Rules of the Road

Evilness cannot be properly gauged by the sneer on one’s face. Nor can it be judged by the deftness exhibited while twirling the tip of a particularly villainous ‘stache. It cannot be found in the number of lackeys trailing behind, nor in the possession of an earth-destroying supermachine. Evilness is a delicate thing, and can only truly be teased out in one place:

Public transportation.

I am unsure I’ve ever spent more time in a moving vehicle, publically shared or not, than I have in Cameroon. Hours upon hours have passed watching the road pass below me through rusted floorboards, or holding my breath to avoid the exhaust of an upcoming semi-truck we’re daring to pass on a bend.

And in that time, I’ve been able to come up with a few rules for determining if you’re a good person.

1. If we’re in a taxi, we’re already miserable. If two people are in the back, and none in the front, you need to take that front seat, buddy. If you instead decided to squeeze in with us in the back, you’re a bad person.

2. If we’re on a bus and you’re the aisle seat, your leg room is practically infinite and you should stretch accordingly. Reach for the stars! (As long as it is away from my seat) If your selfish self gets all akimbo on me, the very limited-spaced window seat traveler, you’re a bad person.


3. Baton de manioc (bobolo in pidgin) possesses a gut-wrenching stinky-feet aroma. It’s gelled Birkenstocks, wrapped in leaves. If you decided to pick some up on the way and store it in our vehicle, you’re a bad person.


4. If we’re on a motorcycle together and I don’t know you, don’t rest your hands on my knees. It’s gross, and you’re a bad person.


5. If you’re a volunteer on a motorcycle, and we’re riding together, get your big-ass helmet out of my face. If we’re clanking together the entire ride because you don’t know how to stagger helmets? I’m going to think slightly less of you, though you’re probably not a bad person.


6. If you’re ‘that person’ who refuses to get up so I can get access to the aisle, and instead slightly angles your legs as though that’ll provide me with ample room to get off this god-forsaken vehicle, you’re a bad person. And I’m going to put my butt right in your face as I shuffle by.


7. If it’s 90 degrees outside and you refuse to open a window, you’re a bad person. If it’s raining outside and 60 degrees and you refuse to close your window, you’re a bad person.


8. If you complain to the driver that I’m getting Whiteman privilege because I got a good seat and you did not, despite my arrival at 6:30 am and your arrival at 10 am, you’re a bad person. I will luxuriously eat and drink and sleep in my fantastic seat while you grumble several rows back, a victim of that crappy half-seat they make people sit on.

8. If you randomly purchase five pineapples, hand me one, and then exit the bus after wishing me a good day, you’re a really, really good person. Thanks, random guy, the pineapple was delicious.


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