One Minute Too Late

“Ile-Ife! Meji [‘Two’]! Ife! Meji!”. The bus loader at the park kept screaming continuously as I alighted at the park, indicating that the bus required two more passengers to take off.

My destination was the campus of Obafemi Awolowo University, to complete my exit clearance process. I needed to withdraw some money and was worried that the ATM queues inside OAU’s campus would be quite lengthy.

Decision time. I thought I could quickly use the ATM of the bank directly in front of the bus park, and return before the bus was filled up. I hurried to the ATM. Luckily; there were only two persons on the queue. Soon enough, it became my turn to use the dispenser. I was relieved that I had gotten the money I needed, but a shocker awaited me across the road.

As I hurried back to the park, I sighted one last empty seat. Whew! So I could still join this bus! As I ventured towards the open door, the bus loader quickly informed me that the seat was already taken. I turned to see an elderly woman alighting from a commercial motorcycle. She was obviously the last passenger.

Therefore, I became the first passenger in the next bus, waiting for thirteen other passengers to fill the bus. Mournfully, I wondered whether the time to be spent waiting for the remaining passengers would be more or less than the time I would have spent waiting in an ATM queue inside the campus.

After almost an hour, the bus finally filled up and we left Oshogbo. However, not before a transport fare-themed argument with the bus driver, led by yours truly, a representative of OAU’s rights-awareness tradition.

A 30-40 minute journey lasted almost 2 hours, thanks to the widespread use of rickety buses by Nigerian transporters. The bus threatened to fall apart if the driver ventured anywhere near 70 km/hr. As one vehicle after another made its way past us, I quickly entered a sleepy state.

My revered sleep was abruptly ended as the bus came to a halt by the side of the road. In my dazed state, I saw the driver jump out of the bus. Asking other passengers revealed that none knew why the bus stopped. Turns out a fuel hose beneath the bus had severed and was gifting the petrol to the road.

The driver smartly put a small jerrycan beneath the bus to stop the profligacy. A full 40 minutes was then spent in finding a motor mechanic to diagnose that the fuel filter was damaged, buying a new filter and replacing the bad one.

As the journey resumed, all I could think of was the bus I missed by one seat. I remembered the biblical parable of the ten virgins. Maybe, just maybe, I could have withdrawn the needed money the previous day, I could have left home a few minutes earlier, or I could have taken my chances with the campus’ queues. Thankfully, my trip to Ife wasn’t a time-bound appointment.

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