Last week I sort of took off some guy’s side mirror. Like any self-centered Nairobi motorist, I was trying to be a moron and get ahead of him, because I just couldn’t wait.
My relationship with this guy started at an intersection; he wouldn’t let me in and I took great offence because, why would anyone not let me in?
I have a friendly face, my beard is well-trimmed and surely, you can tell that I’m Adventist so why on earth would anyone not want to let me in?
I rolled down my window and made eye contact with him; you know, a universal sign that says, “Dude, let me in, it’s me, a man, like you, it’s us against them; let me in!”
He was one of those chaps who wear screaming white shirts (maybe someone in financial services) driving a silver Passat. He wasn’t moved. He blocked me.
I have an underdeveloped road rage, you could call it benign road rage. I hang onto things on the road (and in real life – if you ask the right people).
Then it doesn’t help that I can be a damn elephant, I don’t forget easily.
So I didn’t forget this guy and soon I overtook him at some point and that, in my extremely juvenile thinking, seemed like a triumph.
I had won! Then I forgot that story, despite my aforementioned memory of an elephant.
At the roundabout ahead, our paths crossed again. I was in the wrong lane and as we left this crowded roundabout, bumper to bumper, I started forcing my way into a different lane (by now you can tell I’m not the guy to lend your car), and guess who was on my left?
Yup, Mr White Shirt! I hit his side mirror with my side mirror and it flipped backwards, bending like a broken knee.
Of course I was on the wrong. I was driving a much cheaper car than his – about two million cheaper – so my side mirror probably costs the price of three trays of eggs.
We came out of our cars. I want you to pay attention to what transpired and see the stark difference between bumping into a female driver and ramming into a male driver.
I have hit three female drivers in my over a decade of driving and let’s just say that what usually follows is worse than having your tooth broken in half during extraction.
So after I hit Mr White Shirt, we got out of our cars and converged at the side of the cars to inspect the damage.
He wasn’t amused, naturally. I, on the other hand, was embarrassed and felt like a wazook. He was calm; irritated, yes, but calm.
“How do you want us to handle this?” he asked.
“Without the cops,” I replied.
He took some pictures using his phone and did something I have never even thought of. He said he didn’t have a pen, but if I could speak into his phone recorder and state my full name, ID number, the date and location and say what happened and accept liability we could use that as a signed submission.
I obliged. I asked him how much he thought it would cost and he said he wasn’t sure.
Then he asked me what I do and I told him I’m a lowly struggling journalist who would have to sell his son to fix his swanky car, but only he could save the poor boy from the auctioneer’s hammer.
It made him laugh. He said he had a son too – three years old.
“Oh, so you never have food in the house?” I asked him and he laughed again. Now the tension was gone and we looked like we could even catch a pint one day, now that we both had sons and we both never have food in the house.
WHAT A DAY!
We exchanged phone numbers and shook hands as he promised to call me with the costs by the end of the day.
We stood there for only 10 minutes or less. He never once raised his voice. He never looked at me like filth. He was never rude.
He didn’t call “babe” or “sweetie” or whoever it is that women call when involved in a small accident that can be sorted through dialogue.
Based on my last experience after hitting a woman on Marcus Garvey Road, oh, this was a holiday!
He didn’t call at the end of that day. Neither did he call the day after. On the third day I called him and he told me that his side mirror never really broke, that it was put back in place easily.
Can you believe this guy!? Decent guy, John Wokabi.
I am willing to bet a lot of money that if it was a woman it wouldn’t have ended this way. She would have tried to make my life as uncomfortable as she could.
It may even have been turned into a gender issue: oh you took out my side mirror because I’m a woman. Oh, I will call my husband/ boyfriend now and report you to him.
I have said this before, and it doesn’t hurt to repeat it here. Ladies it’s an accident. It’s never intentional.
Men don’t wake up and say, “You know what would make my day great today? To hit a woman’s car.”
Lastly, it’s just a car. Made from – what my grandmother would say if I’m to translate it directly, “a man’s hands.” Cars can get fixed. Cars will get fixed. It’s not the end of the world.
Breathe in. Just breathe. Imagine it will be all right. And stop calling your man.