It was late. Perhaps, too late. Too late, certainly, to find a trotro. I kept on asking myself what on earth I was doing in a taxi at a quarter to midnight trying to get home. This was by no means a beautiful cab. But at this ungodly hour, you take what comes. “Driver, which way is this?” I asked. This time, he ignored me. In the first three replies, he hadn’t convinced me that we’d get anywhere near where I thought we should’ve been. I felt the first strains of fear creep up my spine. The night was playing out in my mind in a variety of ways, none of which was pleasant. Force the door open and roll out, I thought. Not in this neighbourhood, home boy. Now I was talking to myself. That’s never a good sign. Mr. Driver was bobbing his head violently to each beat from his stereo.
It was dark. Very dark. The streets were isolated, except for the occasional night dweller doing nothing in particular outside. Still the music played. In his mind, the driver must’ve been in the club. Or just psyching himself up for a regular night mugging. “Driver …” I started, before shutting up. Was this the point where he’d park by the road and pull his pistol from underneath his seat? No doubt, his goons would be waiting to rob me naked. A lump appeared in my throat. Get a grip, man!
Finally, I’d had enough of the tricks my mind was playing. Just as soon as I was going to demand to get down in the middle of nowhere – never mind how unwise such a decision would be – we joined the George Bush Motorway. Relief flooded my spirit in torrents. I noticed for the first time that I sat back. Within minutes, I was tapping to the music. My guess was that this was a driver with a wild side. He knew every song, even right up to pre-retirement Mase! Keri Hilson came on, he sang along. That reminded me of Achimota School. I was actually smiling here, as we gunned down the inner lane at speeds I can’t determine, no thanks to his broken speedometer.
We finally got into East Legon in one piece. I wanted to confess to the driver that he had my heart in my mouth, but I found myself remarking that the radio DJ had made his day. He indicated with a grin that he was just remembering his heyday. With that, he screeched off in search of another unsuspecting passenger to frighten.
Normally, I make it a habit not to talk to taxi drivers. I prefer to sleep when I can, and mind my own business where I’m not able. Just the other night, this driver I encountered was in no mood to be silent. Less than a minute after the fare was negotiated and we were on our way, he considerably slowed down. He was looking intently into a spot where young people were downing bottles of Guinness. The music was loud and people were obviously winding down after a hectic week. That was his cue to spark up conversation. He told detailed stories about university students getting hopelessly drunk, and the less-than-glamorous pictures that were taken of them, with varying degrees of embarrassment.
Hardly a word he said registered as I mindlessly allowed him to ramble on. “It’s just like George Bush and Al Gore in the US elections, when ….” My head jerked left. He had my full attention. Now, I’ve been in a taxi where the polished bespectacled driver was talking to me about the part electrical conductors play in car fires. This brother here, he was nothing like that. He had a beer belly and a thick accent. Indeed, never judge a book. He was talking about how someone brought evidence about Bush’s police record in 2000. This was news to even me. The next word I heard was “New Hampshire”. The shock was complete. Who was this guy?!
It didn’t help any when we passed by Jerry’s in East Legon, popularly known as Atemuda. There, we slowed down again for my man to have a good look at the revellers. What he was looking for, I can’t tell. I guess he got kicks out of that.
It turns out he has a day job at a radio station. I didn’t bother asking what he did there, for fear it would just add to my shock. Taxi drivers too, it seems, come in all forms. There are the reckless speed demons blasting pirated hip-hop from a speaker that fills the whole boot, and there are old geezers who shake their heads at these young types and the corrupted generation they represent.