You’re a fucking bastard!

I said that to someone’s father! I had uttered those words before realizing I’d gotten too far. I don’t even cuss in real life! That’s not been me in over 10 years. But I had crossed the line — I had gone public with road rage! But I may have crossed the line because this man, whom I exchanged words with just hit my side mirror. Do you know how many months I saved to buy this car? And now an idiot just broke my side mirror.

I got home that Thursday thinking about the events of the evening; in particular, the words that spilled out of my mouth and my behavior in public. It wasn’t till then I realized things could have been handled better. And I actually messed up, irrespective of who was right and who was wrong. This experience or similar is what you face as an average Lagosian who drives frequently in traffic prone areas.

I, like millions of working-class Lagosians spend an average of 3 hours, 30 minutes in traffic daily. That’s enough to shorten your lifespan(no jokes). Meanwhile, for some people, living closer to work does not count as a solution ‘because cost of housing’.

Typical Lagos traffic

With time, I have learned so much about how to make full use of those seemingly wasteful and stressful periods in traffic. I have also learned how to stay calm in the midst of it all. My learnings are both channeled at both drivers and passengers in traffic.

Practice Gratitude

Shift your mindset. One way you can do that is by practicing gratitude! James Altucher, in an article I once read mentioned how to change your mindset in seemingly unfavorable situations. He mentioned changing your thinking in traffic to something like this and I modify the quote, “Lagos State is so full of opportunities that so many people move to Lagos to seek these opportunities. I am fortunate to be one of these people”.

Practice Empathy

Let’s face it, the Lagos life is really hard. Really hard. But do you know that the next guy is trying to hustle, just like you’re trying to hustle. Maybe in varying degrees, maybe in varying fields. Cost of housing is high. Many people don’t sleep past 4 hours a night. Many Lagosians are unhappy people. That guy driving crazy just had a quarrel with his wife, the other one just realized he’s broke, he lives super far away from where he’s going, or he’s mentally ill without even knowing.

So, sometimes, you just have to let go. The guy is going to die pretty young anyways(if all they say about Lagos life expectancy is true). Have some empathy for your neighbor.

Fear, insecurity and a bruised ego

We don’t want to let that stupid-looking person into our front in traffic. After all, you’ve been in traffic just like he has. Now he wants to ‘chance’ you and move in front. So your reaction, Oh Lagos driver, is to bone face, make sure he doesn’t ‘enter your front’! The cause of many accidents in Lagos!

What you’re doing is exposing a deep seated weakness. This weakness disguised as a ‘don’t chance me’ is fear, insecurity or bruise of ego.

Why not just let the person in.

What ends up happening most times is that we dive in the same mud these uneducated minds play in. Someone needs to be more mature. No, don’t say ‘this time, I don’t care about maturity’. JUST BE MORE MATURE.

You feel like you’re being taken advantage of. That’s your ego right there! Why do you even need one bruv!

Time vs Presence

So, you’re in a hurry. You need to get to that place super fast. So you’re driving like a maniac, trying to get your car into the lane once the unknown scumbag doesn’t realize cars are moving already. The other lane starts moving, you switch on your trafficator at the same time you slot yourself into the lane. We’ve all done it. Okay, I have done it all.

Time waits for no man. In Lagos especially, time counts more than it does anywhere in the world. But you also need to realize that the time will stand still when you hit another car. So a solution I would proffer will be to be present. Be behind your steering. Be on your seat. Present there! Don’t think about your destination. Don’t even ‘think’ about the journey. Just be in the journey. Savour the journey. You may even be late. KEEP CALM! There’s nothing you can do about you being late. Just be present!

Sleep

Lagosians lack sleep! Lack of sleep is directly linked to reduction in cognitive abilities, wrong decision making- impaired judgement(did you read that well?), and according to WebMD, causes accidents. When you sleep more, you’re likely to be more calm and make better judgement.

Some Lagosians like to feel like we are all in a race though!

Drivers, save yourself fuel

You use up more fuel when you are trying to cover up your lane so the next person doesn’t enter or when you trying to maneuver into the next lane by force. By jumping the accelerator that way, you’re squeezing out more juice than you normally would. That alone should make you chill. You know, in order to accelerate your car quickly, your engine has to move faster. The faster a piston has to oscillate, the greater the force that the bearings are subjected to. The work required to pull air into and out of the cylinders through the valves is much greater at high RPMs. Too much fuel, man!

Be productive

Use the opportunity to return calls, reply text messages(yes, I said it. Don’t text and drive? Why not! In Lagos traffic? Just be responsible). Get podcasts that tell stories. I’d recommend Criminals, The Bad Christian, Loose Talk, James Altucher.

Subscribe to Apple Music. Listen to new music. Bump up your playlist before any trip. Explore new music. Write out your gratitude journal(I do this every day).

Meditate

Meditation helps you reduce stress levels. It also helps you focus and be present! How? Make it a habit to monitor your mental-emotional state through self-observation. “Am I anxious?” “Why do I want to overtake this guy?” “Why do I feel so hurt that the guy just moved to my lane”. Just ask yourself these questions and then OBSERVE your answers.

These things work for me. I’m sure they would work for you too. Be one less idiot on the Lagos roads.