Ever wondered what that taxi driver was thinking?
THE day starts in the thick silence that is 3 am.
The heat from the engine under the seat, which will be baking later today, is welcome.
The passengers don’t speak and most sleep after sending the fare to the front and passing the change to the back. Turn up Ukhozi. Aah, Maskandi, the bass weaving the voices together like sticky drips of golden syrup.
In the dark, deft left fingers have long learned to feel out the exact coins between smoothly changing gears, the right hand steering into a gap in the flow, eyes darting.
Five hours later, having run the route the usual seven times, each shuffling queue quickly swallowed by the Siyayas at the rank, the yawning office crowd start pouring onto the roads, looking miserable in their cars.
Why do they sit in the same queue at the same time every day? There is the impatient one, already edging forward. But the mother in front of him is scolding her child in the back seat for throwing stuff, oblivious of the now green traffic light. The hooters are not oblivious.
Most of the single drivers just stare dully at their windscreens, listening to the inanities of the pop stations in their empty cars. Win tickets to this, fake gasps, the Kardashians did that. Don’t these DJs know — or care — there is a regime change happening here at home?
The gogo pipes up, reminding again she wants to be dropped at the corner, close to her job, her arthritis hot in this cold, making the long walk from the rank pure torture.
There is no space to pull off on the corner and the hooters start again as the gogo slowly inches herself out of the door.
One swears as he revs past, his red face almost purple, his little girl’s eyes big.
A pantsula appears, gently helps the gogo down and then hops into her seat as she says thank you.
Five cars pass to line up behind the 10 ahead. They line the block from robot to robot. Just 16 people, taking up a whole city block. In the taxi, also 16 people, but everyone squeezed tight into four metres.
If red face did the sums, he would realise each taxi removes an entire queue of cars in front of him, like that copier company, saving him time, saving him money. But a guy like that probably can’t count. Maybe his little girl can help him.
Left fingers automatically select the right coins for the pantsula’s ten bob. Eish, it’s too cold out there, he says, half price on this hot engine is a bargain.