Well, it is not exactly free seeing that you are paying your bus fare but for the sake of my story, just follow the thread.
It all started with me paying too much attention to a conversation that was in no way my business. The lady in question was distraught. She did not understand why Lagos had to be so tough. Nobody seemed to care that she was new to the chaos. Her listener also appeared clueless on how to solve her problem. He kept repeating “It is well, you will get used to It”, like that was supposed to automatically resolve her feeling of alienation. I wanted to interrupt but I was too finely dressed to be asked what my business was so I continued fiddling with my Blackberry (Let her continue sleeping on a bicycle). Alright, alright! That was a little too harsh. If you by chance find Miss J.J.C ( Johnny Just Come), make sure she reads the next paragraphs. It might save her life in Lagos if I do say so myself.
Lagos is and will continue to be the best city in the world (do not take my word for this as I am not widely traveled, YET). The life is a beautiful mumbo jumbo of fun, laughter, pain but ultimately, satisfaction especially after reaching the pinnacle of success. This is where anything is possible; the only place where wishes can be horses and beggars actually have a ball.
The first lecture on how to survive in Lagos starts in a very unassuming place; a DANFO. Every single item in a DANFO is meant to stretch your ability to persevere through the hustle and bustle of LASGIDI. From the moment you decide not to take a taxi to your destination but prefer to ride a DANFO, you need to prepare your mind to face certain on-the-job-training on proper Lagos living. Aye, it promises to be a discomforting ride but Lagos never promised to give you luxury, it only promised success.
The DANFO is nothing like the state government buses popularly called BRT. Everything is Spartan-made only for the strong at heart. The seats consist of three rows of bare wood. The seats are certainly not to help you relax but to train you on the need to work hard to afford your own ride and fast. The three rows MUST accommodate twelve passengers and woe betide you if you dare complain about your space being invaded. That is your lecture on accepting all tribes; stench inclusive. After all, we are ONE NIGERIA !
The only comfortable seat is located in front and is what I call “the first passenger seat”. Make no mistake, the seat between the driver and the first passenger is another test of patience (never sit there, except you desire red marks on your knees as a result of the struggle between the driver and his gear). The first passenger seat is believed to be reserved for VIP. Everyone including my humble self struggles to sit there and would never move to the middle except a uniformed fellow or a visibly disabled person comes along. The seat is priceless not just because you miss out on all the drama that goes on inside the DANFO but most especially the fact that you can enjoy fresh air, free from the smell of sweaty armpits, unwashed mouths and of course the stench of POMO and smoked fish.
The average DANFO conductor is brutish, scar-faced with a signature discoloration of the teeth (caused by too much tobacco and a repulsive attitude to any form of mouth cleanser except chewing sticks). He has no regard for etiquette, care for soaps, clean clothes or any form of deodorant.
If you are a J.J.C, you must first learn to tackle a DANFO conductor. It is like a game where the main guy is faced with many intimidating opponents and He must fight to get to the next level. Yes, you must ensure you scream, flail your arms in the air and threaten fire and brimstone just to get your change. It is compulsory, I repeat, COMPULSORY that you act just as insane if you must get your money back. Being able to tackle a DANFO conductor is your first huge achievement in the act of conquering Lagos. You are now ready for the next stage- market men/women, NEPA officials and of course the OLOPAS (Police men)!
The drama is endless in a DANFO ride and I could go on but then I would exhaust my entire series in one read. Since I spend sixty-five percent of my days in DANFOS, it should be acceptable for me to say I get ninety-five percent of my muse from the rides. I would like to share some of these craziness with you so I enjoin you to jump in with me, let us see Lagos through my eyes, while it lasts!