I went to Old Skool Nightclub last night with my American friends, John and Tori, a Sierra Leonean friend, James, and an Awoko colleague, Ophaniel Gooding. Originally, today’s edition of Through the Eyes of ‘U’ was meant to be about my experience there, but – with all due respect to Old Skool, a fine venue – I feel compelled to instead write about the last 45 minutes or so of the night which overshadowed any other fun I had in the four or five hours before (a column on my night at Old Skool is still forthcoming later this week).
This particular incident, if nothing else, taught me that there existed an entirely different level of ‘stubbornness’ which I never knew was possible. While I uncover this story, I want readers to keep in mind the following American saying: “As stubborn as a mule.” It’s a phrase to describe someone who is so stubborn and inflexible that they will never, ever, admit when they are in the wrong.
After several exhausting hours at Old Skool, we decided to cap off the night by going to Paddy’s for a little while. So the five of us and our driver, another Awoko colleague named Bakar, headed to Aberdeen for the final hurrah of the night.
However, upon arriving at Paddy’s, even at the late hours of the night (or the early hours of the morning, depending how you look at it), the club was packed and there was a considerable amount of traffic as taxis and other cars tried to squeeze into the main parking lot.
John and Tori and I were fairly tired anyway, so after sitting traffic for a few minutes we decided to turn around and go home. And here’s where the ‘controversy’ took place:
We were on a two-way street with cars lining up both behind us and in the other lane going the opposite direction, so it’s not as if we could reverse or turn into the adjacent lane to turn around; our only option was to go straight past Paddy’s until we could change directions.
The car ahead of us was turning right into Paddy’s, so once there was enough room, Bakar started to go around the car and we were nearly home-free. But at the same time that we went around the car in front of us, a driver trying to turn left out of the Paddy’s parking lot dipped into our lane and eventually our two cars were face-to-face.
The other car was trying to get into the lane going the opposite direction as us, but there was traffic holding up cars in that lane as well, so all of a sudden we were confronted with an unnecessary standoff.
Now, keep in mind that our car can’t go anywhere: Left, right, backward, you name it – there were cars surrounding us in every direction. The opposing driver, however, had an entire empty road behind him (because he was in our lane faced the wrong way!); if he would just back up a few meters, we could drive right by him and the problem would be instantly solved. Yet, for some reason, the driver refused to move.
He and the passenger sitting next to him even had the nerve to recline their seats back and put their hands behind their heads, as if to say: “Complain all you want; we are NOT going to move.”
I was utterly shocked… SHOCKED. In my time in Salone, I’ve had my share of ‘eyebrow-raising’ moments, but this was easily my first ‘jaw-dropping’ experience. I just couldn’t believe it; it’s like the driver didn’t want to concede defeat – like it was a game – by moving. To me, this wasn’t some game; it was traffic!
All the while, Bakar, Ophaniel and James were either outside or sticking their head out the window and shouting at the opposing driver, demanding that he move. Even John’s blood was boiling so much that he wanted to go outside and join the arguing.
Ophaniel, after seeing the expression on my face, smiled and said, “We’re arguing with him right now, trying to get him to move. But if it weren’t for you guys (John, Tori and I) wanting to go home, we would be here until the sun rises, just staring at each other.”
It really puts the saying, “As stubborn as a mule,” into perspective.
Much to my delight, as Bakar, Ophaniel and James continued to shout at the driver and his passenger – who eventually rolled up their windows to ignore the arguing – several other people who were intently observing the incident came to our aid and started pointing and yelling at the driver. Eventually, there were a good nine or ten people surrounding the opposing car.
Tori, meanwhile, was amazed that not one person threw a punch, despite the fact that they were all in each others’ faces and angrily squabbling. I agreed, as I could easily imagine a similar situation in the states escalating much faster to fist-fighting.
After a good half an hour of yelling and demanding, the driver finally moved… forward, nonetheless. Persistent ‘til then end, instead of backing up, the driver forced his way into the adjacent lane, almost hitting a motorcyclist in the process of doing so.
As he passed our car, the driver gave us all a glaring look as John greeted him with a mean look of his own and Ophaniel continued to shout back.
As we finally turned around and headed back home, the upset and angry aura almost immediately turned into smiles and laughs.
“That was really funny,” John said.
Just as Bakar dropped us off and John and Tori and I got out of the car, a heavy downpour of rain started to fall.
“Yu! It’s showers of blessings for you guys!” Ophaniel said.
Indeed, we were surely blessed with quite the jaw-dropping, laugh-when-you-look-back-at-it experience.
By Yu Nakayama