“Do you mind if I gist with you?” the cab driver taking me home asked as he weaved through the heavy traffic. ‘Yes, I mind’ was already at the tip of my tongue but I took another look at him and noticed that he was young, probably around the same age with my younger brother, and he looked like he had something pressing that he wanted to say.
I dropped my phone, and said ‘Okay, shoot”
“Ah, last week, I carried one passenger like this; halfway into the journey, he asked me to turn back and take him home because he wanted to get his car. When we got to his house, he now removed the cover from a car. Guess what? It was one sleek Porsche like this!”
I raised one eyebrow as I was already getting tired of the story.
He saw my impatience and said, “wait now, let me gist you.”
The guy seemed really eager to tell me, a total stranger, this story.
To get back into the gist, I asked him:
“So did you end the trip after he picked up his Porsche?”
“End which trip? He told me to drive in front of him all through. That day, we toured the whole of Lagos. Do you know this guy went to this mall (I don’t want to name names) and bought household items worth millions of Naira? See, I didn’t know people sell luxury bedsheets in this Lagos o. Bedsheet pass 100k sef. I just dey look.”
Oh! It finally clicked in my head.
But I let him continue his story. I was mildly curious about how the story would end, so I asked him; “after buying the furniture, what did you guys now do?”
“We took it to one brand new house like this, inside one estate for …( still not naming names). Then I follow the furniture guys dey set up.”
“Ahn ahn, you no go do cab again?” I asked him.
He looked at me like I was stupid, “Cab ke? I don go off line since now.”
He continued the story.
“Later, the guy come give me 140k say make I go meet one guy, say he go give me something. I come go o; na igbo them give me, foreign igbo, no be the local kind boys dey smoke for here o.
After then, he send me to pick up some fine babes for Oniru. After I drop them, he dash me like 150k. I come go house. By then, it was very late at night. I was just thinking of my life o. How to make money.”
The normal me would have kept quiet and let him think of his life but he seemed so young, around 20/21-years-old, and, for some reason, his enthusiasm reminded me of my younger brother.
So I had to talk.
“Look, you know that guy you picked up does illegal business?” I asked him.
“Ah, I know now, Yahoo…”
“Yea, so why you dey envy am?”
“Does it matter? That one no matter na! I have finished NYSC, applied for jobs everywhere and I didn’t get any. I decided not to just sit at home, that’s why I am doing Uber with my Uncle’s car.”
“Is your uncle collecting any amount from you every week?”
“Nah, my uncle is a cool guy; he just gave me the car.”
“Listen, there are many people who would do anything to have an uncle like yours, but here you are ungrateful and envying criminals.
How long do you think that guy can continue? Why do you think he had money inside nylon bags in his house and not in the bank?
Even if he is not caught in the long run, is that the kind of life you want for yourself? Is that why your parents toiled to send you to school?”
I kept preached the gospel of ‘dignity in labour’ to the guy but even to myself, I didn’t sound convincing.
This is our culture in Lagos: ‘jaiye jaiye, eko for show’. Young people are not even perturbed, it’s all about getting the money. The end justifies the means, they say.
I was very sad by the time I got home. I have younger brothers and cousins. They are about finishing from the university or already serving Nigeria; what will they do when they come out of the system?
How can we convince young people that there is dignity in labour when all around them, criminality seems to be paying off?