Cape Town Stories 22
Coming from a meeting with my agency in Rondebosh I decided not to take a Taxify back home but instead revert back to the cheaper option of a main road taxi. Because although time is money, I honestly had nowhere to get to in a hurry. I walked to the main road and within a second the first gaatjie hanging out of a flying white van shouted my way:
I quickened my step to reach them and hopped into the van. Now while I searched for my money and told the gaatjie my stop (KFC) I noticed that the driver was both driving and simultaneously talking to someone on his cellular phone. We aren’t lying when we say we have an abundance of talent all around; look at all these multitaskers! And when he almost crashed into a car, do not think for a second it crashed his spirit or even made him any more careful, oh no! It made him more ambitious! He cut in front of other cars at breakneck speed – during rush hour no easy feat at all – but of course we all know that taxi driver’s do not have to abide by the common man’s road rules. Just before we almost hit the second car I cleared my throat to voice my concern:
„Driver, can we arrive alive?“ Unfortunately my accent came out more British-sounding than usual (the sound of fear) and so immediately Mr. Driver turned around, laughed in my face and let me know that my concern was not his problem, in fact, I should be happy: he was just putting on a show for us. I retorted „That’s nice, but I love my life“. Mr. Driver of course loves his life too, but he loves living it in full force and to prove it he smiled and put his foot on the accelerator, his eyes still on me rather than on the road. It was then that I realised that he was quite clearly high on drugs and not the kind that makes you happy and friendly, but the one that I saw many a fellow friend in Woodstock succumb to in the early 2000s. My fear fueled his aggression and he accelerated some more to provoke me.
The gaatjie recognised my horror and added „this is not an office job. If you want to drive slower, you must pay extra“. I decided that actually I did not need to get off at corner of KFC at all, that in fact any corner would do because after all a corner is a corner. Luckily we were trapped behind another car at a red light and so Mr. driver was not able to speed while I jumped off. I walked just a couple of meters and came across a traffic cop on a bike parked on the side of the road to police the traffic. I assume. Maybe it was his lunch break because he was not actually paying attention to the traffic rules that were being broken every other second. I told him what had just happened: that there was a driver who I am almost a hundred percent certain is on tik and nearly crashed into a car, because he wanted to „put on a show“. The traffic cop tried to suppress a smile:
„Have you ever taken a taxi before?“ But before I could answer he added „Where are you from?“.
„I’m from fokken Woodstock, goddam! I know I sound British-slash-American but I grew up in this fokken neighbourhood and taking taxis was the only way ever to get anywhere! Don’t assume I don’t know what taking a taxi means: I once took a taxi back to Walmer Estate from town (pre 2010 World Cup, so pre-MyCity busses) through Zonnebloem and the gaatjie slammed the sliding door closed, which promptly fell off its hinges and detached itself from the rest of the taxi to come crashing to the road. The driver, with a brief look into the rearview mirror decided that doors are overrated and continued driving, leaving it lying lonely in the middle of deserted District Six. I have driven a taxi to town that caught fire underneath the seat in front of me, smoke appearing at first underneath a woman’s skirt, without her noticing until I pointed at what looked like exhaust fumes coming out of her ass. We jumped off while the gaatjie casually tried to extinguish what had now turned into large flames licking the car. I have driven with endless amounts of taxi drivers who are their own gaatjies and count money while steering, I have driven with taxi drivers who drive on pavements, who ignore red lights, who don’t have rearview mirrors. I am from this fokken city, I know how taxis work! But still I think I should be allowed to tell a traffic cop that there is a drugged up driver provoking his passengers!“ I did not say any of that. Instead:
„Yes sir, I know they drive recklessly and the road rules do not apply to them, but perhaps a driver who becomes aggressive and provokes passengers by showing off his reckless driving, should be…not allowed to do that?“
„I will look into it.“
I pretended like I believed him and continued to make my way home on foot.