Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The roundabout menace.

On a sunny Tuesday afternoon, as I drove my sister around for hours we approached the industrial area roundabout which was thick with mid-morning traffic. As our car moved along at a snail pace all the way from electoral commission offices at the Jinja road traffic lights, there was little wiggle room on either side for even the most gifted boda boda rider and we all know there are quite a few in Kampala city.

As I sat in the driver’s seat and went around the roundabout, I got to the turn heading towards Nsambya and I was clearly in front of the pack when all of a sudden my sister who was seated in the co-driver’s seat and I heard a lady’s voice.

Lady driver: “Excuse me!” she said.

No response came from my sister because she did not think the lady driver next to us but a few inches behind was talking to her. In all honesty she could barely catch sight of her at the corner of her eye as the young lady driver attempted to cut in line from out of nowhere.

Lady driver: “Excuse me!” she said as she further lowered her window looking quick frazzled.

My sister: “Yes….” she responded still pretty confused and wondering what the lady would want to discuss in the middle of this downtown Kampala mayhem.

Lady driver: “Do you mind letting me go ahead of you?” she asked as she wore a straight face
My sister: “I beg your pardon,” said my sister to the lady driver.

Now at this point I began to smile, not because her request was comical in anyway but rather because I was mulling over whether I should give her a hard time or not. I must state for a fact that I am not one to exhibit road rage but at this point I thought for a second, she did not even say hello or how are you doing? It was straight to what she needs but as I silently pondered over this there was her voice going off again.

Me: “Excuse me, can I go before you, ….if you don’t mind,” she asked very impolitely a second time as she paused waiting our response.

Now we were backed up really tight in bumper to bumper jam at the turn off to Nsambya from the roundabout when she asked us this but the cars way ahead of us had started to move. My sister conveyed her request on to me and I loosed my seat belt and leaned forward to get a better look at her. No she was not old/ mature, she did not have a sick child in the back seat, she was not wearing spectacles and she did not have an ‘L’ for learner on any side of her motor vehicle.

My sister was as stunned which led her to ask me, “so does she think we also want to stay here at the roundabout in jam for the whole day?”

Me: “I have no idea what is going through her mind right now.”

My sister: “But Ugandan drivers can be so selfish on the road, why can’t she wait her turn?”

Me: “I have no idea.”

My sister: “Anyway, after all she asked and even though her request was rather rude let’s let her pass.”

Me: “Hhhhmm okay just this once.”

I swerved sideways leaving just enough room for her to get into the already tight queue as I smiled in her direction not from happiness but utter shock at how selfish she could be.

My sister: “So would you have let her go if I was not in the car with you?”

Me: “Definitely not,” I responded swiftly.

She burst out laughing at the top of her lungs so much so that the driver next to us peered through his window wondering what was so funny. I waved back at him as he continued to stare and I sped off. The moral of the story is men, do not allow your madam, sister, daughter to drive on Kampala roads if she is not up to the task. This city is a big bad place and not every driver will be this nice to her she can also be a menace to every other road user. Food for thought.

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