LESSONS FROM A TAXI DRIVER

My daily commute to work by taxi has been a norm for me over the past couple of years. This particular day was not any different. I was greeted by a seemingly eager, elderly and somewhat cheerful taxi driver who was happy to take me where I was going (for the right consideration of course). I must confess that I did not think much of his beaming smile and seemingly weird optimism or maybe you can call it happiness at that point. I was just focused on how the sun was burning my skin and trying to get to work on time (which I did, by the way…just in case anyone from the office is reading this).

Anyway, I got into the taxi and literally within a couple of minutes, this elderly man goes “ah my sister, this life is nothing”– okay, back up. I remember how we got there. He had told me he’d take me to work for a certain amount, but I kept on insisting that he could do it for a lower price. Agreeing to my price, I got into the taxi and mumbled something like “Oga, don’t worry, I no go cheat you. Na wetin I dey pay everyday” (let’s not go into how bad my pidgin is) to which he replied “ahh, no wahala, na just money. I know my sister. Ah, my sister, this life is nothing o”. And then without warning, he delved into a deep personal expression about the meaninglessness and irony of life.

At first, I was more concerned about his always wanting to turn to face me in the back seat where I was seated to look me in my eyes as he narrated his life story. More than once, I almost blurted out “Oga, please be looking at the road abeg” but he seemed to know the route so well, or maybe I just gave up and silently hoped we would not hit anyone’s car. After a while, I just decided to listen…and listen I did good.

I learned so much from this happy old man and he seemed so happy to impart so much of his experience and knowledge to me. He expressed quite a number of things in just 15 minutes but I’ll just share some in as close to his words as I can remember:

God is everything

I was quite surprised when he started with this and he said “My sister, see, in this life, God is everything we have, not money, not good health, not house, not car…If I tell you say as I dey so, na four houses I dey own for this abuja between 2004-2011 in this Abuja, you go believe me? People no dey believe me when I tell dem. I just know say this life, after everything disappear, na God be everything. If you hold on to this God, he no go disappoint you. Na why I dey trust God everyday.Na why I dey happy because I no say even though things dey rough or I no get money, I know say I go be fine because God dey. I believe am”

At this point I was speechless.

Life is unpredictable/Money is not everything

He went on to say something like “Hmm, my sister, you know when I know say money na nothing? You know when I know say this life na nothing? Na when I dey for one of my houses one day I just fall sick, ordinary small sick, I enter hospital, I no even know which kain sickness, before I know am, we done sell one house to pay for hospital. Then we come sell the second and the third and all the house wey I get. Before I know it all my savings and house, na on hospital. I dey hospital for many months na when I realize say if I die today, I no go carry any of those house or money with me. All my friends and family wey dey depend on me, I see say, if I die, na just 2 hours dem go take mourn me. People wey go even mourn maybe na because dem dey gain from me so e pain dem because I no dey alive anymore for dem to chop.” I laughed at the truth in this. “My sister, this life ehn, me I don see say you never know. Na to just thank God for everyday wey I get.”

I am not about to say money is not everything because money does help. ALOT! But sometimes, as human beings, we get so so stressed out about money, and to be fair the times are hard, school fees need to be paid and things do not seem to be getting better. But think about it this way; if you developed a high blood pressure or some sort of illness because of how stressed out you were about money which then escalated into something bigger, you can’t stress about money when you’re not alive. I really learned from this old man to just take one step at a time and one day at a time. We get so caught up in chasing money that we forget to kiss and hug our loved ones or tell them we love them, to enjoy life a little or just have time to do the things we actually enjoy. While money is a key component of life, there’s more to life than just money. Hence, money is not everything.

Where there is a will, there is a way

“Ah my sister, when I comot hospital, look around, nobody dey! nobody at all. Na when I know, this life ehn, nobody know tomorrow. The work wey I dey do, dem don carry another person. I no get house, no car, no money, nothing! I dey try find work, nothing come. E be like say make I just give up. Sister, e be like say, make I just die for that hospital. I been dey reason am. Where I go start from? Something just tell me, make I try call people. I try call people, I dey find work for months, nobody answer me!

Na God just bring this man wey been dey help me. He talk say ‘you fit drive car? I get one fairly used car wey I no dey use.’ I answer am say ‘yes na! I fit drive car’. Na so he bring the car for me, new car wey no give me trouble for many months so I use am oo. I use am well to dey do taxi. I work so many days I no dey sleep. I dey sleep for inside car. I just believe say I go make am. Na so I gather small money, I come buy smaaaall plot of land for just outside Abuja side, come build one room. Before you know it, people dey look me say ‘This your God wey you dey serve, na good God ooo!” Now I don dey do my taxi. As you see me like this, no be because I get money or anything but I get God and I get life so good something must come everyday.”

Wow.

No matter how bleak a situation may be, and right now, you may not really feel like hearing this, but do not give up. Where there is a will, there is a way. As long as there is life in you, you can make something great out of this life. This elderly taxi driver was still so cheerful and positive even after all the misfortunes (which of course, is not the easiest thing to do) but he had great hope for the future and for life, and you can be assured, great things will come to those who are ready for it. Do not give up.

These were some of the lessons I learned from that wise taxi driver on my trip to work that sunny morning. All of a sudden, the sun did not seem so hot anymore and I welcomed the warmth on my skin as I got down from the taxi to start my day.

Most of the taxi drivers I use to make my commute to work every morning live around my area. I recognize some and some recognize me (the regular greeters). But this taxi driver, I had not seen before.

I am yet to see that taxi man again.

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