This weekend, my old car rattled to a stop three kilometres from Mlolongo on the Nairobi Mombasa highway. Puncture! But in the process of fixing that puncture, my jack malfunctioned. It gave in the process of jacking up the car to change the tyre.
I stood by the roadside waving down motorists for one hour. None stopped. Some even flashed their lights at me in that Kenyan motorist’s get-out-of-way-you-idiot way.
Perhaps they were afraid I was a gangster, but at 2pm, in broad daylight, on a busy highway with lots of human activity on the side of the road? Surely!
The drivers could clearly see me wave, notice my hazard lights blinking but look straight ahead pretending to see nothing.
But as they drew abreast, they would steal a quick sideways glance and notice the flat tyre and the mangled jack. By then it would be too late so they sped on, I suspect, feeling a little ashamed.
They were invariably middle class – a group that is the best educated and most individualistic around. They drove past;a beautiful wife in the passenger seat, cute kids in the back-seat, fuel in the tank, money in the pocket.
They didn’t stop because they were afraid or don’t care. Or maybe they had such confidence in their abilities to secure their little world and maintain their comforts that they couldn’t figure out why anyone would need help.
That indifference, the total disinterest in what goes on around them, the smug confidence that they can take care of themselves, is the reason we are a pathetic society of motoring “jerks”!
The new traffic laws should at least try to instill a human face on motorists by compeling them to assist and symphathise with fellow motorists who are stranded on the road out of minor defects like a mangled jack that has served a “life sentence” on my antiquated junk.
The the mboys in blue pulled by my side of the road in their trademark white top,navyblue landcruiser and I knew I was “cooked”!
Habari Mzee. Unajua ni hatia kusimama karibu na uwaja wa ndege?(How are u old man. Do you that it is illegal to stop near the Airport?
I explained my predicament hoping to reduce my impending life sentence to at least twenty years lap so that I can at least see my grandchildren when out on parole.
I could smell hell!
Then the heavens opened! The cop driver offered me their jack and-you won’t believe this-helped me change the wheel!
Wait! I’m not finished yet;we exchanged phone numbers and they quipped about me inviting them for Xmas this season to return the favour. No bribe,no harassment. I thought this only happens on the movies!
Courtesy from the most unexpected quarter made me believe that cops afterall are still human…may be it is my fellow motorists who aren’t!