06:25, I’m at Idu Train Station. Long queue. Almost as long as last Saturday’s. But it is moving. Hopeful. But no problem if I don’t make the first train. I have a lot of work to do on my computer.
As I lug my baggage on to the back of the queue, I meet a colleague. A very nice fellow. Long time. He stretches out his hand. But the handshake is too firm. He pulls me to the place in front of him in the queue.
– No, I can’t.
– Thanks, but No.
– You are my chief nah, just enter.
– Nope. I will go to the back of the line.
One has to resist little temptations like this. It is very important. Little drops…
Jumping the queue, bad as it is, has become so normalised in this country that people don’t even protest. You are not being nice if you say no. It’s a favour that is mutually expected.
A very close buddy of mine thinks that it is stupid to obey rules when others don’t. He believes that when things change in the future, it will make sense to follow the rules. I disagree. Things cannot change with indiscipline.
On the queue, the young lady in front of me turns back, furrows her brow: ABU?
– Well, Yes.
She looks faintly familiar.
– You were my teacher. You taught me Microbiology in the medical school. Good morning, sir.
– So, where are you now?
– I’m in Gwagwalada.
– Which specialty?
– I left Zaria in 2015.
– You are now in Abuja university?
– I run a training program for epidemiologists.
I hand out my card.
She introduces me to her husband.
The queue moves quickly. We are now almost at the ticket counter.
There is another couple behind me. The husband has been lamenting the corruption and wastage in Nigeria in musical Sokoto Hausa. But could be Zamfara. Sometimes, I can’t tell.
A friend of theirs who has just arrived comes straight and asks to join the queue. The guy says, ‘I hope the people behind won’t complain’.
– Haba, I’m going to see my supervisor in Kaduna nah.
As if that is enough justification not to do the right thing.
A nation of queue jumpers.
I’m now at the front.
I walk up to the counter and buy my ticket.
I go through security checks.
I refuse to use the lift. I climb up the stairs with my luggage. We are now all obsessed with physical activity. Who wan die?
On the train. Hot. Stuffy. AC is not on. We open the windows. The young Ear,Nose and Throat surgeon wonders whether the AC will eventually work. I tell them that it doesn’t always. I have been on the train three times when the coach had transformed into an oven because of generator failure.
Mercifully, the temperature begins to drop. The AC has been switched on.
The coach is rowdy. Loud arguments. Anger. Same seats have been allocated to different passengers. What is new? Happens all the time.
At Kubwa, several passengers join us. All seats taken. Many will have to stand for the next two hours. Many sit on the floor. Dey cannot coman goan kee demsef.