Appearances on my way to work

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A ride in one of the mini buses in Ghana

It is one of these very hot mornings, when I feel the moist air on my face although there is a swift cold breeze blowing over the pathway to my bus station. I press myself through parked mini buses and honking cars on the street to where my bus stop is. The mate, who is the person in charge of taking the money of the passengers and opening and closing the sliding door whenever someone shouts ‘bus stop’, is already smiling at me. There are not many white people in this neighborhood and the ones you see zoom by in nice cars with their windows rolled up enjoying the AC inside the car. Every morning I hop on the mini bus, it is not just the cheapest way of transportation and very convenient to my work place, it is also simply a thing locals do and I never try to behave like a ‘typical expat’. I climb inside the rusty old mini bus and find my seat on one of the very small benches inside. I step on someone’s foot as I try not to bang my head against any metal piece on top, I apologize right away and try to find a face to the foot. When I meet the eyes of my victim, he just glances at me in an annoyed way. I sit down right next to him and while I am squeezed in the row, he keeps his knees spread apart and leans with arms wide open towards the seat row in front of us. Dressed in nice trousers and a nice white shirt, holding a big smart phone in his hand, he looks just as wrong in this place as I do. The bus leaves the station and picks up more wandering souls along the way.

I respect mates. Usually, they do an amazing work with hollering out on the street where the bus is going, making sure to stop in time someone on the street makes a sign to join or someone on the mini bus mumbles ‘bus stop’ and meanwhile they collect money from the passengers, remembering exactly who of the 15-20 people gave what amount so that in the end he is able to give the exact change. Just this time, the mate seemed a bit overwhelmed. When it was my row that had to pay, I stretched my arm towards the mate and handed him my few coins. Suddely, someone demands to get off the bus short-noticed, the bus breaks, the passenger gets off, the mate closes the sliding door and so we continue. He asked the remaining passengers to pay, but does not point his finger at anyone in particular. This is when I notice that the well-dressed man who has been playing on his expensive phone next to me, slowly slides his little money back into his pocket, so that no one notices he has not paid yet. For a brief moment I wonder if I should say something. Something like ‘do you know that the driver and the mate are doing their job and you are using their service?’. Or should I whisper to the mate that the gentleman next to me has not paid yet? How come someone appearing so ‘big’ behave so foolish and disrespectful to people who do their job? As I drift into deep thoughts about injustice in the world and how we are not fair to our fellow human beings, showing them the respect they deserve, I hear the gentleman holler his ‘bus stop’. At the next station, he pushes past the other ones sitting in his row, hops off the mini bus and wanders off to start his day, all without looking at the mate and probably not even rethinking whether he should pay for his ride after all…

2 Responses

  1. Awudi Atitsogbui
    | Reply

    Thank you Natalie for sharing such touching post. I am really greatful for that. I am from Ghana living here in Croatia. Have seen and withness such incident as well. Next tie you can give signal to the mate. The opposite side of the story is that, most of the time some if the mate’s at times will desperately pretends to keep yiur change if you the passenger do not remind them for it. Hahahahahahahaha

    • Natalie
      | Reply

      I am so happy to read from you! Hahaha you are right, the hunt for your change is also a real one sometimes. Lately tho, I have had very honest mates. I should be more grateful for that. Or should that be the rule? Hmmm hehehe

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