One hour after joining the queue at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle Station, I was cursing my bad luck. I’d turned down a lift from work to the Accra Mall. “Oh, it’s difficult getting a trotro from Spanner Junction. I’ll just walk to Circle and take one from there. Don’t worry about me. By this time, there are no queues.” That was me, walking away from into what I thought would be a routine hop-on-hop-off. After all, who expects a queue at 9pm on a random weekday?
All the cars seemed to be going everywhere except America House. Our line was growing like a cancerous growth. One trotro would come and park. We’d rush to the gate, only to be told by the driver that he had closed for the night. So early? I always wondered whether this wasn’t meant to taunt desperate commuters. Others were jumping the queue, having heavily bribed other mates and underworld operators in the station. More ticks off the clock.
At that moment, my senses returned to me. Why was I subjecting myself to this torturous wait? Five minutes more and I’d gladly surrender myself to be fleeced by a taxi driver. It was then that two trotros headed for my area made their way to our queue. It was confusion at both entrances. I feared my phone and I would part ways. Either that or my wallet. I kept a hand firmly on both and barged my way through with my shoulders. A mother made her way underneath me, leaving her child outside for the moment. No way would I be left stranded. With a mighty heave, I pushed the lady in front of me in, closely following. I was the last one in.
Within minutes, my body gave in to the fatigue. It had been a long day. Thankfully, I had coins to give to the mate, so I didn’t have to worry my head over forgetting and losing my change. I must’ve been nodding quite badly in my sleep, because just around the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, I felt a sharp elbow in my side. The lady I’d pushed in was either protecting my dignity or having her revenge for my ungentlemanly actions earlier on. I’ll never know.
Sleepers can be so vulnerable. One morning, I entered a relatively empty Accra-bound trotro before sunrise. Sulphur-and-brimstone pastors were pounding our eardrums before the usual daily bore of politics would begin on the radio. A carpenter with his tools in a bag sat beside a respectably-dressed woman. The poor man was snoring away. It wasn’t exactly rattling the frame of the battered trotro, but it was audible enough to be irritating. He was gradually leaning towards her till he found his resting place on her shoulder. His open mouth completed the unflattering pose he struck. She certainly wasn’t amused, judging from the might behind the push that she woke him up with, sending him sprawling against the seat in front of them. Ouch.
One morning, two school children got in. The pace we were moving at was so slow that somewhere along the line, they both fell asleep. I thought it was a ploy to get out of paying their fare. It wasn’t. At Opeibea they were still down and out. Luckily, the mate recognized their school uniforms and knew they had no business staying aboard. “Heh! Won’t you get down?” he bellowed at them in Twi. One rubbed his eyes, obviously having no idea whatsoever where he was. The other wiped his drool with the back of his hand.
The woman in the seat next to mine was also asleep with her toddler in her arms. It took the kid’s screaming to wake her up. The snot around the child’s nose was unbelievable. With a jolt she woke up, almost leaving me a generous souvenir from the child all over my sleeve. Instinctively, I shrieked in dread. To this day, I hate to imagine what the occupants of the trotro had to say about that guy who jerked his arm away so a little babe wouldn’t touch him. If only they knew.
A friend of mine once fell asleep in a trotro and woke up to find a spot of her own saliva on her shoulder. Some creepy guy had his eyes fixated on the spot. She graciously went back to sleep to hide her embarrassment.
That night, what could I possibly have done during my brief sleep to earn me an elbow? Snore? Blurt out shocking confessions, perhaps? Drifting back to dreamland, I decided that what was done was done. Like Adam, my rib could be removed and I’d not feel it. In fact, I slept so soundly, I passed my bus-stop. It was a long walk back to Bridge.