The Taxi Driver & I

January 16, 2013 was a Wednesday and that evening, I had just finished watching a movie at Genesis Cinema, Port Harcourt (PH).  This was my 3rd time at the movies for the week and I decided that I had to save some money, so I was NOT going to use an ajebo cab but rather a pakorized taxceee >:D .  The target? Rather than shell out N1500 back to my PH digs I was going to low-ball it and go for N700.

Unsurprisingly, as soon as I started descending the steps out of the cinema, the cabbies started swarming around me like bees to a honeypot.  I was unmoved as I softly but firmly told them where I was going and my budget.  Almost immediately, the sea of cabbies parted and I was left to walk pass with my “bad market”.   I shrugged at their loss 😛 as I walked further down the street where I was sure to find a not so befitting taxceee that would embrace my budget.  I didn’t hear him the first time when he called out but surely did when he called out again, “Sista, I will carry you, no wahala”.   “Huh!” O_o, I replied untrustingly, “My budget is N700 O!”.  “No wahala, madam, make we go” he answered.  Yippee!  I thought to myself, target achieved.   As I followed him to his vehicle, I was quite surprised to see him unlocking a car I categorized as a “cab” and certainly not a taxcee.   I stressed my price again, and he nodded in the affirmative.

As we started our journey, it crossed my mind that just maybe, this cabbie was a kidnapper who was ready to take my immediate low price for a future high ransom 😮 .  taxi driverHowever, I had done my necessary checks and thus shoved the thought out of my head as I tried to relax.  Still, I decided to send the cab’s license plate number to my sister just in case ;).  While doing so, my cabbie turned to me and said the words that every chic dreads to hear, “You look familiar”.

 

“No, no, NO!” screamed my inner babe.  Still concentrating very much on my phone, I murmured a non-committal, “Okay” in response.  Not in the least bit discouraged, he went on to ask, “Didn’t you go to FUTO?”   My left eyebrow jerked up questioningly.   “Project Management, right?” he further asked.   By this time, he had my full attention…. scrunching up his face in deep thought, “I think, if I remember correctly, your name is..Oge..no, no…Ugochi!” .  With this pronouncement, my jaw drops and I am like “WHO ARE YOU?”   He chuckles and tells me his story.

He tells me his name and how he was in Fed. Uni. Tech. Owerri (FUTO) the same time I was.  He was supposed to graduate with my set but unfortunately he had an extra year and graduated a year later in 2005 with a second class lower (2.2) in Transport Management Technology (B.Tech).   Okay, that explains how he knew my name, I thought to myself, but how come he’s a Cabbie?  So, I inquired, “After school, what happened?”

A momentarily pause, as he made a sharp left turn in the road.  He went on to explain how after leaving school, he went for NYSC and then tried very hard to get employment with Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and some other transport related establishments in Nigeria to no avail.  After 3 or so years of consistent rejections, he decided to try his luck abroad in Dubai.  Regrettably, his luck was not much better in the UAE, albeit he managed to salvage a living by being a cab driver in the city of Dubai.  By 2012, he had saved enough money to buy a car which he brought back to Nigeria and started his one-man cab business in Port-Harcourt.   While listening to his story and others he told of fellow FUTO-ites with 1st classes,  2.1s and 2.2s who were still unemployed, my countenance ran a wide spectrum as series of thoughts ran through my head: happiness, shock, disbelief, pity, anger, shame, humility and finally, a deep sadness 😦 .   Observing my demanour, he tried to change the topic by asking, what I did and what brought me to the Garden City.   I lied by omission (God, please forgive me!) and told him the lesser of two evils, how I was into buying and selling and that I had come to see my girlfriend who just had a baby.  He was kind as he called me a good friend.  My answer was a shrug as the sadness refused to be lifted.

By this time, we had reached my gate, I gave him a N1,000 note and thanked him for the ride as I alighted from his cab.  He reached for his wallet to I assume find me change but I told him not to bother, he tried to insist but I refused.  He smiled his thanks and waved farewell as he pulled away from the gate.  As I gingerly walked into my friend, Bi’s house I searched for her with tears in my eyes.  I found her in her bedroom and fell on her bed crying softly:'( .   I told her the story and she knowing me, diagnosed that I was super-depressed and too much of an ajae-butter for this country. :/

Trying to rationalize my “super-depression”, I went down memory lane and it occurred to me that this was the 3rd time this kind of incident has occurred in my life that I could recall.  The first, was when I was just a 200 level student on holidays in Festac Town, Lagos.  danfo bus conductor

During my visit, I happened to enter a bus in which the bus conductor was someone I had attended JAMB lesson with.  As I engaged him in conversation (without any awkwardness) during the ride, he told me he was still trying to get his JAMB.  I sincerely wished him all the best.

 

The second time was when I had started my first post-NYSC job with First Bank.  Having worked all day at the cashier’s till, I was bone tired and grumpy 😡 as I caught my 6th bus of the day for my last leg of my journey.  The conductor was being silly and had refused to give me my change after two reminders probably hoping that I would forget it with him.  My next step was to take up the matter with the danfo bus driver, as I voiced my complaint to the driver, he turned to look at me and behold the danfo driver was a young man I had done a holiday job with at a business centre during one of my long vacations while in secondary school.  I was in so much shock that I eventually left my change with the silly conductor 😦 .

As I thought through all three incidences later on that night in Bi’s guest room, it occurred to me that I was indeed extremely lucky to be where I was in life.  It could have been me as the bus conductor, bus driver or even the cabbie.  Going down on my knees, I repented of my lack of contentment and ingratitude, having asked God to help all His children and I thanked God for placing me where I am today.

Your comments as usual are welcome.

* Images are not mine.

42 thoughts on “The Taxi Driver & I

    • My sister. Let us thank God o! I recall the lunch song of my primary school days, “Some have food but cannot eat, some can eat but have no food. I have food and I can eat. Glory be to thee O Lord. Amen”

  1. Uche says:

    Wooooowwwww……… So touching, while asking for more we shouldn’t forget to be thankful for the ones we’ve already being given.

  2. Oise says:

    Hmmm! Captivating story, made more so because I never expected you to write something this emotional. Also very Nigerian and easy to relate with. Lol @ “You look familiar”. Looking forward to your next piece. Well done!

  3. nnamdi says:

    I applaud the gentlemen referred to in the 3 instances for being man enough to fend for themselves with dignity and not resorting to begging or getting involved in some nefarious activity or the other.
    In Nigeria, we are used to not working for our daily bread but rather relying on handouts from our parents. Or relatives simply because we have a degree and are waiting for our dream job. Those abroad that work as security persons,cabbies, or in one of the fast food outlets while still focusing for something are no lesser individuals. I personally have been involved in similar situations at challenging times in my life…driving cars down to the east for a fee, making and selling slippers while in school..almost driving a danfo at some point…today I am no lesser a. human being…the problem starts when u allow the situation depress u and make u not raise ur head above sea level…I have experienced such too, where a schoolmate was a cabbie @ park in Enugu;lost his dad and using family car to survive…we all should with dignity and courage rise to life challenges!! Thank you!

    • Namo, you are so right. I remember selling notebooks, cards etc while in school. I applaud all those who are working diligently and with dignity at whatever their hands find to do. May God honour your hard work and increase you IJN. Thanks for sharing bro.

  4. Kachi says:

    *Tearsmile* As I read through sincerely, I travelled through my memory… At the end, I… I.. Really found reasons to thank God again for everything, It is of the Lord that shows mercy!. Our life, health, status, has been a function of God’s Favour and Grace (A preacher said that Grace is God-in-Your-race.)! Eccl. 9: 11 “I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time…” More of His Grace we pray!!!

  5. Stanley says:

    Awwww, your story on The Taxi & I was very touching and quite intriguing to find out that all your humbling encounters were with those involved in commuting business. Nice one!

  6. Obinna says:

    Good write up, and thanks for not turning your nose up on “honest hard working men”, The tone of The taxi driver and I sounds like a metaphor for “My friend and I”.

    • Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Turning up my nose was not an option, like I said it could have been me. On the tone, you caught it, nice! My mind frame at the time of writing was more of “The King and I”. So you hearing “My friend and I” is quite good. You are one smart cookie 😉 !

  7. Ifeanyi says:

    1 Thes 5:18 In all things give thanks to God. No matter one’s state in life, it pays to be contented bcos ur condition unknown to u, is definitely better than that of Mr.X out there. Nice piece Ugo.

  8. Love the story. I applaud the taxi driver chap for his bold decision to make something of his life despite the frustration of today’s society. In fact the real lesson from the story is that there is still an opportunity out there, we just sometimes get stuck looking down the wrong alley.

    • Wow! All the guys are feeling their fellow guys on this matter. I am loving the brotherhood <3. I think there are several lessons to harvested from the story, the more comments I get, the more lessons I learn even as the writer of this tale. Thanks so much for dropping a line bro.
      Do come around again for more tales. Ciao!

  9. chijioke says:

    Life sometimes gives us what we don’t expect but the ability not to give up is a great virtue. It is still not late for the guys. Destinies can only be delayed but not denied. Nice write up ugo . Thank you andGod bless you

  10. Esuru says:

    Reading this has been a nice coincidence, cos as I sat in traffic this night and watched the hawkers I started to feel bad about complaining about sitting in traffic when some people were still hustling to make a living at that time of the night. I tried to make myself feel better by attributing it to the differences in our educational opportunities. However, this article completely invalidates that line of thinking. Thanks Ugochi for setting me back on track. God’s (Grace X Mercy ) = Esuru
    Also thumbs up to the young man for having the courage to identify himself in this age of ‘packaging’.

  11. Uju O (nee Nnama) says:

    Oh wow! Ugochi you write with such grace and charisma! So very engaging, I am hooked! Where is your book??? Hope it is in the works o!

    So much to be learned from this story you shared. I initially felt a tiny bit of sadness, but that was quickly overcome by one of great pride..see determination! This man is the symbol of success, and I have no doubt that he will ultimately achieve success in a great fashion. When road blocks came, he kept moving, he could have been lost on the streets after NYSC. He could still be hustling in Dubai, but no…the man has a vision…and he is taking the little steps to reach it.

    While the other taxi drivers (who are prob driving for others) stayed away, he stepped up…for a penny (naira in this case) saved is better than a penny lost. At the end of the day, he prob took home way more than others. It is his own cab, so all earnings go to him alone.

    Truth may be that this man is better off being a business owner than an employee. The only way he may have really understood this is by going through the process. Sometimes these processes are necessary, to shape us up, and push us towards the path of our God given destinies. He may have been doing midnight prayers for job years ago, because he could only see the present, but God who sees all, was saying “just wait, and walk into your future”.
    Its only a matter of time before he owns a big transporting company, I am sure even now, he probably has several cabs and drivers operating for him. Truth is in life, everyone has a story. Life is about choices, we sometimes miss it, because we don’t really know our identity. Grace always abounds, when we step forward…

    • Grace…..such a miracle. Thanks so much for the encouragement, I concur with all you have said. On the book, stay tuned. May I recommend you also read Fatal Attraction, Dubai version. Thanks for dropping a line or 10. 😉 Much appreciated.

  12. Chi' Garricks says:

    Hey Ugochi, I enjoyed reading this. Not only was your writing very good, your storytelling was superb as well. More importantly, it’s a piece that forces one to think, and to be grateful to God for the many things we take for granted. As scripture says, the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong. Thanks. And once again, well done.

  13. Peter Asemota says:

    Quite touching for the faint hearted. I think there is dignity in driving a cab, even with an Msc, especially if you own it. So rather than sympathise over his perceived condition and his missed opportunity at the civil service or some average job (wearing a tie and earning 80k/month), Be glad he owns a car today and could own a fleet in future.
    Trust me if he has grand dreams he too might feel sorry for you.But then, how much do you think a cabbie makes a day? lol

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