Like I said in Part 1, my cab guy works small miracles for a small fee. I’m never mad to pay him; he earns every single penny. It also helps that he’s hopelessly honest and pretty damn focused. 20 something with several cars in several cities; you can’t hate on that if you tried.
So that Friday morning, he was getting his insurance papers sorted out; all those PSV stickers that make no sense to the layman. He then took his car for servicing and spared no expense ensuring his vehicle was up to standard.
The good thing about sober, focused taxi drivers is that they know exactly how to avoid trouble; it’s not by driving faster or using the backroad. It’s not by bribery or lying. It’s by doing your job and shutting up.
By 10am, he was done with ensuring his vehicle was legal and up to par and running checks on his other cars and drivers. He drove out of Adams and before he got to the roundabout, a lady flagged him down.
She didn’t say anything beyond that. So he began driving towards town. When he got to the Kenyatta avenue round-a she said “Globe Cinema”. She wasn’t chatty and had no intention of playing nice. He didn’t mind. Halfway up K-Ave, his phone rang to life. It was me. I explained my conundrum and he calmed me down and told me he’d send someone.
He calls his friend and sends him my way. Right at that time, he sees a waving black baton being flailed by a chubby officer of the law. To his relief, the cops qualm was with the car behind him. The lady in the backseat was so deep in her newspaper that she didn’t notice this slight potential hiccup. For the non-Kenyans, talking on your phone while driving here is illegal (whereas most illicit drugs aren’t). When you’re caught, it seldom ends well.
Anyway, he drops her off where she’s going and begins logging the details of the trip and stashing the money. She may not have been much of a personality, but she paid well. 2,000/=. His first and only money of the day.
Then his phone rings again. This time, he parks and then picks up. It’s his fellow comrade whom he had sent my way explaining that he had just gotten pulled over by cops. Since he was relatively close by, he began darting my way.
After successfully dropping me off at my destination, he logged the details again and then began slowly heading back. He didn’t get far before he ran into the same trouble his friend earlier had run into. Police check. Like all men who keep their papers in order, he was a little startled, but quite confident. So he pulled to the side of the road and waited as the officer perused the fresh new stickers on the windscreen. Then the cops disappointed frown turned into an evil sneer.
The long and short of it is that he was missing a sticker and for this reason, Mr. Officer had decided to not only make his life miserable, but to drag this on for as long as possible. The fact that makes this sad is that he actually had this sticker in the car. It’s just that in a moment of absent-mindedness, he forgot to stick it on. This did not matter to the officer who continued to probe and torture him for all the money they could get out of him. When left with the choice between getting locked up and having to pay a total of 7,500 to get out or bribing the officer with about 2,000, he chose the latter. Very reluctantly.
At 6pm, he drove out of the Nairobi Central Police Station with little more than 50/= to his name and no petrol in his car.