My Musing: Of Overtaking: The Ford Wagon Experience

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I love and loathe overtaking, concurrently. I love it when I am onboard a vehicle doing the overtaking, and I loathe when the opposite happens. There is some ‘personal vengeance’ when I am driving and a vehicle overtakes me; I try to retaliate when the situation is convenient and permits it, otherwise it leaves a somewhat unsatisfied feeling in me.

My love for overtaking is partly the reason why I prefer travelling onboard a Ford Wagon to any other bus. That revved up sound from its engine when it overtakes a long streak of vehicles when the ‘coast is clear’, makes the love even deeper. Their ‘abnormal’ speed has always been a bother to my mum and has been her constant refrain whenever there is the need for me to make a trip. “Kwesi, m3mmfa Ford oo…wo k) speed dodow”, she will always say. To wit, “Kwesi, Ford buses speed unnecessarily, so rather board another bus”. To this her usual comment, I respond by intimating the fact that Ford wagons no longer speed like they used to do sometime in the not-so-distant past. And it is indeed the case, because Ford wagons are nowadays often overtaken by other vehicles – even rickety 207 Benz buses on our roads, which irks me.  

So the conversation over the phone on the evening of Friday, 3rd March, 2017 was no different when I had to travel to Cape Coast for the funeral of my paternal aunt. This time, I heeded her advice and boarded a Takoradi-bound Toyota Urvan bus. Well, that might not be entirely true as I did only because there was no Ford wagon or any car moving to Cape Coast around 10:30 pm when I reached the bus station

I was kept awake against my will throughout the journey as there was not enough leg room to accommodate my rather long legs.  Had it not been the fact that it was the only vehicle at the Kaneshie Station at that time, I would have gladly alighted and waited for the next one. I kept myself busy by alternating between interacting on social media and playing a game on my phone. After about an hour and a half, I lifted my head to see how far we had gone, only to realize we had not even reached Winneba Junction, which I found very queer. I figured we should have been at Saltpond by then considering the time we set off. “Maybe the driver was not speeding like he ought”, I thought to myself. Instead of going back to my phone, I rather kept my gaze ahead, monitoring how he drove the bus. After about 10 minutes, I had figured out why, and I cussed under my breadth for not leaving Accra earlier than I did – the darned driver rarely overtook any vehicle! Can you imagine?         

But I observed something about his ‘non-overtaking’ skills just when I was about to lower my head and reach for my phone. I realized he hardly overtook any vehicle not because he didn’t know how to. He knew how, except that he critically analyzed every move he made behind the steering wheel. I realized in moments when I ordinarily would have made a move to overtake a vehicle if I were driving, he didn’t. Now, I have experienced on many occasions whiles travelling in the night, overtaking being done even when curves are being negotiated. Drivers have been taught to use the 2 parallel light beams from oncoming vehicles as a guide for overtaking when either ascending a quasi-hilly road or negotiating a curve, no? However, there would be no light beams from the opposite direction, but our driver on this particular night would not make a move to overtake, but then about 10 – 15 seconds later, a car would be seen speeding from the opposite direction. How he knew a car would come speeding without seeing lights beams, I can’t hazard a guess. And just so you know, I was seated behind the driver, and I could clearly see ahead, so I can’t be mistaken when I write [read say] there were no lights beams from the opposite direction. It happened many times that night. Then I concluded that not by some deity, but by sheer ‘experience’ is he able to do that so admirably. I commended him highly when I alighted at Pedu Junction.

Dear reader, are you planning to implement some wonderful business idea you had? After putting together that solid business plan that churns out encouraging numbers, why don’t you speak to an experienced entrepreneur, without divulging too much detail about your plan? Don’t you think you will be able to glean some valuable lessons to guide you down the road? Or is it some academic degree you want to acquire? Why don’t you speak to graduates in the field you seek to gain some knowledge, so you are able to make some deductions? Or is it walking down the aisle with that special someone? Speak to married people – both the successful and ‘unsuccessful’ ones you know – if you are willing, you will know what not to do when you enter that beautiful institution.

Dear friend, before you embark on any life journey at all, speak to people already in the terrain by asking both the relevant and irrelevant questions and equip yourself with some valuable lessons necessary for the journey. I reckon if we did that, we would know when to overtake a vehicle ahead of us successfully, and when not to attempt such audacious moves to avoid being crashed by an oncoming speeding vehicle.

Do enjoy the fruitfulness this week promises, and God richly bless you.

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The writer is a chartered accountant and a freelance writer. He can be contacted at Click here to read other articles he’s authored.