Thursday, 17 September 2015

                                                           “Sisi Front Seat”

Every taxi ride has one thing in common, and that is passengers having to sort out the taxi fare amongst themselves row by row until it reaches the driver. When you sit in the front seat you will be temporarily “employed” as the drivers “calculator” and make sure that he gets his money in full. The unfair thing is that you don’t get paid and you still have to pay your taxi fare in full, now that sucks. The job has its own weaknesses though, especially if you miscalculate, people want their change and they want it in full.

Imagine after giving the driver his money you hear someone say, “Ngicela ichange yami” and there’s no money left, you look back and you see the person looking at you like you just stole their soul! Your heart palpitates because you are flat broke and no one is willing to say “oh I got extra change”. So now what must happen? Because the driver is turning a blind eye since he got his money, it becomes a moment of a two minute nyana prayer.

I try to escape the front seat because I CANNOT count, I am mathematically absent, and now how can I handle the whole taxi’s money? I CAN’T!  That’s why the three worst words that a taxi marshal can say to me is “sisi front seat”, and he doesn’t want to hear a story so I sit there and mess up.

A few days ago I came across a miracle, the taxi ancestors are with us, there is a new app…wait for it…it’s the Phambili app ( ) and it’s an app that calculates the taxi fare for you. This app was developed by Thokozani Memela to help people like me to not be weary of ukuhlala phambili. I accessed the web based app and it’s so accurate and on point now I don't mind the front seat, so if you are like me do yourself a favour and check it out. If you do not have data take the drivers phone and access it, do it at your own discretion though lol! No more four, four masihlalisane, enjoy…

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

                                                     Four, four masihlalisane!

                               A Zola Budd after years of four, four masihlalisane.

Sometimes in life you don’t get value for your money and this is especially true in the taxi industry, at times it’s like paying for a loaf of bread only to get half a loaf. As much as we complain, we go back, simply because it’s more of a need than a want. And the funny thing is that the driver wants his money as is, not even 10 cents short. But we sit there accepting whatever is thrown our way like it’s a free ride, well I guess for us it’s all about getting to wherever we going.

Mara why ye? We sit there like sardines waiting to be rescued, while we know very well that things are neither going to change nor get better. There’s nothing more life threatening like four, four masihlalisane, it causes shortness of breath, numbness in the lower body and instant weight loss. When you hear the que marshall say these three words you immediately get off the taxi and run for your life!  Well that’s not true, in reality you sit there trying to let the que marshal know that you don’t want to sit on the three seater with four people. You perform gymnastics with your face, to no avail, and if you dare complain you going to get it and no one’s going to back you up.

Imagine squeezing four well-fed people in a three seater and each of those people are convincing themselves ukuthi “yoh mina angeke” I will sit comfortably, there’s pushing and shoving, they end up being mad at each other. And there’s always that one woman with huge hips and she tries to squeeze her entire hips into the seat, she ends up shoving herself for the rest of the ride and she constantly says “Nxa”. Then there’s that guy wearing a skinny jean and his wallet is in the back pocket, so now we have to stand up so that he can take out his taxi fare, as if he didn’t hear when they said “four, four masihlalisane”. And in all this there will be that one person knowing very well that we are immobile but they still want to eat ama-kipkip, and then they close the window! Mara that’s a story for another day…

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

                                                              I am that girl!

People are strange, more so, strangers are strange lol! They have weird habits that they cannot leave at home and those habits get frustrating when you are in a taxi with strangers and you have to tolerate each other none the less.

Some people complain about the “smells” as if they don’t contribute to it. Some don’t like people talking loud on their phones, some don’t like the small talk that someone desperately tries to make them a part of and some don’t like the driver or the music he plays period.

Well some people don’t like it when they are sitting next to someone who is…drum roll please, chewing gum! Hai some people are talented, they chew gum like it’s a World War 2 weapon that can suddenly be blown into a bubble. You sit there through every pop and you suffer in silence, wishing that it slips off their tongue and they swallow it by mistake. I am that girl who chews a bubble gum (chappies) like it’s the last one earth, I cause havoc, I don’t know why but I enjoy my bubble gum more when am in a taxi as I sit there hoping that I get home safely. I chew like a cow on steroids.

Sometimes I try to be as silent as possible but it gets out of hand so quickly that I forget that there people sitting next to me. I don’t know maybe it’s a coping mechanism phela sometimes being in a taxi can be traumatic, one can’t help but find alternative ways to keep calm. So if you happen to sit next to me in the taxi askies in advance, I can borrow you my earphones though??? 

Monday, 6 July 2015

                                   Seat surfing is for real when you are in a Zola Budd!

The Zola Budd has been around for quite a while now and I think that it’s about time it “retires”.  I don’t want to get into a Zola Budd, I prefer a Quantum simply because I won’t run the risk of sitting on the surfing seat. You know the seat that closes and opens right? , the one that doesn’t support your back? You sit there supporting your back by sitting upright and holding onto the seat in front of you, and what about those sharp knees poking you from behind? Hai ngeke. The funny thing is that when the taxi starts to speed up and you surfing in Durban while the rest of the taxi is in Joburg, people look at you like you crazy, like it’s your fault or something. Please.

Kelebogile made me laugh until I cried when she told me about her seat surfing experience. The thing is when you seat surfing you can’t wait to get off, so as the taxi was approaching the robot where She, Cas and Ole were supposed to get off they said “after robot”. The driver didn’t stop, oh I can imagine her reaching for the door in desperation, thinking “Yoh I made it” only to surf one last time. The shock, the trauma and oh the survival mode that her body must have had to go through. I can only imagine them singing “After robot” Lol!   

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

                                                       Dankie Phoy’sa!

It’s no funny business when a taxi driver is being reckless on the road, not only is he putting us in danger but also other road user’s. Whether Mageza is driving on the wrong side of the road or above the speed limit doesn’t make it right purely because ‘uMageza’.  While I understand that there are a number of reasons why they do what they do, like passengers who are late for work or some stokvel, or Mageza in a hurry to get his second load but reckless driving doesn’t solve anything. In fact it causes more problems than anticipated.

We think we have a say on how ‘uMageza’ drives but sometimes I feel like we don’t have a choice, wait until he stops suddenly and everyone in the taxi is tossed back and forth like a defrosted Vienna. In that moment you will know that what you say does not matter. Women always complain, saying things like; “Haibo asifuni ukufa thina.”, “Wooo wasinyusela ushukela bo.” or exaggerated screams, hoping that ‘uMageza’ will get the message loud and clear. Sometimes we are in a hurry vele but not in such a hurry that we’d risk being injured or worse. It’s no light matter  when your heart is beating so fast that you can’t remember where you going or where you come from or your palms sweating like the Vaal dam, you won’t feel like saying “Dankie Driver” you will say a two second nyana prayer just for you to get home.

Last week Tuesday on my way home from work, I was shocked as the taxi got full ‘uDriver’ got in and he couldn’t stop talking. This driver I usually get driven by him but his never like this, as the journey progressed it was clear that he was drunk, and a few old men were condoning his driving. They were saying things like; “uyayi shaya imotor lo driver” or “ekseni kufuneka wena driver, sizofika early.” The women on the other hand were totally against this, including me. As we approached the Golden Highway there was a backtrack of traffic and he decided to drive on the oncoming traffic lane, and he was speeding. At that point I was praying in tongues, in that moment of desperation the lifesaving siren sounded, it was metro police! After attempting to speed away they caught up with him, he was arrested and one of the metro cops drove us home safely. 

Sometimes we don’t like seeing ama-traffic cop but this time I believe he saved our lives and on behalf of everyone in that taxi sithi dankie Phoy’sa!

Monday, 8 June 2015

                      Every ride is a different experience…

We can all buy the same bread but the taste can differ because of what we put on it. The same goes for the taxi industry, the rules are the same and the taxis might look alike but the experience is unique and somewhat represents a particular area.  With my experience I have concluded that the experience is moulded by the people in the taxi.

For example, when you get in a taxi from or to Soweto you have to greet the people in the taxi or else you will be punished with expressions like “tjo”, “woo abantwana banamhlanje”, or just a silence that speaks louder than words. On the other hand, a taxi from or to any suburb is different from that, you get into the taxi shut your mouth (unless your change is shot/ missing as mageza puts it) until you get off.  Not acknowledging each other is a norm.
A taxi with’ Sowetans’ is like taking a ride with your family members,   people have conversations with each other as though they know each other. Sometimes it’s like therapy sessions and at times it’s a war zone.

In a taxi to Zola I met uBab’ uRadebe, he set next to me and desperately tried to get me to like him. After his cheesy compliments, I just leaned back in my sit and told him that he could be my father; after all we had more similarities than one and I won’t have to go to khumbul’ ekhaya. I managed to make him laugh at least, and so he went on to tell me his life story and I was touched. Here is a black man who works nine to five for his kids and wife only to support his wife’s alcohol addiction, eventually he ended the marriage and  but kept the kids. A single black father, this was a shock to my world. 

In the same breath on my way to work from Zola, I almost experienced a crime scene first hand. The driver was telling us that the people who were going to Sauer/Seme Pixley Street were causing us to be late and that we should not allow them to take the same taxi as those of us who are going to End Street. The lady sitting on the passenger sea
t abruptly said, “Haisuka! Ayikho itaxi eya eSauer k’phela mos.” Yoh she didn’t know what she started. Apart from ubab’ Mageza calling her the ‘B ’word after her comment, he said “ngathi unga tshayiswa yemotor or bakhu rape masimabakho.” She got off the taxi lifted her middle finger at him, he switched off the taxi and as he was about to get off the robot turned green. After that I was scared to even sneeze, I said after robot and got off so fast I forgot my name.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

                                                           Welcome to our taxi stories!

I have been riding taxi 's ever since I could say my name and every time I am riding in one I tell myself that this is my last ride, not because it’s that terrible but I just want to get to work without being wrinkled or just full of dust from all the walking that I do to get to the taxi rank. And sometimes I can't stand 16 different people’s odours made into just one big chakalaka of a perfume!

The earliest memory of riding a taxi is when I was about 4 years old. I was sitting on my mother’s lap and I was wondering why people were giving each other money, not knowing that they were paying and giving each other change.

Since that day the taxi ride has been as normal to me as brushing my teeth! It’s such an important part of my life because it makes it possible for me to hustle by getting from A to Z. 

Every taxi ride is different; the taxi drivers are normal people, and they come in all types of personalities and characters. I’ve met rude ones, funny ones, quiet ones and some really inspiring ones. They set the mood in the taxi, like this morning the driver was angry and rude. He was driving recklessly and whenever he stopped unexpectedly causing us to bump our heads and not even saying ‘sorry’. The people were angry and they were swearing at the driver and when they wanted to get off, they didn’t say short left, short right, stop sign, after robot or before robots, they just said stop! And at one point he didn’t stop and a guy just stood up and started swearing at the driver and all of a sudden I took the driver’s side and I wanted to smack the guy and run away, but Jeppestown was just too far.

The unpredictable happens when a bunch of strangers climb into a taxi together and are expected to be civil with each other. All sorts of things can happen and I want to share my taxi stories and I hope that you too can share your stories and maybe we can laugh together…