Monday, May 16, 2011
As my friend Tsego Raphuti and I concluded: you have not lived until you’ve been through a taxi rank. I am not the adventurous type. In fact, you wouldn’t be far off if you described me as having the heart of a chicken.
This past weekend I attended a friends 25th birthday party and the only way I could get there was by using a taxi from Pretoria to Midrand. I spent Saturday dreading this trip. Although she had given me a guideline as to how I would eventually get to Midrand, I was guaranteed a few unforeseeable incidences and I hate unpredictability. Anyways, if I gave it too much thought I would change back into my pyjamas and make a “sorry I can’t come” call.
I threw on my coat, grabbed my handbag and made one last call to confirm which side of the road I should stand on. Feeling like quite the tool, I raised my index finger to signal that I was going to town. Within minutes a taxi swept passed and stopped 500 meters later to pick me up. I quickened my step, opened the door and sat close to the front so I could ask the driver to drop me off close to taxi’s heading towards Midrand. It was too late to turn back and I say this because even as I sat in the moving taxi, the thought crossed my mind. A few minutes later all 15 passengers were being shuffled around. Three taxis’ gathered at a stop and divided us according to final destination. Such is the unpredictability that puts me on edge. Like fools we were on and off and on again (roll eyes). Non-the less, 10 minutes later I was at the main taxi rank.
Whilst everyone else knew where they were going, I didn’t. The hustle and bustle is enough to bring on an anxiety attack. Where were my Rescue tablets? Straight face, jacket buttoned, and bag under armpit I missioned as if I knew. Early life experience taught me taxi- drivers are big meanies and 15 years later, nothing had changed. How dare I ask a parked taxi driver in the middle of a conversation where to find the Midrand taxis? I regretted asking as soon as the words came out. He looked me up and down and pointed in the general direction of… nowhere. A second opinion led me to right queue.
Relief; to be sitting at the back row, next to a window watching vendors and travellers from a distance. I am pretty sure there were rats scurrying around. You have not lived until you have experienced the filth, medley of smells, activity and somewhat organised chaos at a taxi rank. All whilst seated next to three bulky men or in between two rotund women. Bless you if your sitting in front and have the responsibility of collecting the money and distributing change to each passenger. Many a horror stories have been experienced in this enviroment. Paul Auster should consider writing his next trilogy at some of SA's popular taxi ranks.