"It is a rat race time..." - The Mandators
You Lagosians are a truly amazing bunch of people. I’m sure that most of you Lagosians are good, honest, hard-working folk. I’m sure you pay your taxes, take care of your kids, and do all things expected of decent folk. However, I have one small observation for you. You’re rats, every last one of you.
See, you guys are crazy, unstable, downright loony. Anyone who has spent 10 minutes in a Lagos traffic jam will tell you Lagos drivers are insane. I could say that the bus drivers are the major culprits, and blame that on ignorance, illiteracy, etc. and that would be all. In truth, all of you are exactly the same. You lack lane discipline, patience, good sense. And the more expensive the car, the crazier the driver.
One night last month, I spent four hours in a hold-up at Apapa, and ended up spending the night in a “hotel” somewhere in Ojo. The next morning, Chxta (who was driving) and I rose at 5.30 am, to make the journey back to his place in Surulere, where I planned to shower, grab my bags, and head for the airport. On our way out of Ojo, we ran into another traffic jam.
Bear in mind that it was a public holiday, and I reasonably expected you people would be in bed, sleeping off the exertions of the hellish commutes to and from work that Lagos inflicts on its residents. How wrong I was. The buses were packed full of you, and if it were possible, I would have stopped one and asked, “Where the fuck are you people going on a fucking public holiday at 6 fucking o’clock in the fucking morning?!” It made absolutely no sense.
And then the answer hit me.
You have been trained to wake up at 4.30 am, have a bath and rush off to work or whatever, and your minds cannot do without this routine anymore. You people have been trained to expect a 15 minute drive to last 4 hours and, like any organism placed into such a situation for an extended period of time, you have evolved.
There is one other organism which is trained in the same manner. It is given a fixed task in fixed conditions, for a fixed reward for a length of time until it learns a routine to perfection. And once the routine is learned, the reward can be withdrawn without any adverse effects on performance. The task is to run a maze, and the reward is the food at the center of the maze.
The organism is a rat.
Lagosians have been trained to run the maze that is their daily life and can now perform the task so adroitly, it doesn't matter that you're supposed to be taking a break. When you try to slow down, your minds revolt because you wouldn't know how to spend your free time. The four hour traffic jam is like a drug to you now, and you're addicted to it. Whenever Lagos-based friends come to Abuja, the first thing they do is complain that Abuja is too boring, seeing as there isn't a place to go that requires you to spend 4 hours sitting in your car twiddling your thumbs. Eventually, one of two things will happen: they either get used to the slower pace of life and acknowledge that Lagos was driving them crazy, or they beat a hasty retreat back to their beloved city.
I have one last thing to say to you. If you spend 4 hours a day in your car doing nothing, and you work a 5 day week, that rapidly becomes 20 hours a week, 80 hours a month, and 960 hours a year. In other words, you spend 40 days a year seated in your car, honking your horn, cursing other drivers, and getting totally stressed out. If you work a 6 day week, it becomes 48 days. And some of you spend 3 hours a day going to work, and 3 hours getting home, and you work 6 day weeks.
It doesn't get much scarier than that.