A few weeks ago, on my way back home from work, I encountered a little fiasco afar off. People were gathered, chanting different things. Some were stuck on “Ole” – thief in yoruba – others on “Kill him” and a lot less begging – almost silently – for mercy. I asked some passerby what was stolen and he said gala. I walked away bewildered.
I live pretty much at the end of Lagos and I work on the Island. On a day with minimal traffic, this commute would take about 3 hours if I left my house later than 6:30am. So, in order to spend less time commuting and get into work early enough, I leave my house at 5 a.m to catch the bus and spend the time sleeping.
This morning, I sat in the front of the bus, next to the driver – asleep as usual. Suddenly, the driver taps me and hands me money, I wake up, collect it, hold it and go back to sleep. He does this two more times before I realize he’s handing me passengers’ fares as they were passed from behind the bus so he could concentrate on driving.
After everyone had paid, he told me the expected total was 5,500 and asked me to count what I had. I had 5,400. With that, he shouted “Who never pay? Money never complete”… I drifted off to sleep again…
Suddenly, I’m awakened by angry shouting passengers and a parked bus. You see, from the 5,400 accumulated, two passengers still intended to collect change summing up to 900! ONE WHOLE THOUSAND NAIRA WAS MISSING!
We spent the next twenty minutes trying to find four people who hadn’t paid. Everyone swore they had. The driver said he wouldn’t move an inch till he got his complete sum. They all continually screamed in frustration. I sat still, blank eyed, wondering why I woke up in the first place. Someone suggested we help the situation and contribute 50 each for the driver to make up for the lost amount. I dipped my hand in the side zip of my bag – where I put my change – to contribute my quota. I found a stray 1,000 naira note…
You know the rest of the story.