Catching the sardine run in Gauteng smells fishy

Everyone knows how tightly sardines are packed into a tin.

This is more so in the case of Portuguese sardines. The little space left is flooded with oil and there is no breathing space.

Worse still, a thick, red chilli pepper is added to give the sardines an uncomfortably hot temperature in their eternal slumber.

If you peel open a taxi in the summer season, the picture is the same as with a sardine can.

The queue marshal at the taxi rank seats us three-three, which means three to a row. On the way, just outside the rank, the drivers pick up stragglers and pack us in four-four.

We end up like sardines in a tin can.

And our chilli?

There is usually one young man who has not had a bath in a month who is also crammed in with us. The smell of stale sweat, dirty clothes and a melange of other unimaginable and unknowable smells is deadly.

This is torture. It is like being a sardine nestled next to a chilli inside a can. If you add the heat of summer, the ride is unendurable.

Sometimes these unwashed rabble travel three or four to a cab. They poison the air. Unfortunately, there is usually a woman who will close the window because the breeze will mess up her hairdo.

I get nosebleeds in the summer and I think that the pong is partly responsible.

I do not know how human rights square up with people who do not think it is cool to take a bath. What about the rights of other people who have to breathe these noxious fumes?

These youths are not poor. They usually wear designer labels. They just do not believe that water is good enough for their bodies. Their smell settles on us and we have to wear this "perfume" for the rest of the day.

Perhaps the marshal should have a bucket of soapy water and order these smelly boys to wash before they squeeze into the taxi with us.

The taxi associations have a set of rules for taxi drivers. They have to wash and dress nicely. Some are natty dressers, fashion plates even.

What I want to know is: are they compelled to carry smelly passengers? Don't they have to protect the rights and comfort of the other passengers?

I think that as part of the rules of behaviour in taxis, the queue marshals should kick these dirty people out of the rank.

A while ago one driver kicked a poisonously noisome youth from the front seat to the back of the vehicle.

The driver was angry and said he could not drive with a smell that was causing him stress. He went as far as saying that the young man was abusing him.

Ironically, he did not extend the same courtesy or rights to his passengers. We had to endure the pong while he pocketed the money.

That is not fair at all.