Thursday, March 12, 2009


A rainfall in Bukavu, Congo, is like a snow day in Vancouver. The roads, such as they are, become thick with mud making driving a real challenge. We were out one rainy Sunday visiting a hospital on the outskirts of the town.

On our return we arrived at a junction of three roads, all of which was on a slight uphill. It was chaos. Truck drivers were putting their foot to the floor thinking more gas would provide more traction. Instead, mud flew, and their rear ends swung into oncoming traffic. Twelve seater Minivan taxis, filled with their twenty passengers found themselves stuck, the driver insisting his paying customers get out and push.

None of this dissuaded other drivers of all manner of cars to inch forward, or slip in beside others - filling in any and all gaps - insuring nobody was going anywhere. We discussed abandoning the Toyota in favour of walking.

Then, from the side of the road came a guy, a bystander.

He took charge. If space became available, he made sure it wasn't filled by another car, he looked for ways to decrease the gridlock. He had a stern expression and shouted if he had to. But, before too long, the cars began to move. We had our turn and were soon leaving the hill behind us - with a last wave to our new best friend. He was too busy to notice.

There was no incentive for his choice. He could have stood on the side saying “somebody should do something about that”. But he didn’t. He stepped in and solved the problem.

I want to be that guy.

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