Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 539
Samson and Salubi argue about which of them has the better job. Samson is an assistant for a driver, Kotonu; part of his responsibility is to go around town and drum up passengers—an activity called “touting”—for Kotonu’s informal bus service. Salubi aspires to become a full-time driver and picks up work when he can. Samson claims his work is superior because he works only for one driver. Salubi counters that he is wrong to be proud, as they work on a lorry, not a real bus; he brags of driving only private passengers—he quips that he could even drive the Queen.
SALUBI: You say you get pride and you are still a conductor on a bolekaja.
SAMSON: Nonsense, we run a bus. The seats face where you are going . . .
SALUBI: . . . [T]he matter is that you are going with passenger lorry. Me, I don’t drive lorry, I drive only private owner—no more no less.
SAMSON: Private way no get license . . .
SALUBI: As I am standing so, I am fit to drive the Queen of England.
SAMSON: One look at you and she will abdicate.
Professor works in the motor trade running a used parts business, as well as providing fake credentials for the drivers. But in his heart, he is a deeply spiritual man who calling is to help souls in crisis. This often takes him to accident scenes, where he believes he can assist the victims. After one particularly gruesome crash, the bodies have been flung into trees. He tries to convince Kotonu to go to the scene with him. Samson disagrees, condemning his interest as voyeuristic. The Professor insists that he is on a Quest in search of the Word.
PROF.: Do you take me for a common gawper after misery? . . . My bed is among the dead, and when the road rises a victory cry to break my sleep I hurry to a disgruntled swam of souls full of spite for their rejected bodies . . . There are dangers in the Quest I know, but the Word may be found companion not to life, but Death.
Salubi has been driving without a driver’s license. He hopes to save up and get one, but the fees are too steep for him. Everyone knows that Professor forges licenses, but he is apprehensive about approaching him because he knows what an eccentric, moody person he is. But when he is presented with what seems to be the ideal opportunity to drive for a wealthy man (whom they call the Millionaire), he decides he must ask Professor to help him and brings him an initial payment. When Salubi tells him it would be worth giving his life for this position, Professor is furious and offended.
PROF.: I . . . deduce your need is somewhat urgent.
SALUBI: Desperate, sir. I must get a license now. This job is first class. If I don’t get it, I will commit suicide.
PROF.: God rot your coward bones! Do you think not enough people die here that you must come and threaten me with death. You spurious spew. You instrument of mortgage. You unlicensed appendage of the steering wheel—[throws the shilling out of door] I refuse to touch your case.