We encounter them almost every day, unless we are privileged to have our own means of movement, their breath may not be the most desired, the body odor emanating from the sweat filled shirt determines the sitting position for many, they could be heard shouting “Accra Accra Accra, Legon Madina Old Road, Circ circ Kanesh, Lapaz Barrier Mallam Kasoa”. They keep shouting till they get the attention of any individual who intends to board their bus.
They present us with the best customer service; they take the load off the head of the women and place them in the car. If you are commuting with a young ward, they don’t hesitate to help him or her get on board. They are more beneficial in our part of the world than google map. They seem to know every nook and cranny of the society. The individual visiting the unknown place is required to mention the name of the place he intends to visit and trust them to either ensure you are dropped at the appropriate junction with some ‘take’ away instructions; (eg. Walk straight to the next junction; pick a car heading to Lapaz etc,).
They are good accountants; they don’t require a calculator to determine how much money they are supposed to give to you as change. They simply hand you your change while you are still calculating what is due you on your phone.
They are not always as useful as the above description may seem. I have had reason to tell some of them my piece of mind. They are sometimes arrogant; they address passengers in a rude manner. I recall one forcing a man off the vehicle because the man was wearing dirty attire. The man appeared to be a mechanic; this rude gentleman was impatient and spoke to the elderly man in a strange manner.
How about the instances when they try to hold on to your change? You hand him a note and he says he doesn’t have a change but still clings to the note. You either find a smaller denomination or leave your cash with him. Some are quite lazy; aside being lethargic when helping passengers with loads, they also exploit them by charging more.
They don’t work alone; they have bosses who anchor their ‘ship’. Their bosses don’t say much, focused on ‘beating’ traffic like they say and ensuring they take passengers to their destinations. They are always on hand when required to reprimand our good friends whom I spoke about earlier. There is nothing like a break or holiday for them. I have seen some park by the roadside and pass urine on their car tires. They go hours without taking in much; if they are fortunate, they settle on porridge for breakfast, rarely have lunch while supper remains a regular feature. In between breakfast and supper they feast on products provided by the next group I will be talking about shortly.
They, like their subordinates, are not always helpful. Some sit behind the wheel after heavy consumption of alcohol, they struggle to insert the key, ignite the engine and step on the accelerator. They succeed unfortunately to ‘pour the passengers away’ (translate to twi to grasp meaning). People lose their lives; families forever remain different as a result of their insolence.
The last group I will touch on is quite dear to my heart. It is very easy for one to see them; their ‘operation’ zone is illegal. Governments have over the years struggled to get them off this zone. They are on hand to provide water for the thirsty; they provide meals that may not be the most hygienic but provide a brief relief for the hungry as well as the products. They stand in the middle of the road when the traffic light is on a red, ready to be of service and quickly run to the side walk ways when it is a green.
My main concern with this group is the very fact that the items they provide are not the most hygienic (for the consumables). They are not left out of the exploitation craze as well; their operation zone makes it easier for them to inflate prices. They mention the price of their items and one has little time to negotiate. This helps them perpetuate such mischief. They sometimes risk their life when the light turns green, chasing cars hoping to get the cash from their customers. Must we thus pardon them? Hell No!
With less than 48 hours to Christmas, I headed to the Central Business District of Accra this morning and couldn’t help but notice of our friends mentioned above. They come across as a different kind of Father Christmas or Santa Claus (depending on where you ‘shooled’ like Caleb will say). You might as well pardon me if the description exceeds or falls short of your understanding of the tag ‘Father C’ or ‘Santa C’. I grew up with the understanding that this fictional quintessential charity major will one day pop up and hand me a bag containing gifts. While this is yet to happen, I appreciate our friends who hand us a different kind of gift.
While workers at various public offices head home for Christmas break, they will still be at post because we cannot do away with their service even within this festive season. They certainly earn income just like the other workers, but still stay on. I won’t hesitate to say some in their fold head for Christmas break like other workers.
We must also not forget the other service providers who stay on even during such holidays. They are the real father ‘christmases’ who appeal to me more than the fictional character I grew up expecting to meet.
As Christmas day draws near, I can’t help but refer to you my cherished reader as a Father Christmas as well. For I know you never head for a vacation; you are ready to read anytime I pen a piece.
Merry Christmas , I cherish you