By the end of this piece, I hope someone will be kind enough to be my driver.
Before we start getting all jumpy about this, just know I don’t have a car. I need a driver, who has a car. It’s sort of a package deal. It is more like calling for an Uber but this time round a rental, until I get my own. I am beyond done with public transport. Dunzo! Public transport and I are at that point in a relationship where reconciliation is the last option. Moving on for the sake of peace is quite literally the only option left. Very few things can really piss me off. Bad food (ok, if you can’t cook, kindly do not offer to cook for me. I value good food). Lies (there is a thin line between the truth and a lie. It’s called choice). A terrible journey (this is our focus today)
My standards just don’t seem to mix with the public transport standards. It’s either that or guys are just out to get me. It can easily be both.
Travelling is one of my favourite hobbies, yet I am always complaining anytime I travel. I am planning to go on a vacation soon. More reasons why I need a driver. I know some may begin questioning my account balance. Who goes on vacation when the country is being given a bitter dose of humility? Well, it is for that very reason that I need a vacation. What happens when the economy keeps dropping day by day? I may never get to afford such a thing again. So yes, we are being humbled in the worst way, but I am planning to live well. Plus travelling isn’t even that expensive really.
So travelling. I have specific preferences when am travelling. I need a window seat. And if I don’t get that, then the one with the window seat should know how to balance the temperature in the vehicle. I am not going to suffocate in a matatu. Hell no! Apart from the window seat, it would be of much importance to me if the driver does not play music so loud that I can’t hear my own thoughts. Still on the music, it should be in a language we all understand. By ‘all’ here I mean Kenyans. Music is the reason my worst route is the Nyahururu-Nairobi route. Those guys play loud Mugithi music and it gets worse when they join in the chorus with their perfectly out of key voices. Imagine a frog singing in soprano. Do take your time please… I believe you now see my frustration.
Next preference when travelling is to have a quiet vehicle. How quiet? Pin drop. I don’t like it when everyone is talking in a matatu. The person at the back seat wants to engage the one seated with the driver in a lengthy conversation about the weather. And no, not the one we are all experiencing on the road. The one they have left wherever they are coming from. You are coming from the same goddamn place! And headed to the same place. How about you discuss that while there. Another preference would be a new vehicle. It’s just not fair to sentence someone to an hour-long journey with a lot of crickiry-crickiry noise from the body and a deafening cry of a dying engine. Save the poor vehicle and make it scrap metal. I should write a proposal on that.
There are some irritating people habits that I can’t stand in a matatu ever. One, How is it that some people just can’t stop eating? I get it, food is important. Big deal. Why would someone need a whole week’s supply of food in a 1-hour journey? These people eat everything. Everything. As long as its food, they will eat it. My worst is groundnuts. I don’t eat any nuts. That sounds weird but moving on… Another one is avocados. How do you eat avocado in a public vehicle without some decorum? The way people eat avocados in a matatus is just nasty and very gross. Picture this. You are sitting next to someone eating avocado, the vehicle hits an emergency break and just like that you are covered in avocado. Not just you but it flies around messing the other passengers’ clothes. Maybe am paranoid.
Two, I think we can all agree that a phone call is a private thing. We all don’t need to hear a conversation we are not part of. If you don’t want to involve us in the call, then regulate your voice and the call volume. Imagine yourself in a vehicle where everyone is speaking on phone, and it’s too loud that you can literally hear what both parties are saying. This is a common behaviour with businessmen. It’s like to announce your success, you must at least receive one phone call per journey and yell at the poor fella whose sole mistake was calling you while you were near people. This is just one hell of a sick move. I cannot stand that anymore.
Three, there is something about respecting someone’s phone that some public transport users just don’t seem to comprehend. It’s the respecting part. You are travelling and having a lively conversation with someone via text, only to realize you are not the only one viewing your phone. Your neighbour is so much glued to your screen just as much as you are! There are no words to express the anger that follows that. One time some guy asked me who the people in my photos were. I was searching for a new profile picture. I get it; there is an access law that was passed recently. It does not cover my phone!
Four, tantrums. I love children. They love me. But my love for children is sort of becoming conditional. I love those who love being quiet. No tantrums. If there are any, at least let them be diplomatic. Ok, I get how that’s too much to ask, but they’ve got to learn such things early. The future of diplomacy depends on those tiny beings. I have had my fair share of child tantrums in public vehicles to an extent that am beginning to question my tolerance for children all together.
I thought I had seen it all in matatus from loud passengers, bad music, terrible seatmates, invasion of privacy, all the way to a damn food festival until I was travelling from Maseno to Kisumu. (That was a long sentence! Wow!) It was a bus. I wasn’t fortunate enough to get a window seat, but that’s not the focus of this rant. My problem was with a preacher. Yes, a preacher. There are these guys who are always preaching in vehicles. Then will later ask for some handouts, politely I might add. Not this preacher. He was one arrogant son of a *you know what*. This guy boards the bus at the same stage that I did. He finds a seat just next to the conductor. 10 minutes into the journey, he whispers something to the conductor, then walks over to the driver, and does the same. The driver turns off the radio and pastor begins his road sermon. Let me just state this very clearly, it was good music turned off. That’s some rare thing to find especially in a public vehicle. The guy talked about Noah, he talked about Daniel, he talked about every other Sunday-school story I have ever heard. He talked for the whole journey. Just as we were about to arrive in Kisumu, he asked for his offering. I was just about to pull a 50-shilling note and hand it over when he ruined it. “Mtu asinipatie coin yoyote. Ntapeleka wapi? Kama unaona ni coin ndio unaeza nipatia, kaa na pesa yako. Itanibolea mfuko. Mchungaji hawezi ongea kwa muda huu wote kisha umpe coin. Kwa hivyo yeyote atakaye taka kumbariki mhubiri anaweza leta chochote alichonacho. Lakini sio coin” Quick and brief translation, the guy would not accept any cash if it was a coin. It would ruin his pockets.
Let’s take a breather… Ok, now what the hell? Who does that? He is a preacher. I don’t think having a say on what people give you as an appreciation for sharing the gospel comes with the calling. That was just so wrong. Maybe am judging, but that was just wrong. No one gave him any money. No one.
I know I always complain a lot when I travel. It is not fair to those who have to keep listening to my whining self. It’s about time that ended. Like I said at the beginning, I am expecting a driver, with a car. The qualifications are simple. Be a good driver. Just that. My vacation time is just around the corner, and to be quite honest, if I don’t have a driver by then, you will all have to deal with my rants. That is not a pretty thing.
Two weeks ago, I posted a story on my life as a preacher’s kid; school life. I ended the piece with a promise to work on the social life of a preacher’s kid. I will post that soon. However, I wanted to start an online awareness campaign on the lives of preachers kids as an attempt to bring about understanding and at least limit the level with which stereotyping is paramount. To all our readers, it is my request to you all to share this message with any PK you may know. We will be posting the stories on our Facebook page(PepperLife) using the #LifeAsAPreachersKid. The stories can be shared anonymously just in case someone is not comfortable with their identity going public. Share the stories with us through our email or via our Facebook page inbox. You can also directly send the stories via WhatsApp.
Paula – email@example.com 0701-250155
Lewis – firstname.lastname@example.org 0718-647507
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