The other day I was driving down my road, heading to the local coffee shop for a nice quiet study day. I was preparing to turn on to the main road when I saw a group of men running across the street. Not knowing what was happening (mobs can form pretty quickly), I made sure the doors were locked, and tried to see if I would be able to turn around if needed.
I turned back around to see what was happening, and knew immediately I was going to be alright. The guy in the front of the running crowd, however, did not look like he was going to have a fun time. I pulled over to watch the scene play out.
He was running from a group of people, shirt off. One of the guys behind him was holding his shirt as he followed him across the road. Another man running had a bucket of water and a bar of soap.
Apparently, the first man running was a conductor on a bus, here called a matatu. Other conductors had been complaining to each other when they stopped at the same stops that this man stank. I mean, really stank. Passengers on his bus had been getting off miles before their destinations, and getting on different busses just to avoid the stench.
The other conductors had finally had enough. A few of the busses waited at the bus stop for the stinky bus to show up. When it did, they grabbed him as he opened the door, tore his shirt off, and we’re planning on a public bath to help cure the malodorous man of his problems.
The conductor was able to get away and run across the street, but the matatu hygienists followed after. They were able to grab him, and, right there on the side of the road, dumped a bucket of cold water on his head. Two men held his arms, and a third grabbed the bar of soap, and proceeded to wash the man’s entire upper body. A second bucket of water followed to rinse him off.
A crowd had formed around the poor man, as the bathing was going on in a small outdoor market area. People were taking pictures with their phones, and traffic began backing up the road as drivers slowed to catch a glimpse of the scouring of the conductor.
After they left him there, wet and half clothed, I asked one of the cleaning men what happened. He said they had warned this man for a long time that something was going to be done about his smell, that even the matatu stank at the end of the night when they all parked them back at the lot.
As I pulled back onto the road and head for that cup of Java, I couldn’t help it. I made sure I smelled clean. Just in case.