Even taxis can be a roller coaster

Occasionally, the will to fight vanishes into thin air. With one look at the multitude gathered, like they’re waiting for the five loaves and two fish to be multiplied again, I started looking over them for the nearest taxi. Yes, sometimes, even the most die-hard trotro loyalists have to go beyond.

Frankly, I’ve never been a fan of taxis, especially after I heard that two friends of mine got mugged. They weren’t even alone in the cabs. Anyone who knows KNUST, even slightly, knows that the road from Ayeduase Gate to Unity Hall is more straightforward than two times tables. Tell that to my friend who, within that short space, was graciously offered the choice between his laptop and an early reunion with his ancestors. So yes, I’m spooked. But sometimes, it becomes so necessary that one just has to put inhibition aside and take the plunge.

So, here I am walking towards the taxi, the only one at Bridge. It wasn’t exactly the most beautiful one I could’ve got, but then, I really had no choice. Besides, it looked like rain, and as usual, I had no umbrella. The dropping it is. Mr. Driver was dusting his car with meticulous swipes. Taxi drivers are always cleaning their cars, even in bumper-to-bumper traffic, or dusting the dashboard with the precision of an artist.

Within seconds we had concluded negotiations. As the struggling crowd grew smaller in the rear-view mirror, I could at least relax a bit. I’d almost forgotten how good it felt to have a taxi all to myself: leg room, choice of radio station (where a radio is available, mind you) and controlling the topic of conversation (if desired). Speaking of which, I once heard someone say, “No wonder the economy is in such bad shape. All the people with all the answers are either driving taxis or cutting hair,” but that’s for another post.

We gunned towards a short cut to dodge the traffic. Taxi drivers pride themselves in knowing all the lungu-lungus in town. Bumpy ride, but I didn’t dare use the seatbelt. I lived to regret it the first time I ever did that. I’ll never do it again. In no time the first drops splattered on the windscreen. I looked down to roll up. You guessed it. All that remained there was a stub that used to have a roller covering it. I reached forward and said, “Driver, I want a roller.”

Lucky me. At least, I got one before the heavens descended in all majesty. I half-expected some long winded story about how he had sent the car to the mechanic’s and this and that and this and that ad nauseum. This would usually end with him handing me a spanner to figure out how to roll up the window. In the trotro front seats the stub usually has a hole in it, so you stick a screwdriver in, picked up from under the rags on the dashboard, and turn like your life depended on it. You’d wish you’d spent more time in the gym.

And here I am complaining about rollers.

But for me, the ultimate was when I was in Kumasi. A friend and I were in the back seat on our way from our hostel to campus when the rain came down with no warning. I quickly asked for a roller. The taxi driver looked back at me apologetically and handed me my lifesaver. I was giving it back when my friend said he needed it too. Once again, the driver looked back apologetically and with a stammer that came from nowhere, confessed that the roller wouldn’t work there. He fished around and handed my friend a different roller with a sheepish grin stretched across his face. A different roller for each door. The driver had a quiet laugh, obviously tickled himself.

Automatic windows are not the answer either. I have a silly habit of trying them the moment I see that the taxi’s windows are automatic. Probably because it’s been only about ten years since I saw an automatic window for the first time. Yes, that recently. Most of those don’t work either … except from the drivers’ side. I think it’s just something they like, the feeling of being in control of whether the paying passenger gets wet, hot or a messed up hair-do on a windy Monday morning.

Now, you all know I’m a trotro regular, and don’t know much about what happens in taxis. Maybe you can tell me what it’s like? Similar roller happenings? Awkward taxi moments, maybe?

Except for speeding through almost every red light we reached, the driver spending half the time talking on the phone, and constantly digging for gold in his nasal cavity, it was the kind of trip that could almost get me used to taxis. So, do I trade in the relative pampering of taxis for the chaos of the ‘transport of the people’? Not a chance.

Asomasi.

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About Kwaku Dankwa

By day, I'm an advertising copywriter. That's what I've done all my working life (National Service doesn't count). Husband of Esther, father of Jesse, and servant of Christ. I previously wrote a blog on the dramatic side of public transport in Accra, "The Daily Commute: From Bridge to Ridge." Enjoy.
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13 Responses to Even taxis can be a roller coaster

  1. elorm says:

    Taxi’s have their owntales. Do you remeber the feeling you get whenadriver tells you, “Boss,sorry oo, I’ve dropping. Can you get dwon and get another taxi?” hmmm.

  2. Mambozoma says:

    I read this at a very good time! Honestly, this piece helped me feel better about a very bad day!

    I know it’s all there for everyone to read, but I can’t help digging out my personal favorites,

    “Mr. Driver was dusting his car with meticulous swipes. Taxi drivers are always cleaning their cars, … or dusting the dashboard with the precision of an artist.”

    “I think it’s just something they like, the feeling of being in control of whether the paying passenger gets wet, hot or a messed up hair-do on a windy Monday morning.”

    “… and constantly digging for gold in his nasal cavity …”

    Very good laughs Kwaku! I enjoyed it thoroughly!

  3. Bode says:

    Asomasi,

    i guess you arrived safely. get yourself a car.

  4. Law says:

    hehehehe…and occassionally, when all else fails, the driver offers to hang his dirty duster on your window to save you from the rain.

    Then you wonder which is worse; the dirty smelling wet duster, which touches your skin and gives your nose everything to grieve about, while the rain beats you regardless or the direct rain which beats directly into your face and make you recount the hymn “showers of blessing”?

    A good read, Kwaku…I think you are more gifted than we have given you credit for!

    hehehehehehe

  5. moshi says:

    sorry man, i dont do taxis, well not because i cannt afford them sometimes. well that is the reason. they are sometimes expensive.

    but they come in handy, when all hope is lost at bridge with our usual form of transport, taxis are the next things.

    sometimes i offer to board taxis just to punish trotros. i wonder whether am for real in that reason. but it feels good.

  6. ely says:

    Haahahahah…I do taxi’s. “Dropping’ within the first two weeks of each month, and you don’t need a degree to figure out why, but I manage to convince myself otherwise. These are straightforward rides, little drama except when price issue comes up and the amount always varies depending on how I look that morning and if am carrying a laptop bag….they dont care if it carries papers….u r loaded. On Monday’s and Thursdays @ 7:45am when I happen to be in a taxi I request to listen to “Food for Thought” on Joy FM and I usually get “Madam, sori o, my radio de catch only Peace FM”, “Madam, the pole break so i no de fi catch Joy”….But I do get to work early, neat and relaxed.

    • Kwaku Dankwa says:

      Funny one there, Ely. That’s gotta be the lamest excuse I’m gonna hear in a while. Don’t catch Joy FM? On my way to Kumasi once Joy FM was still good way beyond Suhum!

      Good for you with good old droppings. You should read some of my experiences on trotros in my earlier posts. Actually, I read them myself and wonder why I haven’t ditched them for a more comfortable way to commute. Eye asem oo…

  7. Kwaku Dankwa says:

    Elorm, you don’t mean it! Get down and take another ride ‘cos he has a dropping? Heh, like we’ll fight. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating here, but like it won’t be funny kraa.

    Law, you can see from my picture that I’ve actually been in worse than the duster. This was polythene that they used to cover the windows. I couldn’t do much than take a picture and have a quiet laugh to myself. But then, this was no Accra.

    Moshi, you’re trying to get back at trotros? Well, as long as it makes you happy. Hehehehe…

  8. DANNIE says:

    My favorite is when you bargain, agree on a price and once you’re almost at your destination they start to complain about how long the trip really was, how bad the traffic was and how bumpy the road was (as if it is my fault that that’s how the terrain is here in our beloved Ghana).

    I love the comforts of dropping but can’t stand the annoying whining men behind the wheel for the most part.

  9. Guy Lou says:

    This text started well. And ended poorly.

  10. Gabbsta (Mwalimu) says:

    i do have one that i really cherish, i was in kumasi and i stopped a taxi to take me somewhere (cant remember where), so after negotiating, i asked if the car had sounds the driver said “haaa Jack paaa, naawuaaah wo shwe me car yia, enwum wo mu papa” pardon my twi but you do get the idea. so i sat in and the driver with the most mischievous smile i have even seen started singing and (i bet you cant guess) it was all old tunes from paa bobo and adofo and the like, i was really pissed but about 5 minutes into the ride i actually began to enjoy the songs plus he did one of my favorites (Aso bo kyere fa wonsa b3 wo m3 ni) an all time classic. the dude sang till i got to my destination and then he was like “se me yeadi3” i just shook my head and all i could say was i love this city. Oseikrom for live.
    Anyway interesting piece, did he give you some of the gold or he was still galamseying when you got down

  11. Ama says:

    Guy Lou, this is not constructive criticism. You should explain what was so good or bad about it. I also think your comment started badly and ended badly ; )

  12. Lordrah says:

    I agree with Ama with regards to Guy’s comment because I think Kwaku started well and ended the same.

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