ready to help obstinate drivers discern between the two.
As we approached Maryland, she quickly raised a notice for her unofficial bus stop, enough to give the driver time to prepare. There was always a bit of traffic there too, so for all intent and purpose, it shouldn’t be a tussle. Or so, she thought.
Immediately, the driver retorted “There’s no bus stop there o. I no dey stop.” And the pleas and argument began.
First was the case of the agbèrò2 that had told her to hop in. Those agbèròs2 are known for hardly listening to your specific requests before signaling you in. They’ll agree to anything just to get the bus filled up, and thereafter leave you to deal with the driver by yourself. So it was no fault of hers.
For every plea and accusation, the driver maintained his stand and added a few ounces of curses. Soon, the entire bus joined in support of the lady. And when he got to the closest official bus stop to the lady’s request, he stopped for only a fraction of a minute.
“You go come down, àbí you no go come down? I no dey stop for that place. Bustop no dey there. If dem hold me now, you no go give me money to pay them”.
“Oga Abeg, traffic dey, just stop for me small. Abeg”, she pleaded.
“Oga, help am now, them no go catch you.”, another woman joined.
With that, the driver drove off to the next bus stop, a distance that was three times farther, ignoring the now incessant curses and blames.
As she came down, you could see the anger and disgust on her face.
“E no go better for you. As you wan make me Waka today, na God go punish you”, she shouted as the driver drove off unbothered.
I heard the pain in her voice and kept wondering how she could have avoided this. Who was to blame? What could she have done differently? The first bus stop would have taken her about two minutes to get to her stop, but there she was, with nothing less than about ten to fifteen minutes walk, under the scorching sun.
For every thought that I had, one stood out. And it was the fact that the driver actually said he wasn’t going to stop there. And that is so important to note.
We can blame the driver as we wish, and ascribe to him the disdain and disrespect we accord every commercial Danfo driver, but one thing was clear here: “He actually said he wasn’t stopping”. But the lady made her decision, hoping that he would, or cajole, bully, and insult him to a stop, rather than alight when she could and walk the rest.
And I’ve realized, that in life, and relationships, ‘People tell us what they will do or won’t do, but we often don’t listen.’
People tell us where they are with us emotionally. People tell us what they want from us. We hear, but more too often, we project our own hope and expectations on them. We think, maybe, perhaps, things will change; maybe, perhaps, they will want us differently later; maybe, they just haven’t made up their minds yet.
But they tell us.
They tell us they’ll be emotionally unavailable. That they are not ready. They tell us they don’t value us as we deserve. They tell us they are not willing to love us the way we want. They tell us they are not so big on communication. They tell us we will always be the second option on their priority scale.
We hear, but for some reason, we hope, against all hope, that they really don’t mean it that way, that they are not serious with it, that they are just joking, that they will somehow change, that they only need some time, that they only need to see how it goes, that we may one day be able to convince them with our awesomeness.
And we set ourselves up for heartbreak.
We may blame them for being so emotionally immature, we may blame them for not being considerate, and we may blame them for breadcrumbing, but we must take responsibility for our part, for the risk we took, for our hope, and for the result. Because the truth is they told us, sometimes, in clear language, and other times, in unspoken words. But they did, and we heard.
Yes, the agbèrò2 may have misled us, and the driver may be inconsiderate and obstinate, maybe even unreasonable, but there came a point we were confronted with the reality of our situation. He told us he isn’t stopping there. He maintained that his goals and ours do not align. We heard, but we stayed. We had an opportunity to alight and rid ourselves of his ridiculousness, but for hope or whatnot, we stayed.
And hope is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s the only thing that makes life worth living. But intentional responsibility, that one can not be done for us.
In my own moment, my friend told me:
“Don’t see this as a heartbreak. You knew what was coming. You knew she wasn’t down with you for the long haul. You stayed to enjoy the moment. You hoped. Now, move on”.
I am the ImisiOluwa; that we may have the strength to take responsibility for our emotional wellbeing.
 A privately-owned commercial bus that makes up the informal transport system in Lagos. It is painted in the yellow Lagos transport color and is often a Volkswagen van, converted for that purpose.
 Assistants at Carparks who help call attention to loading buses, and manage the general day to day running of the park, including collection of fares from bus drivers.
 Lagos State Traffic Management Authority is a Lagos State-owned agency under the Ministry of Transportation. The agency was established on the 15th of July, 2000 to transform the state transportation system to ensure free flow of traffic in the state and also reduce road accidents.
Photo Credits: Emeka Ogboh
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