(Context: Over the last few days, Nigerians have suffered a fuel shortage of such immense and catastrophic significance that it has been named, rightly, The Petrocalypse. No end is in sight, hope fades by the day.)
Nigerians, you long suffering glories, with your hearts full of eternal forgiveness for your corrupt leaders, I salute you.
I mean, I am one of you, but right now, my tank is full, so I feel above and outside of your current pains.
That however does not mean that I do not sympathise. I do.
I too have felt the soul-eating anxiety of a half full tank. I too have worried myself sick, driving around with a dwindling fuel supply, with only queues and forlorn jerry-cans in sight.
I too have stood upon my doorstep, looking hopefully at the gateman as he checks the generator and announces “Madam, diesel go soon finish.”.
I too have considered coasting down inclines (it doesn’t work by the way).
I know, guys. I know.
So here is a short guide on how to keep your head about you in these trying times.
1. Do not coast down inclines to save fuel. It doesn’t really work with modern cars, and more likely than not, you’ll end up ramming into someone ahead of you, adding panel-beating and car repair costs to your already long list of woes.
2. Do not switch off your air conditioner. It barely saves you any fuel and Nigeria is too hot for that nonsense. I’ve seen a fair few cars being driven by people so covered in sweat, they may as well be sentient puddles of vegetable oil.
3. Do bribe everyone and everything possible. Can you bribe the fuel attendant? DO IT. This is not the time for scruples.
4. Do stock up on dried goods, water and MOST ESPECIALLY plantain chips. I don’t really know why but they taste pretty good.
5. Do rediscover the joys of a cold shower. The truth is, there is nothing joyful about a cold shower. It is the sanitary equivalent of a wad of spit in the eye. It steals your very breath from your chest and makes you aware of how much skin you actually have (always too much at that point). But try anyway. Imagine yourself a nymph bathing under the spray of a beautiful enchanted waterfall. Imagine yourself Aquaman, diving into the Arctic to save the world. Imagine yourself whoever the hell you want, but do it quickly, and repeatedly, because the cooling effect of a cold shower only lasts for about 15 minutes.
6. DO GET A BLOODY INVERTER IF YOU DON’T ALREADY HAVE ONE. ALSO A POWER BANK, A BICYCLE, A BATTERY POWERED FAN, AND POSSIBLY A SMALL ICE DRAGON. THESE ARE THE ESSENTIALS.
7. Do car pool. Preferably with people you know, but the total stranger option is okay so long as they’re not vegetable-oil people (see above) or serial killers. Admittedly, you won’t know if they’re the latter until it’s probably too late but I’d like to you remember, at the end, that I did warn you.
8. Do use your generator only for the most important of tasks. For the avoidance of doubt this does include catching up on the final few episodes of The Flash and curling your hair before you head out.
9. DO GO TO THE CINEMA. It’s blissfully cool, and Mad Max: Fury Road is showing- a film about fuel, water, and desert heat which, in present circumstances, could not be more apropos. Also it has Tom Hardy’s lips and Charlize Theron’s neckline in it.
10. Don’t have sex. Sorry, but it’s too goddamned hot.
11. Do dig out that old flame’s number if he or she can fill up your tank. It’s the end of the world, I say again, this is not a time for scruples. NB: You can break rule 10 to comply with rule 11.
12. Do not leave your house in search of fuel unless armed with a blunt object. Fuel Zombies are real, and can be taken out with a solid thump to the medulla oblongata alternatively a whiff of kerosine.
13. Do charge every single electrical appliance you have at work. There is no shame in it. I saw a guy bring his daughter’s baby monitor in. No one judged him, no one will judge you either.
GOODLUCK AND GODSPEED.