I was supposed to meet a group of friends at a bookstore and I was lost.
I had seen the place once before and I think that is the worst type of being lost, where you vaguely remember the location and you convince yourself that every turn is the right one, until it isn’t, then you convince yourself the next one is the right one. “I’m really sure this time, I remember this red house.”
After wandering around for 30 minutes, I started asking people.
I hadn’t read the city handbook that says you should never ask for directions in Lagos. I know better now.
My general experience was this: If I approached a person from their left, they would tell me the bookstore had to be on the right. “Keep going down, continue looking.”
If I approached the person from the right, they would tell me to go left. Every single time. Rather than tell me they didn’t know.
I wandered around in a few circles before wising up.
I am already not a nice person, but I realised this bookstore hunt was making me into a snob. I was stereotyping people as I walked around, deciding what type of person would know about a bookstore and what type of person wouldn’t.
Two men gathered around a stalled bus that was leaking engine oil. A third man climbed out from underneath the bus and handed them a greasy wrench. I had to decide if they would have bookstore knowledge or not.
And that was one of the easy ones.
I tried asking children assuming students would know where a bookstore was. No luck. All idiots.
I saw a well-dressed young man and categorised him as university educated, eager to show-off, entry level worker.
As I walked to him, he picked his nose, mining it thoroughly, then he rolled up the harvest between his thumb and forefinger and flicked the resulting ball into the wind. I heard it make a plink as it hit the window of a passing car.
I concluded he was illiterate.
Pretty woman. One piece dress. Makeup and painted nails. Disembarked from a new car. I cleared my throat and approached her slowly. I folded my cap in my hands like I had come to pay respects, and asked if she knew where the bookstore was.
She didn’t say a word.
She eyed me up, did a small head roll to spin me around in the air, then eyed me down.
I’ve been eyed by good eyers, but never this expertly.
She strode past me in high heeled boots as I struggled to catch my breath.