STEAMING IT OFF
I AM among the millions of public transport users of this beautiful country. And boy do we suffer!
Your first worry, as you step out of the house, is if you are going to find one that is going to your destination or you are going to spend your last coins on two taxi rides (eish, there goes that apple you were going to have for lunch).
At the stop where you are supposed to catch one of these machines, they whizz by and you start playing a game of spot that taxi.
In your game you try to spot one which does not look like it will rip up your clothes as you try to clamber in.
This game is also played to try to pick out one of the contraptions that does not look like it will stall at the little incline up ahead, snarling traffic really bad and making you “later” than you already were to begin with.
More importantly though, this game is to try to pick out one that looks like it will fall apart and disintegrate when the driver pushes the accelerator all the way right down next to the wheel (OMG, there is a hole under the driver’s feet!).
You will all agree with me that it is heart-stopping when you notice the tarmac whizzing by under you in a blur of white dots, which you usually see as lines.
We all have visions of seeing yourself as a character in a cartoon series in an episode where the driver zooms off in one half of the car and you and the other passengers are left in the other half not moving, which is better than going back into the oncoming traffic.
Well, after all this stressful mind game, you finally, painfully, fold yourself into one of these pieces of equipment and it roars off!
Okay, some sputter and totter off.
Your heart does a semi-belly flop. Semi, because it never comes back down to its place in your chest after somersaulting in your throat – and that is where it stays until you finally alight.
During this ride of terror your life plays out in your head like a reel off those old projectors and you hold on for dear life.
The words that keep reeling off in your head like a mantra, “I don’t wanna die”, compete for attention with the shrilly ear-bursting noise booming from homemade speakers – giving you a mother of a headache.
I for one used to plead with the driver or his helper to lower the volume, but I have come to realise it is futile in some instances.
You see, besides all that you are already going through, you have to bear with the utter rudeness of the driver (and helper).
You ask for the radio to go down a bit, you are likely to come across one of these scenarios: the kontae might totally ignore you and not pass the message. He might pass the message and the driver ignores you.
The driver might take action, but it might be the opposite or the extreme of what you asked for — he either turns it off completely or turns it higher. Eish!
During this ride that one can only describe as horrendous there is one major thing that you have to keep up with that just has no excuse whatsoever. Not that all the ones I have mentioned above are excusable, but . . . ache khelek!
Bo-ntate, what happened to good old hygiene?
Sitting in the front seat of one of those sedans we use as public transport one day made me vow to get my own car!
And if I had the dough I would have done it the minute I got off that thing. Actually I would not have finished the darn trip!
I was already traumatised by the instances I gave above.
Then this ghastly, vile stink hit my nostrils; my eyes started to water and I could not breathe.
No oxygen — just some greenish vapour in the air!
I clamoured for the window but it did not open, politely asked the driver to open his and he cracked it open — just enough for a baby mosquito to fit — and then he ignored me completely.
When another passenger came in and requested an open window the driver snarled at him and nearly bit his head off — with yellowed and heavily loaded teeth. I had a headache the whole day.
Le li-kontae have the same problem. Actually they are the ones with the worst of the problem.
You find this guy so dirty you are afraid of taking your change back, and all the while he has his bottom right up in your face and there is a rancid pong seeping from it.
Ao bathong! Weren’t you taught to clean up your crevices at least once a day?
And look, anti-perspirants (roll-on) were actually designed for a reason.
Okay, there are some clean drivers (and helpers) out there, and there are some other dirty people (who shouldn’t be) working in other industries so this is just a plea to everyone!
Bona, that crocodile you saw in the water has long vanished! Riding your taxis is a health hazard enough.