I feel a little bad interviewing Jared, my #2, and not Tom, my bread and butter. But, really, Tom is more of a meat and potatoes guy; he's less effusive and not quite what we're looking for in the blogosphere. I knew I'd get more out of Jared. He's in his mid twenties, rought but handsome, always sporting dark sunglasses, and a deep, brooding voice. What ensued was an improvised interview as we raced from Nakawa to Banda to beat an imminent rain storm early in the afternoon last week.
ME: When did you start driving a boda boda?
JARED: About 5 years ago.
JARED: Make some money. My uncle had a boda and he let me use it.
ME: How old were you then?
JARED: I was making my 17th year.
ME: So 16.
ME: Have you ever got in an accident?
JARED: No. I drive safe. You don't trust me, man?
ME: Of course I do (as I clutched the back seat cushion with the whites of my fingernails). How long have you had this bike?
JARED: It's new. Last week!
(Smiling with pride)
ME: Nice..did you buy it new or used?
JARED: This one is new. One week.
ME: So you bought it from a dealership?
JARED: A what?
ME: A store. Like Toyota or something.
JARED: Yeah, there is a store on Kampala Road where you can buy them.
ME: Do you mind if I ask how much it was?
JARED: I don't care. It was...2.5 million shillings (that is about $1,200).
ME: What if I wanted to buy one?
JARED: You? (laughing) Do you want to be a boda driver? (more hysterical laughing)
ME: Why not? I would be worried about someone stealing it though.
JARED: Yeah, it's not good idea. They can steal them easily. And it's dangerous at night.
(It is beginning to rain now as we turn left off Jinja Road onto the tarmac leading to Kyambogo's main gate)
ME: Do you change higher prices when it rains?
JARED: Yeah, it's higher. I don't like rain.
ME: What about for people like me? Do you always overcharge foreigners, except for me of course?
JARED: We bargain...it's not about overcharge...it's a business. You bargain, we bargain. I make the best price for me and I don't care about if you are mzungu or Baganda or what.
ME: Is it more dangerous driving at night or in the rain?
JARED: Bad people on the road. They can kill you.
ME: Who can?
JARED: Passengers. Especially here. Kyambogo area is so dark.
ME: Passengers? I always thought it was guys waiting for you in the bushes or something.
JARED: No, the passengers tell you to go to some dark place and then when you stop they beat you, take your boda...they can even kill you.
JARED: Usually a hammer. They wait for you to stop in a place and then they hit you on the head.
ME: So you stop driving at night because of the passengers?
JARED: Yeah, you are okay though. You call me anytime. I pick you up and take you somewhere.
ME: You trust me? Maybe I have a hammer.
JARED: You don't....I don't think you can use a hammer. Can you?
(We pull up to Stanbic bank, go over the two speed bumps, the meteor shower of pot holes and then turn right up the hill, past the student center and ease right up to my gate)
JARED: See you next time, Mac.