Less than halfway through the journey, I was laughing at every story that poured of this guy’s mouth. It was the way he told them that made them so hilarious. His voice reminded me of Agya Koo’s, though he looked nothing like the comedian. He had the most honest look on his face as he spoke with disarming sarcasm. Talk about the tonic for a good day.
6th October happened to be my birthday, and it would take nothing short of a taxi strike to get me into a trotro. I wouldn’t risk turning up at work on my big day with a rip right down the length of my trousers. Any chance of a change of mind quickly evaporated when I stepped out of the gate thirty minutes later than I usually do. And to confirm that my decision was heaven-backed, an empty taxi turned the corner at just that moment.
The unending conversation started when he scoffed at the news report that it was National Teachers’ Day. “Tweaa,” he spat out. “As school-children in the village, when you were going to the public toilet and you even saw your teacher there, you’d take your business into the bush. You’d have too much respect for your teacher!” Before he could let me form a mental picture of a scared kid holding his bum in desperation while scurrying away, he went on. “Today, students and teachers are drinking akpeteshie together.” I could just see a science teacher downing tot after tot with the cupboard boy while laughing in a drunken stupor.
Then, to buttress his extreme point that small town teachers are rendering a national disservice, he dropped a bombshell. With that level tone and straight face I’d already got used to, he talked unashamedly about how he seduced the daughter of a chop bar operator’s daughter. He would reveal her confession that her own teacher had initially had his fair share. Thing is, anyone who’s done National Service in the hinterlands may know a similar story or two.
While we dodged traffic, Agyeman turned his focus to ministers of the gospel. “Any pastor with a guy name is not a serious pastor.” He let it linger in my head for a while before continuing his offensive. “Take someone like this Kumchacha.” The way he said it got me laughing. “And Jesus One Touch …” He was listing our self-styled men of God and the allegations leveled against them.
He went on. “Look at my teenage daughter. I was shocked to find out she’s been using her lunch money to buy agaata for her classmates!” He pondered whether he should give her less. There was always something to talk about.
The journey back home served a treat too. A work colleague was taking me to Imperial Peking for birthday dinner. From the very beginning, the taxi driver was a handful. The radio was blaring in the back and the presenter was frankly making a nuisance of himself. “Driver, please reduce the volume,” we pitched. He was busy shouting into his phone while we tore down the Nima Highway at break-neck speeds. “Driver! The volume!” We were shouting at him by now. He finally asked, “The radio? I should turn it up?” I just laughed in amazement.
He made so many phone calls, we wondered whether there was some on-going promotion. While in traffic at the airport intersection, he got down to stretch and knock on his tyres a few times, only for him to come rushing back in when the lights went green. Getting him to move into the outer lane was a contest between the two of us to see who could scream loudest. My colleague’s patience with this fellow was wearing thin. While she animatedly told him to turn right into the restaurant, I was trying hard not to erupt in fits of laughter.
It appears that taxi drivers in Accra constitute a whole world on their own. The other day, one told me he was breaking off his two-year relationship. After hanging up his phone, he turned to me and said, “She says she just called to say hi.” This was after she told him not to call her again because he didn’t have ten cedis to give her once. “Massa, I’ve spent over GH¢4,000 and I’ve never even touched her! Her phone got spoilt and I bought her a new one. She was so excited,” he lamented. “She was on Facebook, and I even jokingly asked her whether she was looking for a husband there.” I felt his pain, but frankly, I couldn’t get over his talking about Facebook. No offense, but he didn’t look like the type.
Give a taxi driver an inch, and he’ll talk forever.