Who’d want to be a taxi driver?
I F I had to name a career that requires the most skilled individuals, I would choose the taxi business. Anybody who has ever ridden in a taxi, or been at a taxi rank, will know that this career competes with any other vocation in terms of the dedication, concentration, courage and good-old Bruce Lee Way of Dragon reflexes needed, mixed with soulful kwaito beats.
The honoured few who drive taxis and transport our nation’s critical masses are not to be seen as losers — people who couldn’t become efficient parts of the corporate world or failed to buy their way into certain types of em- ployment.
Rather, they are a select few, on a par with the valiant men who took on the German luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain in 1940, aided by radar and good code-breaking.
In our present case, our drivers have a builtin radar for survival and manoeuvring around our cities’ jammed streets. Life is a war zone. A good taxi rank is an exciting example of grass-roots capitalism, mixed with some regulations, bent and broken here and there, in the spirit of free enterprise. Competition is tough.
The weakling on the stock exchange will not survive.
The other day, I went to board a taxi with a poetess friend who qualifies in men’s eyes as a genuine intokazi, as well as being an imbongikazi.
We had rival conductors guide us hither and thither until the one with the most tenacity gained our patronage. This is both business and pleasure. No cheese-boy accountant with seven As would ever survive the instant calculations and savvy required to balance a taxi’s economy.
People are getting out all over the place. This person is paying R12 for Mpolweni. This one Umswathi. This one Mhlalane. This one by the crossroads. This one has a R200 note to pay her R7 fare. “Do I look like a bank lady?” Instant calculations are required, likewise in all spheres of the driving. How much braking is needed, versus how much speed?
BEING A TAXI DRIVER ENTAILS DEDICATION, CONCENTRATION, COURAGE AND THE BRUCE LEE WAY OF DRAGON REFLEXES
Occasionally, one must calculate the odds of another vehicle coming over the blind rise at more than 100 km/h, or the size of the angle that is required to squeeze through peak traffic. Passengers squeal about a lack of air conditioning, but taxi drivers must put up with it all day. No wonder they often come across as angry people. On the whole, compared to many sectors in the country, the taxi business is pretty well run.