I come from a very flashy city. One of those cities where rules are really suggestions. Yes, I know you’ve heard that cliché before but we must have been the inventors of the cliché. I kid you not! For example:
One rule has been, do not tint your car windows. It is for your own safety. Our translation? It would not be nice not to tint your car windows but go ahead and do it if it makes you feel better and you are not doing anything illegal in there. In fact, make it so dark that you’d need to get out to access the rear view of your car while driving (disclaimer: I do not, never have and never will fall into this category :D) Another one. Don’t answer your phone while driving. It is unsafe for both you and other road users. Translation? You can answer just this once. It could be a huge deal coming your way or even better, the party of a lifetime invite! Just don’t make it a habit if you can.
A more spectacular one. You walk into a supermarket, pick a trolley and start filling it up with groceries. You are doing a good job with two or maybe 4 items. You then decide to leave your trolley unattended for all of one second to pick an item on the shelf. Now, an unspoken rule of shopping says, please don’t touch my trolley. It didn’t fill itself up with groceries and just sit there waiting for you to pick it up. You, my friend just made the textbook shopping 101 mistake, which you realise when you turn around to find your trolley gone. Now I know what you are thinking… What’s the big deal? You can re-pick things right? After all, you had not paid for them. Wrong! Do you even begin to understand the mental preparation and energy required to go grocery shopping? Don’t even get me started on drawing up that list! And woe unto you if you are doing it round about late afternoon when everyone is all exhausted, hungry and trying to shop on their way home. This lot sees every other shopper resembling their extremely annoying boss. O and if you are like me you will once in a while want to perform parently duties and drag a 4 year old along, who believes mummy can buy anything in the store (which she better if she wants me to finish dinner tonight – yes, unfortunately I’m still at the she-cares-so-lets-blackmail-her stage). Why is she otherwise always telling me that she is trying to make money if not buy me things? I’m not a violent person. Heh. But I promise you, had I caught the person who decided to pick my trolley then, we’d have been doing a dance right at the tissue aisle.
Anyway, back to rules. I know I’m old. No need to remind me. I have however, just learn’t how to drive unaccompanied at this ripe old age of…. (don’t hold your breath here). I know all the rules, which means I can maneuver quite easily from point A to point B. But what did I say at the beginning? Rules don’t apply around here. Especially not traffic ones! In my false sense of macho feeling, I decide to try out my newly acquired talent by visiting a very busy street in Nairobi. For those of us who frequent the city, you understand what I mean by busy. Picture if you will….. In-front of you there is a vehicle with an “L” sign. We can safely conclude that one is not moving anywhere any time this year. On your left, there’s a trailer (whose driver is way up top you can’t actually see them, but you hope they are there) trying to get past to join a highway. On your right, there’s a 14 seater squeezing right on your door handle hooting their way to the next bus stop before the competition. At the back, there is the 46 seater (20 something sitting, a few sitting on their laps and some few more standing) pushing you ahead. At this point really, movement is determined by other people, never you. You learn to just carry a good book to read as you get dragged along. No need to clutch the steering wheel when you are in such a situation. You will just be tiring it out.
Now imagine with all my good manners (I’ve been known to sport some every now and then) I’m busy trying to indicate (which no one cares about), use hand signal (my hand almost gets chopped off by a zooming car), hell had I had access to smoke signal I’d have gone for that too, and shockingly, even my smile does not work to get these drivers to give me way! I had tried just about everything! I was panicked, sweating and marooned! All that was left was to switch off the ignition, sit back and be confused and lost. A good ton of insults were hurled at me but seeing as I have a wonderful mechanism of blocking out noise (learnt from hearing a 4 year old yell your name 6 times in the space of 1 minute), I heard nothing. I was in my safe place. In my head. Till a cop shows up and wants to know whether I have been drinking! First, let me tell you it’s in the middle of the day. Yes, I know that doesn’t answer the question. Second, it’s a weekday. Not helping my case here? Ok, third, I do not drink (true story).
Anyway, a few unpleasantries get exchanged, money (as usual) changes hands and I’m well on my way home. Suffice it to say, I have become an offensive (very offensive) driver and I’m loving it thanks to that experience!