I set forth at dawn, of course, always before the morn is broken. Most times, at the time when no taxi’s waiting. So, no honking! The nature of what I do does not compare to bank jobs, where I can always waltz in at the brink of dusk. Neither civil service where I can breathe after the statutory 4:00pm everyday nor busy confined hours of resident doctors. I don’t have the luxury of a shopkeeper who can access power naps at will. I work round the hours, beating time and deadlines. Yet, a Cinderella of all professions.
I leave home every day beaming with hope and smiles. I know I may come back to sleep on my bed or a bed somewhere else. A phone call in the twilight of the day will tell wife this cat ain’t coming home tonight. I’ve got to beat the time for every delivery. Today’s particularly inclement. My power bike won’t do the magic as it can’t stop the rain from touching this soul who’s bent on delivering the parcel in pristine condition. The cumulonimbus is forming up. The rain is more conventional than relief or orographic. Ahead is not just traffic but gridlock. I’m on the clock and the client is waiting.
This is Lagos. A city that never sleeps. A megalopolis of busy streets and alleys. The highways are crowded. Road hawkers having a field day. Good for their business but bad for mine. Stuck on the mainland bridge while on the clock is a signal of poor service and terrible image. I don’t expect them to understand. Remember, a customer is always right.
This is where the sixth sense comes to play. Beat the time against all odds. Lagos boy who knows all the nooks and crannies never stand in traffic. Of course, like Flash I’m out with supersonic speed. Damn! I’m a genius, I beat the traffic. So pours the rain, cats and dogs. So, genius, beat that too?
Gotcha! Raincoats and wellington boots can do the magic. No room for Titanic mistakes; I’ve for the lifeboat needed. However, one fact remains unbeatable : can’t stir the direction of the rain. Failing to fall in anticipated direction due monsoon wind blowing westwards causing it to assume diagonal cascading. That was when I realized the race is not always for the swift and things don’t always go the way we planned.
My armour has failed me. So have my wits and pride. But in spite of it all, I remained undaunted in my quest for excellent delivery like no other. Beaten and wet as I might appear to be, I took solace in the immunity of the package against all odds. The brand, print and strategy department has done a great job in the containment of the consignment. The official paper pack has been further enshrouded in foil – like cellophane wraps that are impervious to water, heat and soil. Maybe, even burglar proof – if you have a good sense of humor. And the race races on.
Few hours later, what appeared as a global deluge faded away like a sick whisper. Providence must have waved its magic wand as the rain began to subside until it halted diametrically. In my heart, the storm was over. I’ve navigated the red sea of mainland gridlock. A little ecstatic, or possibly, euphoric, I cruise along gradually gaining momentum on the open autostrada till there was a deafening sound of metal collision. Call it a crash; or was it accident? The driver must have been drunk or high on Weeds. Driving in reverse from a link road to the major highway isn’t just suicidal, it’s murder. I was spiraled off my bike into the airlike a Hollywood stuntman in a blockbuster movie.
Except it wasn’t. It was real. In split second, my eyes were closed and everywhere became peaceful and quiet. I lay waiting for the bliss that follows the much talk about afterlife. Maybe, eternity was supposed to open up and angels descending to usher me home – the heaven rooms. Until taps on one of my shoulders, accompanied by a voice : “wake up, man” yanked me back to life. Hoping to see angel Gabriel leading me on to my divine domicile. But I was disappointed when he handed me my cycler’s glasses, “You’re lucky. They’re not broken. You sure want to get up on my mattress now” So, I’ve been on one of the mattresses displayed by the roadside by a wholesaler. No sprain, no fracture, no bruises. Little wonder it felt heavenly on a six – by – twelve family – size mattress. But excuse me, where is the client’s package?
…to be continued