If you have never had a 102 sandwich, then you have probably not yet tasted a sandwich! And chances are, you will never know what you are missing… until you sample a 102 sandwich. Well, I didn’t think you would doubt me, not before you have sampled your first 102 sandwich. I personally used to doubt until stopped doubting after I had my first sampling.
Today, I had the opportunity sampling my first sandwich after a 3-month long hiatus. Hearing ‘Nothing to Smile About‘, ‘New Sheriff in Town‘ and ‘Could You Beloved‘ is a signal that a sandwich is in the offing. Just like the many times before, I paid my 20 bob and didn’t mind moving over for the next paying customer. When you move, always sideways, you try as much as you can to avoid eye contact. Besides, sharing tables is an acceptable norm and way of life.
Just then, 3 big-thighed women, hugging yellow paper bags, get on board and we are commanded to assume the shape of pellets inside a package of orbit. I am just about to point out that there are only 4 pellets in every small orbit mint package when the crew, as if on cue, play a song that encourages every sandwicher to be strong. I swallow my anger and look straight ahead, trying all I can to remain strong. Part of me wants to yelp out in pain. I close my eyes and grit my teeth, biting my lower lip. It would be wrong to look into the eyes of a fellow sandwicher, anyway.
But with the 3 big-thighed women having joined us, we are now 5 in number, and that has stopped being a sandwich. Before I can open my jaws to complain, the crew forwards the song sequence and suddenly the whole 102 matatu shakes as another song plays on. A few minutes later, I get off the matatu and faces the treacherous and rough murram road that will leads to Dagoretti Girls Rehab where our girls wait to hear things that will bring smiles to their faces.
I am never surprised when the girls mention ‘Nothing to Smile About’ as some of their favourite music. And with the prospect of having a sandwich on either leg of my trip to the centre, I can fully understand why they doubt whether there really is something left to smile about.
As we settle down for the day’s session, I can’t help but think about the trip back to Nakumatt Junction. “Watu wapendane!” I can almost hear the conductor issue a command that will send other sandwichers to squash me to the furthest end. Suddenly, I smile in spite of myself. I know there is going to be nothing to smile about. And just like the perfect Nairobian, I will shut my beak, stomach everything that the matatu conduct will throw at me, untie the tight knots of fear inside my stomach that grow tighter with every pothole the speeding No. 102 hits and hope the end will be without further incidence.