I was going to chiromo from town, a ten minute walk if I ran but I didn’t feel like running. It was one of those days when I felt I had money, a Saturday when I wasn’t going to spend any money on drink and I felt rich, I felt benevolent like spreading around that ten bob would contribute to economic growth in its way, plus I was feeling lazy so I got into a matatu. I took one of those big hulking sausage shaped ones with a star on it right opposite main campus at the edge of town. I felt all lawbreaking bad boy as I watched out for the cop stationed at the head of the road and snuck in just as he wasn’t looking. I settled myself near the back and immediately got caught in this long snarling jam. The kind of jam that had the engines of all the cars protesting at the misuse that they were being put to, angry to share the road with each other, wishing they had full reign, that they could just start and whiz past.
The conductor collected everyone’s fare and came to me. I held out my 10 bob very proudly, I was a fare-paying passenger dammit! And he had better treat me like one. Instead he said “30,” just like that the most natural thing in the world. I sought to assure him that my stage was too close for such obscene amounts of money, I let him know I was just going to chiromo and he said again “30,” at this point 2 options, either it’s like that old episode of dexter(the cartoon about a boy genius not the dark tale of a serial killer) where he can only say one phrase in French, omelette Du fomage, or he actually wanted me to pay that 30 bob for a distance I could stroll.
Living in a world where the likelihood of a serial killer who kills other killers is higher than that of a boy hiding a laboratory in his basement I figured he wanted me to pay the 30 bob. I was in shock. But before it could give way to anger the guy besides me jumps to my defence
“you can’t expect him to pay 30 for this distance, be serious.”
I understood that I hadn’t asked him how much he was charging and that in such situations there was no way to win, plus I was feeling lazy so I told him to take that ten bob and leave me wherever he could, feeling all reasonable and he still refused. We had moved barely 30 metres and he refused to take that money. Being the paragon of patience that day I took out another 5 bob and gave him all the coins I had in my possession, take this then I said,he refused this asshole refused. And I didn’t want to break my note but I didn’t see this ending any other way.
The guy beside me had become more vocal in his support for me, talking about exploitation and letting the tout know that we were all feeling this economic slump, other people in the mat were shouting at him too. And this gave me the opportunity to be above the fray, good place to be. Except the tout started threatening us or rather me with a police station. I have been to jail and this is a threat I take rather seriously. But I hadn’t done shit so I reminded him that I hadn’t talked back to him at all. At this point he had moved back to the front of the mat and said in that macho threatening voice that they use to cow cowards, “you know you’ll just pay,” I did but I didn’t appreciate being treated like this. I wasn’t ticked off yet I just felt the situation was a little absurd and I enjoy absurdity so I waited for it to develop.
These two guys are having a word fight now except I seem to be the only one getting threats of being locked up, then he suggests we go to the police station, I decide to distance myself from this guy who might turn out to be a problem and talk personally to the tout, I walk to the front of the mat and I tell him I’m not going to kabete(location of the station) but to chiromo, he doesn’t find me funny at all. I even hand him some money. And then he said something tribalist and I got pissed. I don’t know why I just felt that tribe didn’t have anything to do with that situation so I raised my voice, I already have a very loud voice, one that wont allow a whisper to be associated with it so when I shouted at him I think he thought it was time for him to reassert his man hood, in addition the other passenger had just threatened him with burning the matatu. The drive stops the mat and turns around, just as angry asks me why I want to burn the mat down.
Well, sir I dint say anything about burning the mat down it was the other guy, I at this point can’t believe these guys can’t tell the difference in our voices or are they just playing dumb, I haven’t made any threats and they know this am sure, what the fuck is going on. So just to assuage his fears I tell him
“I don’t even smoke cigarettes I think that’s unhealthy I wouldn’t burn this matatu down how much more unhealthy is that, plus how do you e’en burn a mat down? Memorise the number plate and go by some kerosene and come back to find it then burn it down, because I was overcharged, am not going to do that, too much work.” i think this little speech convinced him because he went back to driving.
At this point I know how am going to make this ride worth that 30 bob, I am gong to piss the hell out of this conductor so i tell him that I can’t even buy matches any more because he’s taken all my money. So I tell him I don’t have any money for matches unless he wants to buy some for me from the money he just unfairly took. Everyone else thought this was funny, because it was. Humourless douche of a conductor doesn’t and he tries to embarrass me.
“why are you complaining so much I charged this guy 30 and he’s good”
random passenger speaks up ”but it hurt me to pay that 30”
this douche just can’t win today. And every time I talk to him he gets more angry, admittedly this is my aim I am trying to be annoying and he can’t see it so he just gets annoyed, there’s no pleasure in such hollow victories so I tell him.
“now I’ve already paid so I’m just talking to you cos I know it pisses you off and I want you pissed off”
that pissed him off. i was having such a good time now I could have paid 50(not really this is just a figure of speech like a threat to burn a mat is just a figure of speech.) everyone is laughing at all my jokes, I have no idea if it’s cos am some kind of funny or they’re also pissed off at being charged so much and want him pissed off too.
We’re coming up to chiromo now and I’ve nearly run out of things to say. Now all he can do is shrug off his shoulders at me, he can’t even raise his voice or god forbid his fist, I think he knew that if he hit me the whole mat would erupt and take it out on him. I knew this too and so I got more brazen, I asked him why he has so much anger, I told him anger isn’t good for him and he should work on releasing it. I shout at the driver that we’re nearly at chiromo I tell him I have paid and that he daren’t pass me that stage, this did not seem to him like an empty threat so he starts slowing down.
M parting shot to the conductor is that the needs Jesus in his life, I tell him then he won’t be so angry, I tell him that If Jesus was on that mat he would have paid 60 bob because he was always about turning the other cheek. He was glad to see me go. And yes it was worth every cent.