I should start another blog titled taxi stories. This particular day, I was in the front seat next to the window. It was time to pay up, and I passed a 20,000 shilling note behind me to the conductor.
When I was about to approach my stage, I said aloud, “Conductor, balance”.
After a few seconds when he hadn’t responded, I said again, “Conductor, balance? I’m almost at my stage”.
Silence. Irritated, I turned around and glared at the conductor. I thought for a second he was a bit smartly dressed for the job, but oh well. Maybe it was his birthday.
“Ssebo, I’m almost getting out. My balance”.
“I’m not the conductor”, he said patiently.
“Well, where is he then?” I asked, glancing around. Blank faces met my gaze for several seconds before someone explained.
“There is no conductor in this taxi”.
I begun to get a very bad feeling.
“Who’s been collecting money then?” I asked quietly.
“You’re supposed to give money to the driver”.
Oh, please no.
“I…” I begun to stammer. “I…” The words couldn’t come out.
“Someone behind me took my 20,000 shillings!” I managed to gasp.
Collective gasps echoed around me.
“Bambi..sorry…nga olabye…iiiiyyyyyiiiiii!” and similar sentiments followed. My co-passengers explained to me that the man who had just left the taxi must have been the one with the money.
I had reached my stage. Resignedly, I turned to face the driver.
“Ssebo…” I started weakly.
“Tofaayo”, he said, before letting me out and speeding off.
I have mob respect for the passenger who quietly took my 20,000 shillings and snuck out of the taxi.