This here is a collection of taxi stories, kindly submitted some time ago by Julie - sorry it took me so long to publish these -
Just a quick warning, this might offend readers. Though South African motorcar drivers (especially those in Jo'burg) will most probably share the same sentiments.
The following little gem from a friend, ex-Durban, now in the States…
A little reminder of Africa (which is very close to the truth):
Togetherness Tshabalala jinks his High Impact African Culling Equipment (HiAce for short), with BMW hubcaps through the rush-hour traffic, occasionally using the pavement to increase productivity. Togetherness is a confident man with high spirits, as evidenced by the stickers on his rear window: “GOD LOVES TAXI-DRIVERS” and “AVOID CONSTIPATION – TRAVEL BY TAXI”.
On the front of his taxi, between a large dent which, ominously, is in the shape of a large traffic cop, and the holes from a small spray of bullets, is a lurid notice reading: “JUKSKEI PARK EXPRESS INAUGURAL FLIGHT”.
Using the word ‘flight’ is Togetherness’ own little personal joke. What we are witnessing is the inaugural leg of what is hopefully to become a daily service between Jukskei Park and Johannesburg – a 25 km journey that takes 10 minutes – less if the pavements are open. The percussion waves from Togetherness’ powerful radio (‘organised’ from a BMW Z3) pushes back the early mist. He is playing Boom Shaka’s latest low frequency, 120 Db hit (How low can we go?) He hoots as he drives. Togetherness hoots at anything he sees – including trees – as is the custom of his people.
On board the taxi are sixteen white people. They do not come whiter than this. They are Omo white. They were not born white. No, their pallor is due to fear and stark terror.
Take John Mleka.
Never in his life has he done 0 to 100 km/h in six seconds – especially not in heavy traffic. Denise Mtha’s colour has changed from green-black to a sort of waxen ivory as quickly as the last traffic light had changed to red. (A colour that traditionally prompts taxi drivers to make even more haste.) Togetherness regularly looks over his shoulder while driving – even for a full minute – asking passengers their destinations. Elizabeth Mronwo, sitting right at the back, has the opportunity to say: “Randbag centa” even though she works in Johannesburg. She worries about how she will make her way to the front, but only fleetingly, because the taxi has now reached Randburg and Togetherness has stopped. He has stopped as suddenly as a plane might stop up against a mountain. Now EVERYBODY is at the front in a warm, intimate heap. Elizabeth alights as gracefully as anybody can with one knee locked behind the other. She is vaguely aware of passers-by loosening her clothing and shouting: “Give her air!” Togetherness bowls happily along Jan Smuts Avenue, overtaking a police BMW that is chasing a getaway car. Then he overtakes the getaway car too, exchanging boisterous greetings with the driver whom he knows. Togetherness is steering with his elbows because he needs his hands free to check the morning’s takings and to wave to the girls on the pavement. He announces: “Ledees and gentlemen, thees is your ceptin. We weel shortly be lending in Johennesbeg. Please make sure your seatbelts are in the upright position and your seats are fastened. Thank you for flying with us. We hope to see you again soon.”
John Mleka is gripping the seat in front of him so tightly that he notices his fingertips have gone transparent, as a passing taxi fires a brief burst from an AK 47 in his direction. Togetherness now reaches the city and merges with the in-bound traffic like his ancestors merged with the British at Isandlwana.
He stops at his usual disembarkation point in the middle of an intersection and picks his teeth patiently while people sort out their legs, arms and teeth before groping their way towards a pole around which they can throw their arms. By the time his passengers’ eyeballs have settled back in their parent sockets, Togetherness is already halfway back to Jukskei Park with another load of passengers. Ye-e-e-e-bò!
The New Togetherness Tshabalala…
So much for the government’s initiative!
Inevitably, the National Taxi Drivers’ Organisation has asked my friend, Togetherness Tshabalala, the demon taxi-driver of Diepsloot, to road-test these new, safer 18 and 35 seater maxi-taxis. The Transport Minister wants these vehicles to replace the notoriously dangerous minibus taxis.
Togetherness’ report has caused a stir among the manufacturers,
Maxi-taxi road test by Togetherness Tshabalala:
‘My test shows that the 35-seater holds 157 passengers, at a squeeze, so to speak. The roof managed to support a good three tons of luggage, chickens and building material. This is a big advantage over the minibuses. Despite a cargo of this magnitude, during my test run to Pietersburg, the vehicle handled well and experienced very few serious accidents. At one time the back assembly became incandescent because the handbrake had been left on. This ignited the petrol tank, but most passengers managed to alight. (Alert readers will spot Togetherness’ little pun.)
We managed to repair the bus at the roadside with pieces of corrugated iron and a hammer and resumed our journey. The bus, now reduced to a 26-seater, was in fact now much easier to handle, cornering at speed.
I liked the 18-seater. It can accommodate 77 passengers – nine under the seats and one in the spacious engine compartment (at reduced fare.) It put up an impressive performance on the Soweto route, but only after the electronic speed-governor had been neutralised by striking it with a pipe wrench. This speed control device will not be well accepted. Crawling down the Soweto highway at a governed 60 km/h would certainly be inviting parking tickets as well as hubcap thieves. Talking of which, the wheels in both versions do not take BMW hubcaps – drivers are not going to like this. The automatic hydraulic door is a big advantage over the minibus’ sliding door. If the passengers’ appendages are left sticking out, the sliding doors tend to guillotine them off, causing much smarting of the eyes. I was pleased to note that the maxi-taxi’s automatic doors, as they swing shut, tend to painlessly compress the passenger-load as opposed to trimming its edges. Passengers are going to welcome this. Seat belts on all seats. This cuts by one third the number of passengers who are propelled to the front of the vehicle every time the brakes are applied.
A warning: these buses may be safer than combi taxis, but when one is forced to take to the pavements in rush hour, they are decidedly less safe and badly frighten the pedestrians. However, the power-steering does allow one to jink among the traffic lanes without rolling the vehicle, which is a big time-saver.
It was, I must say, rather nice driving a bus with sturdy side-panels which do not flex like lungs when one plays music, and neither do the windows pop out, even when I play my Nine Inch Nails’ C.D.
So folks, what a peachy morning it has been so far. The sun is shining, it's Friday, I've done my training, Long Tom Roodt is back in the country, there will be a lot of thirst quenched this weekend, and Sipho Faeces-face Ndlovu is one mini-bus short of a taxi! Now that is justice....
Sandton's central business district is to be sealed off during the Earth Summit in September next year when 85 000 delegates and 180 world leaders are expected. The town centre will temporarily become United Nations territory and all who enter must do so by bus. Four hundred and fifty minibuses will be hired and drivers will be carefully selected and trained.
My taxi-driver friend from Soweto, Togetherness Amadeus Tshabalala, underwent his driving test the other day to see if he would be a suitable candidate for driving one of the UN buses during the 10-day Earth Summit.
He took along his faithful old Toyota Hi-Ace with its BMW hubcaps and stickers that read "Even God loves taxi drivers" and "Defeat constipation, travel by taxi". The front of the vehicle still bore the big dent, shaped suspiciously like a traffic cop with both arms out.
Togetherness told me his passengers - who were in fact his examiners - consisted of two black men, an Indian and a white man, but by the time he had driven them around Sandton they were all white.
Now, Togetherness knows Sandton like the back of his hand. He knows every shortcut. So when, during his orientation test he was asked to take the quickest route from Fifth Street to Rivonia, he cut through Woolworths, a school playground and two branches of Pick 'n Pay.
When they asked him to imagine he was carrying a VIP American who was in a hurry, Togetherness drove so fast he overtook a police car chasing a getaway car. Then he overtook the getaway car. He shouted pleasantries to the cops and the robbers, for he knew them all well.
He made a thoughtful little gesture to his imaginary American passenger by slipping an Elvis Presley record into the vehicle's CD player.
As the walls of the taxi flexed with the sound waves, Togetherness shouted (in what he considered an American accent) some intelligent questions, such as "Say man, you Yanks still fightin' the kaftans, huh?"
His examiners began firing "typical" questions at him - the sort of questions they said he must anticipate from delegates from weird and wild countries such as Uzbekistan and France.
"How far is Pretoria from here?" asked the white man.
Togetherness said it was about eight minutes away. "Eight minutes! But Pretoria's 60 kilometres away!" said the white man aghast.
"OK, 10 minutes then," Togetherness said.
"And is it true there are lions in the streets of Johannesburg? Even white lions?" asked one of the examiners feigning a British accent.
Togetherness misheard him: "White lines?" He began explaining the white lines down the middle of the road and how he thought double white lines (which he had just crossed in order to overtake a petrol tanker) were for cyclists to cycle in between.
"I notice that you stop at green lights but not at red ones," said an examiner in a muffled voice (because by now he was cowering under his seat).
"Too dangerous to drive through green lights," shouted Togetherness as Elvis got into All Shook Up. "So many taxi drivers shoot the red light that nowadays it's safer to stop at green and to take off at red."
Togetherness thought the test went well but he's not sure whether he's been selected. As he drove away, I noticed he had a new sticker in the rear window: "Want your skin lightened? Take a taxi."
This morning, yours truly, decided to sneak in a pinch of top-secret and highly professional canoe training at Emmerentia dam, before the first farts of sparrows could escape their imprisoning sphincters, and even before the glories-of-mornings of most non-gay South African men could rise to view the possible prospects of 'before work' swims.
Yep, I was up and onto that little patch of water before sunrise, tearing around it at record-breaking pace, sneaking in a wee bit of pre-Duzi training, in order to wrestle the crown away from the well slow and soft Martin Dreyer (present Duzi champion, for those of you not in the intellectual canoe mix) ext time around. Anyway, the details of my incredible canoe talent are not up for discussion here, but rather what happened on my drive home after the session, in rush hour traffic, and in particular, on Jan Smuts Avenue near to the Old Parktonian sports club around 8am.
I was happily chilling in my car, cruising along at about 60kph, in pretty much bumper-to-bumper traffic with nobody going anywhere any faster, it was simply not an option. Well, not an option for anyone with a brain, with an ounce of logic within their crania, with a drop of sense inside the membranes of their cerebral hemispheres. You'd think that a creature without a brain would equate to a fly or less, a category that includes mosquitoes, stones, anvils and ... muntu taxi drivers. Yep, enter Sipho "I'm a dickhead without a brain cell" Ndlovu, driver of a Toyota Hiace *4 wheels, 1 brake pad, no lights, half a steering wheel, about 30 muntus inside and 3 masking-taped windows, yep, standard issue for a South African taxi driver.
He had more than likely participated in the demonstration march last month with hundreds of other muntu taxi driver idiots protesting about having had their 'vehicles' impounded for not being roadworthy, the rocket-scientists couldn't understand what wasn't roadworthy about a taxi with a bobbejaan spanner for a steering wheel, or one without brakes (they reckon a handbrake is just as good as the foot brake pedal). Anyway, my mate Sipho decided things weren't flowing fast enough for him, so started weaving in and out of the traffic, arm hanging out of his window like a baboon's tail hanging from its ringpiece (I'm certain his armpit smelt like a baboon's ringpiece as well, he was sweating like Bruce Fordyce's crack after 90km's on the up run of the Comrades).
I heard this aeronautical engineer-like taxi driver coming from about 5 cars back, because everyone was hooting and slamming on brakes to avoid the accident that he was trying his damnedest to cause. After he narrowly missed the back of my canoe as he swerved in behind me, I made a stubborn little vow that he DEFINITELY wouldn't be cutting in front of me like that, and so began the fun and games. The bum-wart first tried the standard tactic of intimidation, just gradually cutting me off, in the typical "you'd better slow down and let me in, or I'll crash into you" method. Well, I used the typical "Fack you faeces-brain" tactic, with one hand on the hooter, the other pointing straight at him, with my foot firmly on the accelerator, until he backed down like Mike Catt had done in 1995 when Jonah Lomu ran straight over him.
This had a snowball effect, which had me chuckling the whole way back to my humble abode. Syphilis-face then decided to put all his well acquired driving skill to the test, and adopted the smartest technique of them all, the "Eish, I weel ovah-take on the wrong side" method, one that sadly has caused numerous accidents in the past, including the untimely death of one of our awesome mates, Mike Short, a year ago.
This made old Makhatini madder than a spitting cobra, with a red-hot cactus lodged up its rectum. No skin off the facking reverse-evolution-model's nose, he just accelerated more, and tried to cut in front of the double-cab in front of me, this after he had hooted at me and showed me a middle finger accompanied with a few swearwords, something that made me want to beat him harder than Campbell hit the gay boy who stabbed him repeatedly with a pen all those years ago! Well, the fella in front of me had obviously also been observing the proceedings, and likewise refused to let Sipho Dickdribble Ndlovu in, so the acceleration by the monkey continued, while he tried his hardest to outstare the double-cab driver. Sadly for the nuclear physicist, the emergency lane was shortly going to end, with a solid stone pavement to mark its ending. More sadly for him was the fact that he, and his 30-odd passengers were all trying their damnedest to "intimidate by staring" myself and the double-cab man, instead of watching the road ahead (something that most brain-owners do when driving).
I saw it coming, and was smiling my full-tusk smile even before they hit!! Anal-bum-wart hit that pave-munt at about 70kph, 31 muntu's bumped their heads on the roof of the hi-ace in poetic unison, adding an extra 31 dents to the already-facked minibus, and the two front wheels were ripped off the chassis as the bus slid to a delightful halt on the pave-munt (a place where muntus can be). Thankfully no passengers were hurt, which made it the most fantastic thing to witness, sadly though, Sipho, arm still hanging out of the window, also was unscathed. However, his car was more facked than that prostitute at PE harbour named Deloris, and his mood was somewhat downtrodden. I hooted and made sure he got the full-frontal of my biggest-ever super smile, as did the driver of the double-cab, and then to my absolute joy, looked in my mirror to see every driver behind me doing exactly the same! The retarded brain cell had received his well-earned treatment! I was happier than Hudders when he passed his board, or at least as happy!!