I've decided to start moving around town by trotro for a while.
It was a pretty big decision. Came to me last night as I sat at work with no money to go home, having forgotten to go to the bank (which reminds me... *starts typing faster.*) When I asked her to help a brother out, a colleague asked me how I usually get home:
K: By taxi
A: How much do you pay?
K: Six cedis.
A: Six cedis... hold on: so you pay twelve cedis a day in and out?
After her speechlessness subsided, she told me what I already knew but had just been unwilling to do: "Kobina, you need to start travelling by 'trosky' ".
I got into the habit of taking taxis after an accident with my car all the way back in February. For awhile, I would take lifts from my stepbrother, who was doing his national service nearby. When he fell ill one week, I started taking cabs and found that I could leave home earlier, without having to wait for a lift, and get work done on the way (well... sometimes). I figured that I would do this for a month or so, by which time I would no doubt have gotten the car sorted out.
I got comfortable. So much so that my car is still lying there unfixed because the money I would use to fix it is the same money I spend on taxis. I keep telling myself "next month" but come next month, something always comes up: either the engineer is ill or he's busy, or some financially-draining demand suddenly pops up.
My problem with trotros is five-fold: time, security, convenience, comfort and class. It takes time when you have to keep stopping to pick up passengers; trotro stations are not the safest of places to be, especially at night. It is inconvenient having to switch buses from Spintex Road to Tetteh Quarshie, Tetteh Quarshie to Circle and then walk a little to boot. Furthermore, trotros are overloaded in the liable-to-have-someone-smear-you-with-hot-funky-armpit sense, and as for class, trotros are just not cool. Especially not for research managers.
That was the sound of reality giving me a check.
I took my first ride last night and it really wasn't so bad. The only incident happened when a passenger stood up for her rights (good for her) and complained that the spare tire underneath her seat was restricting her already-limited leg room. Both driver and mate ignored her until half the passengers joined in, complaining why the owner of the vehicle had had the four-seater converted into a five-seater in the first place, cramming us all together. The other half of the passengers however told her to put up and shut up, much as - the driver stressed - all previous passengers in that seat had that day. The lady eventually got down and insisted on her money back. The mate refused having failed to notice the policeman in the front seat, who said nothing until he realised that everyone (or, more specifically, he) was going to be held up unless he intervened. One stern warning and a few pennies later, we were back on our way.
This morning's ride was without incident. Disappointingly smooth actually. I was only half an hour later than my usual time to work, which is an hour before I'm due.
The forgotten fact of the matter is that I used to take trotros all the time as a teenager, especially on long journeys from Cape Coast to Accra back when I was too broke for State Transport and the roads were so bad that we would drive past other trotros whose back ends were sticking out of small craters into which their front ends had fallen, back wheels still spinning.
That was then and this is now. Besides, it'll motivate me to get the car fixed. It's only a temporary fix...