The ideal execution of law and morality is black and white; the reality is all grey.
Under Kenyan law, a minibus should shuttle a maximum of 14 passengers.
To contravene this, both the minivan’s owners and infringing passengers would be heavily fined.
MORAL DILEMMA: #1 CHIVALRY
On the morning in question, I left home a bit later than usual.
This of course meant I got to my bus stage with the sun showing her face, and with a number of people ready for the race to the city.
So we waited,it being the peak of the morning, we soon were a tidy crowd waiting for a bus.
Is there room for chivalry in public transport?
Actually, there is a grey area, you let one,two, three, four and on the fifth one you cut in because I mean then you would just be late and a gentleman’s never late! 🙂
This is what I did, and we soon were filled to capacity, me being last to get on, being chivalrous and all. No sooner had I sat than a girl magically came on board.
MORAL DILEMMA #2: I should get off the bus, being Mr. Chivalrous, and get late to work having to wait a couple more minutes.
I was on the bus. It was now in motion. My face went grey. You know how cats squeeze themselves into unbelievably tiny spaces? The girl came and sat next to me.
MORAL DILEMMA #3 AND LEGAL DILEMMA #1
I was displeased. Not by the girl, but by the thought of paying a fine and losing half my day at the police station.
So I raised my voice. The conductor ordered for his fare (full price no squeeze discount) and said “tupendane” which is Swahili for “Let’s love one another”.
I became angry. Love? Really? I told him off! He offered the girl his seat and as we swerved through the backroads to avoid traffic police, he asked the driver to allow him to go into the next bus, murmuring something about someone spoiling his morning.
Before things went too far though, someone got off at their stop and resolved the impasse.
What remained with me though, was the conspiracy of silence.
We are a grey people. No one said a word through the whole exchange, and at some point I began feeling guilty about being petty. Like I was being noisy early in the morning, and that I should just sit out the short ride if I were displeased with it, for the sake of peace.
We are a people with a very high threshhold of grey. Woe unto us if this threshhold is breached. Then it will all fade to black.