An Uber Tale
The sequence of events that lead to the event needs careful scrutiny. It would be fair to say that it didn’t start with Monica, whom I took from 5th Avenue, Sandton to Ernest Oppenheimer Road in Bruma. If one was of an unimaginative narrative, one could be tempted to say: “Monica took me there and that was why I was there at that specific spot at that specific time, all of which made me part of the event.” The reality here is that I took Monica to her destination as paying guest and that is how I landed up there.
It could easily enough have been Monica herself, except it that she was fat and ugly, so that was never going to work in the end to begin with. It could easily have turned out differently in so many ways, which I do not wish to contemplate now. It is difficult enough to just deal with the bare facts available to me. Suffice it to say that nothing about the event or what lead to it is clear by virtue of it having happened.
One may argue that it really began when I started Ubering three months before it happened. That argument would be convincing in so far as nothing of this would have transpired if I didn’t Uber, end of story.
Let’s rather look at the events that brought me to the shady spot on Cooper Street, Cyrildene at 12:17 on Saturday 18 August 2016, my birthday. Here we have to go back to Andrew, whom I dropped off at the Audi dealership on Ernest Oppenheimer Road in Bruma, two days before.
Andrew, from Oxford Road, Illovo, was agitated in a sort of druggy ‘coming down’ kind of a way. You know what I mean: Sudden, unnecessary movements of the shoulders and hands to signal watery blue eyes. Andrew loves my ‘Welcoming Song’ and the Classic FM (102.7) music I play afterwards. It is ‘way cool’, he says.
He is on his way to buy a new car and nervous about best routes and bucks. One can understand that. Alas, Andrew is not germane to the story apart from the shady spot on Cooper St, just before it becomes Frederick, or is it Friedland, which I would not have found without him. The shady spot sits on a triangular circle, for want of better words, on Cooper St. I can’t tell, but the road splits and wends its way down over Sylvia Pass after turning left on Grace Road. Be sure to turn left onto Grace Road. Going right will take you nowhere there.
When I drop Andrew off, I’m in two minds about staying or moving so I wait my customary 15 minutes and move back in the direction of Rosebank Gautrain Station. Going back, uphill now, up Friedland or Frederick? I dread the dead kilometres I’m driving and more so when they’re uphill. “Freewheeling is much the same as sitting still but with more range,” I tell myself. Then I see the shady spot on the triangular circle on Cooper. I park there to see what gives.
Here, I’m tempted not to even mention the call from Bongani, taking me for a three-minute trip through the McDonald’s drive-thru on Marcia St after a seven-minute sit in that shady spot. However, it’s all in the timing and Bongani’s call puts me right back in that shady spot to get a call from Colleen on Louise St, just up the road.
I don’t know it yet, but the event is coming.
Colleen takes me to Kensington. In Kensington I can’t remember on which street I sat because I had hardly sat when Siyabonga calls me to take her to, you’ve guessed it, Ernest Oppenheimer. You’re beginning to get the picture. Does fate play an active hand? Does fate even have a hand? I doubt it, but this is uncanny. I’ve landed up successively in the same street thrice before, the curious case of the short and non-descript Connaught Ave in Sandringham, but you’ll remember naught happened there three times in a row. This is different.
Apart from the shade, I’m drawn to that specific spot on Cooper because from there I can go in directly into three different directions. Jessica, my beloved GPS and ‘wife’ does not do U-turns. This has led vicious arguments between us in the past. I don’t mind so much when she takes me on roundabout ways to avoid a U-turn when I’m just driving slowly in the direction of Rosebank, my ‘operational base’ if you want, but when I’m on dispatch or when I’ve already picked up a guest and instead of a suggesting a simple U-turn, she takes me on a kilometre-long detour to achieve the same result, I find it extremely embarrassing. On dispatch I want to get to my guest as soon as possible and on a trip I want to get the person to the set destination as quickly and efficiently as possible. That is my service ethos, but I digress.
I have to pick up Louise in Louise Street behind me, I know now. Even Jessica does a semi U-turn around the triangular circle and up we go, direction Sylvia Pass, past the Sunday marketplace, onto Grace and then Louise to pick up Louise, who only wants to go to Hope Street across the ridge.
These short trips are killing me. My feet hurt and I cannot think straight about fate and her hands blinding me to something I must somehow see. The ‘Welcoming Song’ has now become an earworm.
Oh fuck! I almost forgot about Fatima, also from Louise Street. Fast and flirtatious Fatima reminds me stereotypes in your own little mind are no good when doing Uber pickups. Fatima just wants to pick up some Chinese sweet & sour pork feng-shui or something from the first right from Friedland?
Then Louise calls and when I drop her in Hope Street in front of a high forbidding gate, I park in a shady spot nearby, glad to be over the ridge. “I’ll just spend another 15 minutes here,” I tell Myself, “and then call it a day and go home.” “Why don’t we just call it a day now? We’ve made target and my feet are sore.” “It’s too early. It’s only 4:53pm. Let’s wait seven minutes and perhaps take one more trip.”
I get a call at 5pm. It is from one Thabang on Hope. Hope is a one-way street. No U-turns then. I follow Jessica’s instructions and land where I’ve dropped Louise. I wait in front of the forbidding gate.
It is Louise who comes out. I look at her quizzically when she gets in. This time on the front passenger seat. Her short skirt is torn, her blouse is pulled askew. There are red marks on her wrists. “My phone died. I got the gardener to order you on his Uber account. It’s a cash trip, so I’ll pay.” “Where are we going?” “I don’t know. Just drive me away from here to someplace nice. And play your ‘welcoming song’ again. The one that says: “drink deeply from the cups of love and life’. Then it happens.