Roads in taxiland paved with threats

Colleague Nthabisang Moreosele, who writes a weekly column - Taxi.com - in this space, will probably not like what I am about to share with you about her pet subject: the taxi industry.

Colleague Nthabisang Moreosele, who writes a weekly column - Taxi.com - in this space, will probably not like what I am about to share with you about her pet subject: the taxi industry.

My recent experience in a taxi was anything but hilarious.

It started out at the madhouse called Bara taxi rank in Soweto. On this day, all five million Sowetans must have been at the rank. From a distance, they looked like extras in a Chinese movie depicting overpopulation.

I walked around hoping I did not look lost - for obvious reasons. I chewed loudly on my bubblegum and walked with a slight hop, hoping it made me look streetwise and dangerous.

After finding a sign that said Evaton, I asked one of the three men, apparently taxi drivers, standing near a jalopy in front of the queue: "Is this Evaton?"

"It is a taxi that goes to Evaton. It is not Evaton," he responded, looking like he did not like me.

"Oh, you are clever, hey ." I said clambering in, not looking at him. When I stole a look in his direction moments later, he was staring at me, shaking his head as if saying saying uzofa - you will die.

I had forgotten the obvious: you don't get smart with taxi drivers, especially in their territory.

I picked what looked like the most comfortable seat available, and still found I had to contort my torso to sit. Still, I found my knees stabbing violently into the seat in front of me, because the smart owner of the taxi had decided to instal the damn thing with home-made seats.

I glanced through my newspaper with the hope that it would take my mind off the pain in my knees.

My therapy was beginning to work when the queue marshal stuck his hand through the window and patted me on the shoulder: Sondela, sheshisa, sheshisa s'bali! - Move towards me, and hurry up, brother-in-law!

Damn it, he was asking me to make room for an auntie with the most ample bottom you ever saw, who was to sit in the same row.

As she plonked into the seat, the car sagged dangerously to the side.

"Money!" the same fellow barked, shooting out his dirty paw. We paid quietly.

After what seemed like forever, the engine chortled, the bodywork rattled and the taxi wove its way out of the rank.

A short distance outside Soweto, we came across a bumper-bashing. Another taxi had driven into the back of a car waiting to turn right.

Our driver spoke for the first time, sympathising with his fellow taxi driver who was clearly in the wrong.

Awubone lo Sathane. Uyaindiketha maar akangeni . Look at this devil he is indicating but he is not moving into the lane.

Nothing new there. In taxi-land you indicate your actions, not your intentions.

So the poor driver was wrong to wait for oncoming traffic to pass before turning!

By the time we got to Evaton, I was ready to convert to any religion - on the high grade.

If this is the daily experience of millions of South Africans - and sadly it is - then I shall happily pass.

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