With my car disemboweled, I’m back to taking taxis – something I actually quite enjoy, at least for awhile, as it brings me face to face with some of Freetown’s wonderful wackiness. (Read more about the experience of taking public transport in this 2007 post.)
Last Sunday, I got into an unremarkable taxi driven, like many, by a rather tough and taciturn young man. Barely out of his teens, he made no eye contact with his passengers and did not trouble himself with intelligible speech, communicating instead with nearly-imperceptible nods and occasional grunts.
Obviously a hardened Big Man of the World and probably a former combatant, I thought.
And then I saw his gearshift, utterly transformed by a worn stuffed teddy bear which had been pulled down over the gearshift so its head covered the handle and its soft black body surrounded the shaft.
Each time he shifted gears, our hardened driver grabbed hold of this floppy bear, which smiled out amiably through his fingers, to the delight of a six-year-old boy in the front passenger seat.