July 6, 2007
*Special Guest appearance by N. Lesaux
When teaching children that you can’t believe everything you hear or read, I might use the example that in some countries, like Ghana, roosters crow much before dawn. A good segue to a more serious discussion about people bending the truth a little or a “rule of thumb” that doesn’t always apply.
On a typically hot Friday, in an eastern Ghana crowded tro-tro park, Trish, Graeme, and I arrived on our return to Kumasi. Reportedly, there was a tro-tro leaving imminently. I deemed the tro-tro in question to be "full"; it appeared two to a seat. But, the mate who deals in tro-tro logistics ensured Graeme—a trusting guy—there was space for us and our sturdy, Canadian-made packs. It wasn’t in our best interest to express doubt.
With the work of three men, our packs were compressed into new shapes, and the back doors barely closed. Our eyes on the luggage and Trish buying a baggie of popcorn (a harbinger, really), we were clearly focused on the wrong things. Inside the seemingly full tro-tro, a heated conversation in Twi between the mate and passengers was taking place. In just seconds, before we could see exactly what was happening, there was a flurry of honking and the tro-tro, now carrying our packs, drove across the chaotic parking lot where the heated discussion escalated. We quickly followed. With passengers on their seats’ edges waving their tickets, Trish asks, “What’s the problem here?” Various folks explain that they have purchased tickets, yet the mate tells them at least one person has to get off. Borrowing Trish’s words, many exclaim “it’s not fair,” and Trish reassures them they have a seat.
Next, Graeme (like Alexander having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day) is whisked into the middle seat of the front row, where he sat motionless for several hours so as not to shift gears for the driver. Still at the door, Trish and I were insistent we wouldn’t bump anyone off. The mate motioned for each of us to take a jumpseat at the door. Maybe the mate isn’t riding? Nope, he was riding and took it upon himself to share Trish’s jumpseat; by journey’s end, the three of us were busy naming capital cities of countries worldwide.
The ride itself was entirely uneventful. In hindsight, there wasn’t room for three, white or black. And, as someone who advocates for people with disabilities, I can’t help but worry about the dwarf who disembarked from the tro tro as the scene in the park started to brew… (N)