Book of etiquette would sweeten taxi trips

Last week Busi, the number one fan of, called to congratulate me on my new column and to relate a painful experience she had on her way to Yeoville.

A full taxi is a microcosm of the world. The passengers belong to different races, cultures and backgrounds.

Given their different moods, personalities, interests and lifestyles, a taxi ride can be hazardous.

There are certain rules that passengers have to follow, but there is no standard book of etiquette. Perhaps in the course of the year this column will come up with a guide acceptable to all.

Now Busi is a friendly soul who was taught by her grandmother and at Sunday school to share with others. Her granny told her it was a sure way to access StPeter's bosom.

Busi tells me that one morning, feeling peckish, she took a roll of sweets out of her bag and offered them around. She gave the driver the last sweetie in the roll.

Then the fan started working overtime.

The driver said "Yini? Bakuthemele ukuthi uzongidlisa?", which means "Has someone sent you to bewitch me?".

Several men in the taxi then spat the sweets out of the window. The driver told Busi that he had powerful muti to protect him and that the muti in the sweet would boomerang and bewitch Busi instead.

Trapped in the taxi, Busi was forced to listen to the driver's tirade about all the witches of Gauteng who were willing to kill strangers for sweet nothing.

Gauteng is home to millions of people. Many are outsiders, the so-called aMagoduka, here to earn an honest living, but not born- and-bred-in-Marabastad type people.

They are fascinated by the hustle and bustle of the golden province and yet they fear it and have created urban myths about "black widows", "fly girls" and "rubbernecks".

The driver's remarks reminded the men in the taxi that they were all vulnerable to muti. They will now forget to go home at Christmas and Easter.

That is why they so quickly spat out Busi's sweets.

Busi no longer offers sweets to strangers in taxis, but her upbringing makes her feel uncomfortable if she is the only one sucking on one in a taxi.

Other rules include passengers not being allowed to eat, drink, read or sleep in a taxi, especially in the front seat. These activities supposedly distract the driver.

A sleepy load apparently makes the driver sleepy and a newspaper obscures his vision.

I am guessing here: Busi's sweet would have sweetened the man's mood and he would then not have paid much attention to the accelerator. He would have arrived late in Johannesburg and missed his slot in the queue.

It is wise, perhaps, not to eat anything at all in a taxi. I would not mind this at all. My pet hate is people who chew gum and blow bubbles on my spectacles.

They then offer an insincere "sorry" and blithely continue to pop and snap until my nerves are completely frazzled.