Ever won­dered what that taxi driver was think­ing?

The Witness - Wheels - - TRANSPORT - WHEEL NUT with Al­wyn Viljoen

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.

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