The Psychological Effect of Commuting in Lagos on a Designer

By Pelumi Adeyemi, UX Designer

Lagos
Photo by Oluwapelumi Adeyemi on Unsplash

It’s 8:45 am— I woke up after falling asleep in my Uber. “Wait a minute!!! I’m not yet at work?” I’ve been on this trip since 6:15 am.

I’m not sure what I should be worried about, my bank account or my punctuality.

I finally got to work a few minutes past 9. With an eye out for the HR look, I settle down to get a debit alert of approximately N4,000😭.. With no time to worry (and waste), my manager asks me for an update on my progress report on Lattice ( Oga calm down na!).

“Be calm”, I grumbled in my head.

Hungry and stressed from the journey, I’d still need to do what I get paid for. My brain won’t start-up for about an hour—it needs silence from all the honks and exhaust fumes on Lagos roads.

At work, I’d get all sorts of personal messages:

– “Pelumi, your brother has been posted to law school and his fees are about N500,000. so…”

– “Plumexy!!!! How you dey na, abeg my house rent no complete, I fit see like 30k from your side, I promise I’ll return it next week”

– “Plum how far now, are those videos ready, remember we have 6 more to do this week for the speakers coming to minster in church”

– “Babe, you haven’t been talking to me as much as you used to. I think we need to spend more time together and…”

– “Hi Pelumi, please provide the security levy for the month of January — N7,000, plus LAWMA levy of N1,000 making a total of N8,000. Courtesy, your Landlord”

😭😭😭😭
I’m frustrated.

3:30 pm, I’m worried about how long it’ll take to get home. I check Google Maps and develop a mini-panic attack from all the red lines I see everywhere.

On my way home, I struggle not to fall asleep because I’m sitting at the edge of the bus with the door wide open—one wrong move and I’m in the ocean. 

Two hours of heat, lots of honks and exhaust fumes, and I’m an hour away from home, Lol.

My bus driver decided to pick up passengers in the middle of the road which is illegal and unethical. He pumped the brakes abruptly and the recoil velocity forced-shut the doors.

Guess what? My leg is by the door and gets caught between—screams everywhere, from only me… I look around to find some sympathy, I wasn’t going to get any. No one noticed. They were either lost in thought or looking the other way.

I cried inside.

I got home after 3 hours of commute, bought food on the way home and slept off on the couch where I had dinner. I woke up in the middle of the night sweating like a bottle of cold water. “When will NEPA bring light now?

I crawled back to bed hoping to get some sleep. 5 minutes later, my alarm went off, or so I thought. The time definitely seemed short.

My morning prayer sounded like, “Lord, if you can grant me just 2 more hours of sleep, I’ll serve you all my days

But I had to get up. I wasn’t early yesterday, I can’t be late today.. .

While having my bath, I started to think “Should I order a ride or try to take a bus? If I keep taking cabs, I’ll be over my budget this week ooo. But it’s 6:00 am already, abeg let me order a ride joor, I’ll sleep more and I should make it to work earlier this time.

it’s 8:45 am, I woke up after falling asleep in my Uber.

“Wait a minute!!!……arrrrggggghhhh”

”Here we go again!”

That’s a short version of what my everyday used to look like. This experience is one of the great many ordeals a lot of people in Lagos go through every day, and it’s not getting better.

I became a designer (by day) because I loved to solve problems and it was one of the platforms I could use professionally. My subconscious has tried, numerous times, to figure out the transportation problem in Lagos but it’s always been a dead end. 

Lagos Traffic

Feeling powerless and hopeless about solving this problem make me start to question my problem-solving skills.

I design solutions for various categories of human beings, but solving this problem seems beyond me.

As a designer, I’m well aware that “teamwork makes the dream work”, collaboration is paramount and always necessary. As I work hand in hand with engineers to build solutions, I expect the politicians I pay taxes to, to collaborate to build grand solutions that would make life easier for everyone.

I’m young, I’m energetic. I’m supposed to spend these youthful years experimenting. Finding new solutions to problems and inventing/reinventing the wheel. But I’m plagued with solving “cave-men” problems — electricity, water, food, transportation.

In conclusion, a large chunk of our processing capacity is being used on solving basic issues that shouldn’t be existent. In turn, that makes everyone give less than they can. On a larger scale, it decreases our level of innovation.

The end.

Please share your commute-stories with me in the comments and say hi on Twitter.

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