Do failed learner pilots somehow end up as daredevil taxi drivers?

Kwanele Ndlovu Singles Lane
Driving laws forbid any body part of a driver to hang outside a moving vehicle but for taxi drivers any rule is there to be broken. /Vathiswa Ruselo
Driving laws forbid any body part of a driver to hang outside a moving vehicle but for taxi drivers any rule is there to be broken. /Vathiswa Ruselo

I had always wondered where all the guys who fail their cadet pilot programme vanish to.

It appears one of them got himself a PDP (public driver's permit) and is currently the solo captain of a dented Quantum. This past Saturday, I flew from Kempton Park and almost didn't make it home to try on my new underwear set bought on 40% discount!

When the kombi took off, a sudden terror ran down my spine.

I am rarely concerned with the call for a life audit. However, 12 minutes of cruising 5mm above tar had me wondering whether my funeral policy was up to date, whether there were any more burial sites at the local cemetery, that no coleslaw and mayo salad would be served at my funeral.

The driver was homicidal. First of all, he was colour blind; green, caution and red all looked the same to him.

And so we endured continuous hoots and near misses at all cross roads.

As if to ensure that the trip absolutely felt like our last, he played local gospel music. Just loud enough for it to sink in. The first song was a popular chorus "Ukholo lwami lona, ngonyuka nalo."

A comforting send-off considering we were driving in the lane for oncoming traffic. Only, I had very little faith and I was not ready to ascend to no heaven.

 Of course I know the law, the constitution and my rights and a few judges' surnames. I can even quote Ngcukaitobi verbatim on some legal principles. But nobody dares challenge a taxi driver. That's why all 13 souls pretended to be praying in response to the gospel music.

The only person who dared to speak was the ninja in the front seat. He was clutching a green ngudu (bottle) and had related a poignant tale of his hate for Black Friday. His family had apparently bought a television set on sale while he desperately needed a driver's licence. He was cursing at all of them, by name. At some stage he was cheering the driver to overtake a slow truck, forgetting that taxi drivers are somewhat immune from death by road accident.

I was keen on reminding the driver about the speed limit and K53 rules. Only I was concerned that if I dared open my mouth, I would cough my heart out. So, I kept quiet, paid my fare and avoided leaning against the window - as if it would save me from getting hit by a car in the event of an accident.

With every near collision, I thought about how I would be found injured, bleeding, with panties and bras tangled around my neck. I would have died single with brand new lingerie! Worse, I would have paid a whole R13 for my trip to the grave.

That was the fare every single soul in that taxi was charged to gamble with their lives. Only, some had not received any change back.

A raucous ensued as a passenger started demanding their monies. It appeared that travelling at the speed of light soothed the poor thing to sleep. He had pocketed the monies, and snored away while neatly holding his beer without spilling a drop.

His sleep saved my life. That was the only time the driver slowed down and finally stopped. He had to come out to the front passenger's side to physically shake him awake.

Only then did everyone else find the strength and courage to speak out and condemn his speeding and reckless driving. I alighted from the taxi in the middle of suburbia. Gospel choruses still ringing in my head and my heart still sitting at the base of my neck.

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