By Kate Henshaw
Never one to back down from a challenge or be told that I cannot accomplish nor do something or behave a certain way because of my status as a “celeb” in the society, the moment presented itself where I had to prove to myself that what people perceive I am or the trappings of my lifestyle did not define my persona and I was impressed with my reaction.
I had been in Abuja for a few days and decided to return on Sunday the 6th of November. The roads were as good as dead riding to the Abuja International airport to board my Lagos bound Arik flight for 11:55am as it was a public holiday. We took off 15mins past the hour of 12noon. I promptly fell asleep on the plane as I was dead tired and had not slept well in the past two days. The flight landed 50mins later at the local wing of the Muritala Mohammed Airport known as MM1. I and other passengers boarded the bus that would take us to the arrival hall to retrieve our luggage. I spotted a friend, Lateef in the bus and we chatted about things in general and he informed me that Abuja was now his base but that he just came into Lagos for a few days to see his children.
On getting to the Arrival hall, the chaos started almost immediately. There were very few seats vacant as another Airline had deposited its passengers and they were yet to pick up their luggage. We found two empty seats at the second row of chairs in the hall and sat down. I looked round the arrival hall and it reminded me of a holding area for cargo. Lateef however referred to it as a space for refugees awaiting transfer to camp. There was no light in one half of the hall as the bulbs were dead and also the ceiling fans were not working. He started sweating profusely and when I laughed at him, he retorted and said “I am not used to this kind of heat” to which I replied, “you do not belong in this country then”.
Twenty minutes later, our luggage arrived and we picked them up, shared a trolley to exit the terminal and catch our separate rides to our destinations.
His driver was waiting; I did not have one, having fired the last one I had since September for his lackadaisical attitude to work and insolence. I had decided to take a break from finding another one just yet to prevent me having to pull out all my hair follicles.
Hard as it was for me, driving round to different places on my own, trying to find good parking spaces at the different locations, I stuck to my guns and I have managed quite well so far. It is a good thing to once in a while leave your comfort zone and go in to the wild so to speak. I was escorted to the taxi park where I would hire a taxi home.
Oh by the way, the local airport was quite dead too and looked like it was awaiting reconstruction. Some areas were cordoned off and my friend informed me that a contract had been awarded worth several billions of naira to remodel the airport. About time too I thought to myself but billions? Na wa o. I hope nobody was trying to enrich themselves through this project but that would be wishful thinking, not so? Considering the kind of country we live in.
Anyway, on getting to the park, I enquired about the fare to my destination which was Lekki and was told some ridiculous amount. The driver of the taxi said “Ah madam nah holiday today o”. What did that mean? So a holiday meant a hike in fares? The road would be totally free with barely any traffic so why would I pay more when I would be getting to my destination quicker? I refused the amount and was directed to another car who had accepted the fare but the driver looked suspicious to me and tattered in his dressing. I put my luggage in the car and he did not move a few yards before he proceeded to behave in a very funny manner so I asked him to pull over and I got down with my luggage and started to trek down the road to find a suitable taxi. He shouted after me” madam I am your fan o, you no go see motor o”. I did not listen to him.
I walked down all the way to the round about that would lead to the MM2. I was followed by another lady who also did not agree to be fleeced by the exorbitant fare and we shared a taxi to Maryland where I boarded another taxi for the right fare and got home safe and sound.
To a few people who saw me dragging my luggage along the road, they must have thought that I had fallen on hard times and hence could not afford the fare or that I must have been crazy. I was taking a stand and proving to myself that I had to be frugal with my money, after all I did not have a money tree at the back of my home.
I would not be coerced into presenting a false impression. I work hard for every penny I have and would not just throw it away. It has nothing to do with being stingy which of course I am not. It is just a principle.