If you’ve ever used (a rare breed indeed are those that have not) the public transportation system in good old Centre of Excellence, then you’ve probably had challenges with change. This comes in several categories i.e. its collection, retrieval or discovery to give as fare. Some people try and save themselves the hassle and source for small denominations before making the trip, especially when they don’t want any unnecessary delay. The best time to be best prepared for this is the early morning rush hour when getting to work on time is the most important thing.
Conductors, drivers and that special class of driver cum conductor never tire of the incessant whine familiar to every commuter, ‘enter with your change o!’ This phrase is so commonplace that it’s almost a shock if it’s not uttered at some point during the journey. Some go further as to tell those without, not to board or specify the denominations that should not be tendered as fare. So if you fall in the category with the larger notes, then you’re probably going to have to find a quick solution to your dilemma. In the event you cannot, the conductor will have to sort it out as best he can.
The crafty solution that has been devised is more often than not the ‘joining’ method where passengers are collectively handed the equivalent of their due to sort out. These ceremonies could involve two or more people and maybe one of the more frustrating incidents for anyone involved. Handling the small change problem is often quickly resolved by enterprising passengers that ask others if they have the actual fare. It’s usually painless. Usually being the operative word but like all things in Lagos, drama can be the occasional outcome.
As someone that has had to ask others if they have the exact fare, I usually give them their change if I have and by so try and escape the hassle. To no surprise of mine sometime last week an elderly man asked and I gave him the smaller currencies I had. My expectation of reciprocity was rudely cut off when he told me to collect my change from the conductor. Taken aback, I recovered very quickly, refused and he had to return my money.
I was not in the mood to have more than the needed exchange with the driver that day. Little did I know that this was not the end. This man proceeded to ‘report’ me to the woman seated beside him. I believe he thought I did not understand, since he spoke in Yoruba (also probably didn’t care if I did) how I had not given him the money and other similar encounters he had experienced. His version of events was way off and I was mildly amazed on his creative edition of recent events.
Refusing to be drawn in I listened as both griped about related situations for the next ten minutes. I had to tune out because to hear them both say it; everyone else had a chip when it came down to it and then some! I’m sure the incidents were not exactly as narrated, but to them they were very personal and not quickly forgotten. I could relate since I’ve also had less than ideal chats in public transportation, but that’s life as long as people are involved. Everyone is entitled to help or not and it’s left for the one asking not to take offence.
Interacting with people in different situations under various circumstances and situations will cause friction of one form or the other. Often times we see it escalate when fisticuffs result or shouting matches are enacted. For onlookers it can be an amusing spectacle, but for those involved it really matters at that point in time. Well until, clothes are torn and hospitals must be visited I guess.
Thankfully mine was truncated early and all that happened was that I heard a summarily revised account. Like we all know notin we no go hear or see for dis Lagos. Humanity is saddled with everything that makes it function and flawed simultaneously. Remember that when next you’re facing change wahala or other with someone else. When was the last time you experienced friction with someone else?