Help!

****

I’m going to try really hard to make you all feel the fear I felt on the morning of the 27th day of April 2013.

Enjoy.

****

drowning

I’ve never had a near death experience before. And to many, drowning in the 4 feet part of a hotel swimming pool is really too funny a way to die. PS – I’m 5ft6inches.

My friends and I were on a mini-vacation out of town. It was also another friend’s wedding. Killing two stones with one bird… sorry, two birds with one stone. As soon as I learnt there was a pool in the hotel we would be staying in, I got super-excited (you know, having never been in a swimming pool in my entire 20-something years of existence. Please don’t judge me.)

That morning, I changed into my swim wear and dragged my friends to the pool. There was 6 of us and a lifeguard. I entered the pool and sticking to the shallow part, I tried unsuccessfully to at least float. Then I became frustrated. Like, what is there in floating? Simple float, I cannot do. Whenever I removed my feet from the floor of the pool, and released my hold on the wall, I sank.

As if a switch went off in my head, I took a few steps back, made enough space in front of me, and I dove. Big mistake. As soon as my body hit the water, my senses returned. Unfortunately, it was a little too late. I went right into the water. Now I was hysterical, because no matter how hard I tried to get my feet back on the pool floor, I failed. In between 1) struggling to get my head out of the water, 2) finding my footing, 3) trying to get to the entrance of the pool which is its shallowest part and 4) drinking a good amount of chlorinated water, I am almost certain I screamed for help at least twice, but my friends who were standing right there claimed I didn’t say a word. I dove in face forward but somewhere along the line of struggle, I was on my back doing semi-back-strokes and drowning.

Then I realized the water had started taking me to the deep end of the pool. That was when the real fear set in. Is this how I’m going to die? Can’t these people f*#king see that I’m drowning? And where the hell is that lifeguard? Somebody help me!!!

It wasn’t until my hair net fell off from my head that they realized I was in trouble. But before they could do anything about it, my semi-backstrokes and I made it out, to the entrance of the pool.

All of this happened in less than a minute.

I got out of the pool, throwing up water, coughing like my life depended on it, my nose and eyes hurting like mad.

They started laughing. And I joined them.

****

Did I succeed? 😀

****

Of Cars And Their Troubles…

A-D-A! I heard o! That you’re now a bigz girlz! Only you! Working class! Driving your own car sef! Babes, please when will you start to remember us in this your paradise na?! *white noise*

Fashi the “Working class” part. A lot of you reading this (thanks for stopping to read by-the-way :D) belong to the “working class”. You’ll agree with me that more often than not, it sounds more luxurious than it really is. Let’s be honest, being a mere ‘salary-earner’ in the Lagos Metropolis (especially when you’re new to the whole “working class” thing) most times, just doesn’t cut it.

For the sake of my car’s feelings (yes, she does have feelings) I won’t say anything not-nice about her. She’s a darling. My partner in crime. My ever present help. My wife etc etc.

I’ll just share some of my top stressful car-palava-moments. LOL!

Enjoy. 😀

3:

Driving along Ozumba Mbadiwe Expressway Lekki. The last 2 traffic light stops have been green. This must be some kind of good omen. I’m approaching 1004 bus stop. My speed is somewhere between 80 and 100 km per hour. The lights at 1004 bus stop go from green to amber.

“Ada, you can make it” I said to myself. The 3 seconds the amber light would be on for, is more than enough time to speed past. Instead of slowing down, I increase my speed. As I step on the gas, the lights go from amber to red. Holy sh!t. What-the-?! The light practically jumped from amber to red without the usual delay. I am the first person before the light and I am torn between beating the traffic light then possibly having those LASTMA-leeches (please forgive me if your dad is a LASTMA official. Your dad is not a leech.) on my ass, and slowing down from 80km per hour to a halt, less than 50 meters before the crossing. Sweet baby Jesus. I hit the brakes. Hard. I come screeching to a halt just at the crossing. Good Lord. My Savior is alive.

Then I hear a very loud screeching sound behind me – the sound of the tyres of a very fast moving vehicle, struggling to come to a halt – the same kinda sound my tyres made.

(((GBOOOOOOMMMM!!!))). My car lurches forward and I find myself in the middle of the road crossing. My seat belts are the only reason my face (and many other body parts I guess) is still in one piece today.

As soon as I ascertain I’m alright, I step out of my car (in slow motion), still in a bit of shock. All I can think of is “My bumper must be finished.”

PS – You should’ve seen the hood of the car that hit mine. Total disaster.

2:

Three Weeks Later…

I’m driving on the same gaddemm Ozumba Mbadiwe Expressway. I’m approaching the same gadforsaken traffic light at that 1004 bus stop. This time around, all the traffic lights are out of service. I mean, they are not working and traffic is being controlled by those blood sucking LASTMA peeps. (Please forgive me if your dad is a LASTMA official. Your dad is not a blood sucking creature.)

Now a couple of things happened a few minutes before I got to that traffic light. I partly witnessed an accident.

I am on Alfred Rewane road Ikoyi. A biker speeds past me. I almost forget I am driving, because I am lost in thought admiring this power bike. The guy disappears around a bend up front. 2 minutes later, after I come round the bend and drive for about 300 meters, I see the young man and his crushed bike under a water tanker at a cross road. My guess? He didn’t see the tanker in good time and was going too fast to stop his bike in time. If not for his helmet, his brains would have been all over the tarred road. He is unconscious as he is  dragged out from under the vehicle, with blood gushing out of his mouth. I am shaken. I mean, I was admiring that bike 2 minutes ago!

Back to the present.

So I am a little absent minded. The car in front of me is an SUV, so apart from the back of the car, I can’t see nada. I can’t see the traffic warden raising his hands and asking us to halt (thanks to the non-functional traffic lights). Thanks to my absent minded-ness, I do not also realize in time that the SUV in front of me has slowed down. And thanks to the human being that owns the SUV, his brake lights are not working. So no brake lights, no traffic lights, I can’t see the warden, I’m absent minded… I do not realize that I’m supposed to be slowing to a halt. I keep going at my 50km per hour and the SUV guy is really just right in front of me.

When I finally awaken from my reverie, I’m a little too late. I go hard on the brakes like never before and I hit the SUV just a little bit. This right here is the definition of Deja vu. Same spot, same kind of accident. Only right now, the roles are reversed.

It goes without saying that I stopped going through that Ozumba Mbadiwe Expressway till about 4 months later, after I overcame my phobia for traffic lights.

1.

Heheheee.. This one is funny.

Its a Friday morning. Its raining HEAVILY. I have to get to work. I’m lucky I have a car. Heheheeee.

I get in my car, feeling very happy with myself.

The going is good and sweet until I turn into Lekki Phase One from the 3rd gate.

If you are familiar with that area, you’ll agree with me that the flood that area experiences is really something to write abroad about. Last year during the rainy season, it was a terrible ordeal. That reminds me, the rainy season is here. Prepare yourselves.

As I drive into Phase One, I’m momentarily confused as to whether I’m in Lekki Phase one, or I’m on the shores of Elegushi beach. The water level is pretty high. And by experience my car does not do well with water.

I’m now torn between the options of finding high ground somewhere around and parking my car or plunging into that mini-river. I contemplate for a bit and I forge ahead. Big mistake.

My car does not last 5 minutes before it stalls and goes off. Wonderful.

It is still raining heavily. The car refuses to start. I open the door and try to come out.  The water level is just a little below my knees. No exaggeration. I sit inside it for a while wondering what to do. Meanwhile, the car is already flooded. 😥

There’s a young man by the roadside. I remove my pumps, roll up my jeans and together with this young man I push my car out of the water to dry ground. I part with some money too. Oh, and the rain communed with me properly.

(At this point in my life, I’m thinking some pedestrians are better off than I am. Lmao!)

A friend happens to be driving by. She’s on her way to drop her kids at school. Ah, my savior is indeed alive!

I get in her car and she drops me at my office.

By 12 noon,  I walk back to where my car is parked. I get in, start it and drive away.

Loool!

Goes without saying: As far as this car is concerned, the fear of water is the beginning of my peace of mind.

****

Trust me when I say that there’s a lot more where these came from. But hey, who wants to hear all that boring sh!t anyway? Toodles! 😀

 

Just Because It Needs A Title…

“Accidents are accidental

Accidental, accidental,

Accidents are accidental

Except when they are not.”

 

Gbooom!

A vehicle slammed into mine from behind.

I let out a few curse words, parked and climbed out of my 2010 charcoal black Toyota Camry to see the extent of the damage (and of course rake a little). Lagos drivers will not give me high blood pressure o! They will not kill me either! In 6 weeks, I had visited my panel beater twice. Twice! Haba! Why does it have to be me?! Every Tom, Dick and Okorie wants to drive their own car. Nobody said you shouldn’t drive o, but at least, learn properly before you start plying major roads na! Which one is continually constituting a nuisance to other drivers just because you can’t tell your brake apart from your accelerator?

It was 1 am. Yes, 1 am. What was I doing out that late? None of yo beeswax ^_^. Ok, just because you stopped by to read, I’ll tell you 😀 . Kayode, my friend and business associate was having a little get together. He took some of his close friends out for drinks. See? Nothing out of the ordinary 😀 , just the usual guys-hanging-out-and-having-a-swell-time. It was a little after 12 midnight when we said our goodbyes.

I was just about to drive into Lekki Phase one through the 3rd gate at Ikate roundabout (for those of you who know the area well), so I gradually slowed down to about 20km/hr. That was why I was even more alarmed and confused when the car ran into mine. I mean, I wasn’t speeding, I didn’t reduce my speed abruptly or anything like that, so there was almost no sane explanation for someone to run into me like that, especially as the roads were free. No, deserted.

Deserted. This was so unlike me. I should have smelt a rat. I mean, it was 1 am. Mine and the “learner’s” car, were the only cars on the road. The accident looked more like a planned incident. Even a partially blind man wouldn’t have bashed me just like that. But I was furious. I was already thinking of the money I would spend fixing my car. Just because some probably drunk dude, didn’t know when to stop drinking. Mstcheew. The asshole was going to get a piece of my mind. If not for anything else, I would rake my money’s worth out of him. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

As I stepped out of my car, 3 men jumped out of the Nissan sunny which looked like it had seen better days. Then it hit me. In my mind, I could hear Robin Hood’s voice, “Gentlemen, this is a robbery”. Lol… The way the guy would curtly announce to his victims that they were about to be robbed, that always got me rollin’. Well today, I felt exactly what Robin Hood’s victims must have felt.

One of them had a gun. The other two grabbed me and roughly shoved me up against my car. There was a fourth guy, the driver. He kept their car’s engine running. The guy with the gun patted me down. I said goodbye to my Blackberry bold 4, Samsung Galaxy S3, and my iPad2. My Rolex and about  8,000 bucks I had in my wallet too.

But they weren’t finished. They made me get in my car, the two guys flanked me at the backseat and they drove straight to an ATM not far away from where they had ambushed me. I had two bank accounts and hence 2 ATM cards. Then they made me withdraw as much as I could from the machine with both cards. I had never been this grateful to God, and to CBN or whoever put the rule in place that let you withdraw a maximum amount of 100,000 Naira in one day from your account using an ATM card. Yeah, you got it right, I lost 200,000 naira to those bastards that day. I remained calm throughout and never even moved a muscle or showed fear. I was more pissed off than scared.

Then, they left me at the ATM and drove off with my car. *sigh* Thank God for the advancement in technology and the security system built into cars for situations like this. All I needed to do was get hold of a mobile phone as soon as possible, and send a code via sms to a number, and the car would stop automatically. (Fuel supply to the engine is cut off through some electro-mechanical magic ish)

I was just weak. I didn’t know what to think or do. I was standing in the middle of… well… somewhere, with nothing but an empty wallet and my ATM cards that I couldn’t use for another 24 hours.  There was no one in sight. I couldn’t call for help. The only option I had, was  to walk. And walk, I did. I walked all the way back to my house inside Lekki Phase One. Did you just ask, Wasn’t I scared? *laughs bitterly* Scared of what, kwanu? That another set of armed robbers would attack me? looool! By all means they should come and be my guests! There was nothing left to steal.

As I walked home, a lot of things went through my mind.

One was our country’s (to put it lightly) not-so-wonderful security system. It pained me that these hoodlums were most likely gonn’ go scot free. There were of course no eye witnesses, no street cams, no vehicular tracking systems, virtually no way of tracking them down. I had memorized the plate number of their banged up Nissan Sunny, but of what use would that be? I thought of the police, and I was even more downcast. Most of them were lackadaisical, non-concerned human beings who just wanted the paycheck at the end of the month. No offence, but what would they do? Even if they wanted to, how exactly would they track down these guys? They would most probably even find ways of making me part with some of the cash I was already running short of. *smh* I would go file a report of course, just to fulfill all righteousness and as a show of ‘faith’ in the (sorry to say) failing system. Plus I would need their help in recovering my vehicle.

Then those guys… It was so frustrating to think that I wasn’t their first victim and I wouldn’t be their last. They would do the same thing and get away with it, over and over again. So sad. Well, I did what every other helpless person would do – Cursed them in my heart, to their 3rd and 4th generation (that is if their lineages last that long) lol… I don’t exactly stand for the opinion that it is the difficulty of the society we live in that bred armed robbers and the likes. Yes, that might be a contributing factor, but imagine a society where every single person who has had it rough in this life resorts to armed robbery, vandalism and the likes… Yeah, imagine that. I believe they made the choice to become hoodlums. And you want me to join you in blaming it all on the society? We ARE the society!

I couldn’t also help but wonder if I had been targeted by someone who knew me, or if I was a random, unlucky prey who was at the wrong place at the wrong time. I took a good look at their faces during the whole incident. None of them seemed even vaguely familiar.

I was just glad they didn’t hurt me. I picked up a few lessons that day though, one of which was: Keep Driving. Come to think of it… You get bashed. You’re not hurt. Then you quickly jump out of your car, cause a bit of traffic by blocking the road with your vehicle, exchange words with the other guy, get annoyed, waste your time, get back in your car and drive away. Its not as if after all the banter, the other car owner would pay you for the damages done to your vehicle. That hardly ever happens (unless you happen to be bashed by “Fashola” 😀 ). Just suck it up, decide that the idiot isn’t worth 5 minutes of your time and be grateful that the accident isn’t worse than it already is. (This is of course, if you are the “bashee” o! If you are the “basher”, kindly come down from your vehicle and start apologizing)

And I won’t forget the confused look on my gate keeper’s face when he came to open the gate for me…

~Lagos-living. We will survive~

 

PS: May car was found 2 days later, abandoned somewhere along Lekki-Epe expressway. My guess is, the thieves probably knew about the security systems in modern cars. They probably just wanted to make sure I was helpless enough to not get help until they were far, far away.