Last Sunday afternoon, Tim drove a couple of hours from his home to Keffi to see his dentist. He had arranged to visit his friend who was preparing a crown for him. When he got there, Tim discovered that the dental work was not ready and, because Monday is a busy day in the office, declined the invitation to stop over while the work was completed the next day. Instead, he returned to Jos on Sunday evening.
As he was getting close to Jos, he rounded a bend and ran over a large piece of metal which had been laid across the road. Both near side tyres were shredded. His immediate response was that armed robbers were at work, so he kept driving a short distance until he reached a group of houses. He stopped to examine the vehicle – no damage except the tyres – and a few people came to see what the trouble was. A couple of young guys offered to take Tim back to check the road and, when they returned, they discovered that a truck had broken down and, instead of using a trail of vegetation and a warning triangle to warn oncoming drivers (the normal procedure in Nigeria), the truck crew had simply dragged a big lump of iron off the truck and laid it across the road.
Having realised that they had caused a problem, the crew were skulking in the bushes but they were soon flushed out by the growing crowd of onlookers. Tim challenged them to make good the damage inflicted on our vehicle, which they point blank refused. So Tim did what many of us would have done – he called the police. They arrived, took one look at the scene and locked up the crew of the truck!
By now this was well into Sunday evening. Tim was offered a bed for the night by one of the locals and on Monday, he and the police contacted the truck owner who travelled to the scene. The owner admitted liability and offered to go and buy Tim some new tyres. This activity spread into Tuesday and resulted in Tim spending more than 48 hours away from work. Tim did manage to travel home on Monday, having first paid some local youths to guard our vehicle. Then, Tuesday morning saw an immediate return to wait with the vehicle. Once the tyres were fitted, another visit to the police was necessary to withdraw charges from the truck crew, before Tim could return to Jos.
Such is the speed of things in Nigeria. Why didn’t the dentist call Tim to say the crown wasn’t ready? Indeed, why didn’t Tim ring before he set off? Then why did it take 48 hours to get two tyres?
Sometimes I wonder why things take so long to happen in Jos. This was a timely reminder that the pace of everything is slightly different to our pace in Sheffield! A reminder that patience is an endearing quality and that, just because we move at breakneck speed in UK, the rest of the world does not have to follow suit.