The pong that spoilt the journey for the passengers

On my first day back at work I had an unpleasant reminder of how awful public transport can be.

On my first day back at work I had an unpleasant reminder of how awful public transport can be.

I was running late because it had been hard for me to wake up early after two weeks of sleeping until 10am.

As usual when one is late, the taxi to Bosmont would not fill up. There were six of us on board when a very strong smell of chillies wafted into the taxi.

We were shocked and unable to breathe when the queue marshal smartly closed the door and told the driver to "roll".

I strongly suspect that he knew we would object and ask for another taxi.

I was the accountant on this third lap of my journey to work. The powerful pong from the back seat spread right to the front.

I asked the driver if he had one of those car fragrance strips. He gave me a small underarm spray and said I should spray the whole kombi.

It was a cold day but we had all the windows open to let in some air. The passengers were angry and uncomfortable.

One lady told the smelly man that people had to bathe even in winter. She berated him for inconveniencing everyone near him. I don't think it worked because obviously the man had not come near water for at least six months.

Every 10 minutes or so the driver would say to me: "Please, another shot."

Out would come the spray and we could take a few deep breaths before the hum would overwhelm us again.

The driver called the queue marshal and promised him hell on earth because the poor man had had to drive all the way to Florida with chillies.

One passenger said he could now understood how smoke inhalation could kill people. He wanted to know if insurance companies paid up for this type of death.

No one answered him because we were afraid we would inhale the smell through the mouth.

I do not know why we sprayed the kombi instead of forcibly spraying the man himself. Perhaps that would have worked better than spraying the air.

But his strong smell paralysed our minds and we stopped thinking clearly. The little spray could only give us some relief for about five minutes.

When we got off at our stop in Bosmont everyone heaved a sigh of relief. We thought we were well rid of the smell and discomfort.

The relief was shortlived since the smell had permeated our coats, hats, hair and scarves. We were carrying the reminder of that unwashed, verminous aroma with us.

A quick face and nose wash failed to erase the memory of the man and his smell.

I had to spend the rest of the day apologising to my colleagues for fouling their air. Everyone looked funnily at me.

I suspect they were asking themselves what I had been up to during my break.