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Uber Tales (34)

I sit at the carwash and think I should use the time to write something, but what? There is the curious case of Carl the serial canceller. Now Carl, what little I know of him, is an Uber Assist passenger, meaning he probably has some sort of disability. That is what Uber Assist is all about although many people accidentally press that button which is great for me in quiet times, but also a bit like parking in the disabled parking bay when you’re not disabled. A bit rude and inconsiderate, what?

Anyway, I first make the non-acquaintance of Carl on a quiet morning in Rooihuiskraal. Ping-ping-ping goes my device and I thank who or whatever we atheists thank for Uber Assist because it is such a call and it is very quiet.

The call comes from one Carl. I switch off my Taxify app and on my Waze navigation app and start the car. I’m hardly out of the blocks when Carl cancels. I sigh and I reverse back into my shady spot where I switch what needs to be on, on and what needs to be off, off.

I had hardly done so or my device goes ping-ping-ping. A lovely sound on a quiet morning in Rooihuiskraal. It’s Carl again. I sit tight. Carl cancels. I laugh out loud. Carl is on a sticky wicket if he really wants an Uber Assist but doesn’t want me.

I know this because not all Uber drivers are Uber Assist drivers.

Ready to assist you Carl…

I had to fill out a lengthy questionnaire to qualify for Uber Assist and despite being drunk while doing so, I apparently did it right. In Carl’s case it might well be that I’m the only Uber Assist in the whole of Rooihuiskraal. Carl calls and cancels again. I laugh again. What does Carl have against me, I wonder, oh I wonder?

Now Carl gets clever, or so he thinks. He gets his pal Andy to order a cash trip for him … from the same address. Andy cancels. This could have gone on for a bit but then I get another trip and drive out of Carl’s range.

Had the story ended there, it wouldn’t have been worth telling. It didn’t. I sit under a tree in Blairgowrie the next day. It is still quiet. Ping-ping-ping! It’s another Uber Assist trip! Thank goodness! It’s another Carl! I stay put. Carl cancels. I laugh out loud. Another call, another Carl who cancels.

Now, I’m not making this up. I sit under a tree, this time in Bryanston on the same day and lo and behold Carl calls and cancels again. What are the odds? What does Carl have against me? One would probably never know.

Meanwhile you can assist me by donating to this here fine blog. Just dump some money into the Capitec Savings Account of CR Visser Acc Number 1463736582, Branch Code 470010. If you can’t do that, please like my FB page; ‘ChuckV’s Taxi’.

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Chuckv

January 29th

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Uber Tales (33)

Uber Superstitions

Mine comes in twos. I see the Rosebank Union Church coming out while I’m on a trip. I’ll drive back there once I’ve dropped my charge some 2km further along William Nicol, I think. The previous time I did a pick-up there, I kvetched the Nameless Nissan by driving over a middleman while making a U-turn. Lesson learnt. I won’t do something like that to the sporty Super Sias, I think.

I’m always nervous returning to a place where I kvetched my car before. Back at the church I see there are still many people about. Now just to find a shady spot to park in. I make a U-turn. Kvetch! On the front bumper. Not a serious kvetch, but a kvetch nonetheless. I sigh.

I do get a call from where I’s sitting and sighing. It is from the Tara Mental Hospital 2km away and not from the church. Uber’s is a crazy world. I pick the guy up from the nurse’s home. There’s an unmarked speed bump in the shade. Kvetch! Underneath the front bumper. I sigh a sigh of relief. If they come in twos, I got off lightly this time.

I’m an atheist and I don’t know why I belief all this shit. Take the parking bays at Rosebank Gautrain as example. There’s one I’m convinced will give me a trip from the Hyatt Regency. That’s a good thing because it is unlikely to be a pesky 2km trip. Another, my firm belief is, will yield only pesky 2km trips. Yet another will not give anything at all. Trains and Ubers can come and go, but I will stay put. All 10 of the shaded parking spots are next to each other in a space the size of a tennis court. Go figure.

I’m sitting in such a dead spot as I write this. On the upside the dead spot allows me time to write. Usually the universe applauds the act of writing by giving me a trip. Remember, the universe applauds action not thoughts. Not in this dead spot. Not on your Nelly!

Super Sias and I in the Pesky 2km Trip bay at Rosebank Gautrain

I’ll step out of the car and go stand in the ‘Hyatt Regency’ spot with my phone. I’ll also light a smoke. The universe often applauds that action by giving me a trip. Strangely it doesn’t applaud the action of me pouring coffee from my car’s boot in the same way. The universe can be funny in that way.

Sorry for the interruption. I got a pesky 2km trip while walking across the ‘Pesky 2km Trip’ bay. I had to nip my freshly lit smoke in the bud to bow to the universe’s applause.

I walk across the ‘Anywhere but the Gautrain’ bay and as I light my smoke I get the call from Cradock Ave. The universe is generous with its Uber applause today.

Then there are negative thoughts that one should not think such as: I’m only a minor mishap away from a major disaster. I did NOT think THAT! When last I thought such thoughts, I got two very serious kvetches in two days.

I have many other little superstitions like watching soft porn will bring bad luck and that if my first trip is into the Joburg CBD, I’ll get another two there that same day, but they are boring so I won’t go into them. As a matter of fact, my superstition that the first trip determines the rest of the day, often plays itself out and I wonder if it is a superstition at all? I began today with two pesky 2km cash trips. I sigh. I get seven more of the same in a row. They come in twos, right? Yeah, right.

On a more positive note, I firmly believe that if I keep on asking for donations to this here fine blog, somebody, somewhere will some day pay something into my Capitec Savings Account 1463736582, Branch Code 470010 (CR Visser). If you can’t do that, at least ‘like’ my Facebook page ‘ChuckV’s Taxi’.

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Chuckv

January 23rd

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Uber Tales (32)

Uber Beggars

Some juggle for a precarious existence or is that juggling a precarious existence? They’re truly ubiquitous. When I see a traffic light without one of them, I’m tempted to take a photo. It’s a rarity. Some just sit, some say something about two bucks and bread, making movements with their hands indicating the need to eat. Some others form troupes and do synchronised dancing with the help of crates.

At the intersection of William Nicol and Leslie Ave they mime what appears to be figures from the American Civil War in suits sprayed silver. The incongruity of that fits in neatly with the overhead traffic lights that look like space ships. Their faces and hands also seem silver and I wonder if it can be good for their skins? Do they make any money?

They’re back every single day so there must be something in it for them. I sigh. It must be tough standing dead still in the blazing sun day after day in a stiff silver suit. I see one of their motionless faces close-up and is somehow relieved to note that it isn’t spray painted silver, but rather covered in a white powdery substance. Fortunately white-facing yourself isn’t racist yet. Or is it?

One day I sit at a service station when a crate dancing troupe of young boys, who should really be in school, invade the convenience store, grabbing chips and sweets and cold drinks by the armful. Are they the vanguard of Julius Malema’s EFF doing active redistribution? Their faces tell a different story. They are no angry mob. They smile from ear to ear and pay for their wares. I ask them what happened. A lady gave them R1200. I smile as they hasten off to enjoy the spoils of their toils with an impromptu picnic.

Simangaliso and his dancing troupe make about R600 per day at the corner of Sandton Drive and Marie Ave.

Some are aggressive. The squeegee guys spraying their soapy water through my open window, for example. I’m a sedate guy who used to drive a sedate car (the Nameless Nissan) listening to sedate music. Not much has changed except that Super Sias can hardly be described as sedate. It’s as nippy as the proverbial bat out of hell, but I digress. I’m a sedate guy and I just switch on my wipers and roll up my window while loudly shouting f@ck-off you c@nt! This sometimes startles my passengers.

Some other drivers are not so sanguine about the aggression. They get out of their cars and clip the offenders around the ears. So it’s a risky business being a squeegee guy. You have to be as fast as the proverbial bat out of hell to evade the burly rugby player getting out of his car ready and able to flatten you in one fell swoop of his gigantic fist.

Yet some others begin their lives in the Finishing School for Beggars. The little children emulating the little curtsies and hand-to-mouth movements indicating, once again, the need to eat of their ‘guardians’. Will they finish their lives in the same fashion? Probably, I sigh.

Another common variety of beggar is the one holding the placard reading: I KEEP THESE INTESECTION SPOTELESS AND CRIME FREE! Chaps, there are too many of you. Begging has clearly become a very competitive business. You’ll have to up your game. Start with spelling. I know most newspapers are not getting it right these days, but teach them a lesson: “I care about spelling and grammar!” That would be a good place to start. It will definitely give you an edge and maybe give me another job.

Some beggars probably have begging as their only option. I’m talking about the visibly handicapped like the Hunchback of Bompas Road. An interview with him that appeared in The Star reveals that he has a house, a wife and a daughter. I always thought he was living in a cardboard box while loudly praising or cursing God in a mixture of English, Zulu and Portuguese. He pays R50 per day to get to ‘work’ and back and he budgets for home improvements at his house in Matola in Mozambique! He’s a truly astonishing fellow. You can read the article here: https://www.iol.co.za/saturday-star/news/thestreetpeople-the-hunchback-of-bompass-road-11389319

It sure puts your shit (and mine) in some kind of perspective.As for my own sorry ass, I just phone you or ask for donations here: CR Visser, Capitec Savings Acc: 1463736582. Branch Code 470010. Cheers.

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Chuckv

January 11th

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The Most Beautiful Place on Earth

The most beautiful place in the world is scared of nothing. Not of love, nor hate, not of nothing. It is. It is rain and thunder. It is nothing and everything. I wake up at 01:45 to write this but then I run out of steam and realise what I wanted to write is this: Nothing says summer better than the smell of freshly mown lawn and a bright burst of bougainvilla to my right as I write from the most beautiful place on earth.

The place in question is situated on my friends Danie and Maaretjie’s farm ‘Node’ in the Eastern Free State, near the picturesque little town of Clarens. One could easily just stop there and say the whole area is the most beautiful in the world and one would not be far off any given truth.

However, just as Salvador Dali’s ‘Centre of the Universe’ is situated on the ceiling of the train station in Perpignan and does not include the whole of Perpignan, my ‘Most Beautiful Place in the World’ is a specific spot on Danie’s farm.

It is under a giant oak tree with the brilliantly blooming bougainvilla to the left if you want the view with the fields rolling away behind the white waving bulrushes across the emerald green freshly cut lawn to the mountains far off and forlorn.

The buzzing of the bees, everything the eye sees and even the rubble from the building of a new beginning, invite the belief that indeed one is closer to God or the gods (as your fancy might be) than anywhere else on earth. There is a plaque to that effect nailed to the gnarly old oak tree. The tree does not seem cross though. It spreads its arms to shade all below.

From left to right: Kevin, #NotMyGirlfriendJax, Maaretjie and Danie in

the Most Beautiful Place on Earth.

Whatever your troubles real or perceived might be, go and sit under that old tree and you’ll breathe free, I can guarantee. That old oak has seen better and worse than you and me.

But talking about new beginnings, Danie and Maaretjie are building a factory for their Noah’s Cheese, made in the shadow of Mount Ararat (I kid you not). They’re going big this New Year, proving once again that no matter what your age, you can change tack however leaky your ship may seem to be. And sail forward against the wind.

Maaretjie (real name Marietjie) has been a forex trader, Danie’s fulltime nurse and whatnot in between. Now she is an award winning cheese maker and forgiver of me for all my sins, including, but not limited to, broken glasses, wine and other spillages as well as broken dustbins and more sins.

Danie has been everything from an almost dead military intelligence officer to a banker and corporate clean-cook stove salesman (to replace paraffin stoves and all the ills they bring into township shacks every day) to his current position of Chief Vacuum-Pack Machine Operator of Noah’s Cheese.

He relishes that title as we laugh under the old oak tree where Maaretjie got the idea to make cheese as a hobby because her father gave her a cow and she had too much milk and nothing much else. That is where the most beautiful ideas form: When you can breathe free under a tree.

Here I sit now under a tree, almost broke but much better off than last year this time when I was completely so. I now know what I’ll regret most on my deathbed: Worries about money. I spent the whole of 2017 doing so, yet here I am sitting under a tree, saying: “My next trip will be a very long one so I’ll just enjoy this very short one in the Most Beautiful Place on Earth.”

I give #NotMyGirlfriendJax the eyes and she smiles.

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Chuckv

January 6th

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Uber Tales (31)

Uber Super Sias

The girl giggled in my passenger seat. She scrolled through this here fine blog that I’ve been neglecting for so long and she giggled. I realised I have to write again. I was caught in a vicious circle of being depressed because I wasn’t writing and not writing because I was depressed. Enough of that bullshit, I’ll introduce Sias to you as a new beginning.

My new car ‘Sias’ is my first new car. Sias is a mostly Afrikaans name for boys. Not even a popular one and also not an abbreviation of something else, however, what are you going to name your brand new Suzuki Ciaz, but Sias? I call it Super Sias. It practically named itself.

I really like Super Sias. It’s nippy and nifty and brand new. What’s not to like? I never liked Sias’ predecessor, the Nameless Nissan. I now refer to it as the ‘Nameless Nissan’ (NN) because I never bothered to give it a name. My disregard for the car was born out of my dislike for its lines. It was ugly to begin with and even uglier when I traded it in.

It gained many ugly new contours to its already ugly exterior. I called those ‘kvetches’. In the end the thing was so kvetched on the one side that I was forced drive past my pickup points and turn around to present the ‘good’ side to my passengers. But enough about the NN and its kvetches. I miss it not.

Having said that, the more I drive Super Sias, the more unflattering comparisons regarding the NN come to mind. For instance, on Christmas day I drove a lot in Soweto. Yes, Soweto is coming to the Uber and Taxify party in a big way, especially over weekends and public holidays.

Now, driving in Soweto reminds me ever so much of driving in Paris. It is not for the fainthearted. You have to go with the flow. Duck, dive, swerve, ignore all traffic rules, avoid hitting running kids, goats and cows and avoid hitting other vehicles all ignoring all traffic rules. You have to keep your wits about you all the time to avoid any number of kvetches.

Fortunately the flow tends to be slow due to the congestion caused by everybody and their dog ignoring all traffic rules. I drove from one trip to the next, not stopping once. As the day wore on, I suddenly realised I was getting tired. I looked at the odometer and it said 284.6km! To put this in context, the NN had me dog tired by 200km and the last 40km of those 200 always felt like slow torture. Super Sias must be doing something different.

Super Sias and I…

Is it the smooth gear action? The Nameless’ gears always felt clunky to me. Is it Sias’ nippiness and sharp eye for the gap? I know not, but driving it more than 280km under the most trying conditions before getting tired surely tells a story worth repeating?

Also, when I finally stopped after 300km, I accidentally went online on Uber and immediately got a call. I took the trip to the airport and drove straight back. I then joined my friend Heinrich for a beer and could almost immediately strike up a conversation with him. You can ask Not-My-Girlfriend Jax about how it normally takes me an hour and two beers before I find my tongue after 200km in the NN.

Is it the fact that I don’t have to worry about maintenance for the next 200 000km? I’m sure that plays a role. Worrying about the next big maintenance expense all the time can be very tiring in itself. Very tiring.

Super Sias also does the most admirable job hiding mud splatter on its exterior. The white NN wore its mud splatter like a mark of dishonour. I go to the carwash and I hardly do a kilometre before hitting a mud puddle. My next passenger sends in a complaint about ‘cleanliness’. I sigh deeply.

If there’s a criticism of Sias, it is that its indicator and wiper levers are on the wrong sides. Why can’t damn carmakers not put the damn things in the same place? How difficult can it be to put the wipers on the right of the steering column and the indicator on the left or fucking vice versa as long as it is the same in all cars?

Sias’ maiden trip took place in a thunderstorm and it was a mess of wipers being switched off while the indicator indicated right when I wanted to go left. That I didn’t kvetch the car seriously on that trip is a wonder I still marvel at, as I still do at Super Sias, my first brand new car. May it ride long and kvetch-free as I only put on the wipers instead of the indicator once a day of late.

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Chuckv

December 26th

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Uber Tales 30

Uber Dumb

I drive myself dumb and I have proof of it. An article I recently read online, so it must be true, states: “The 93,000 people who drove more than two to three hours a day typically had lower brainpower at the start of the study, which kept on declining throughout, at a faster rate than those who did little or no driving.”

I concur heartily and you, dear reader, will probably do too just on the basis of my output (or lack thereof) on this here fine blog. I drive 10 hours a day. My days, weeks and months pass by in a single blur of driving, drinking a bit too much and sleeping without so much as a single idea crossing my mind. My mind is solely occupied with chasing a buck. It is a dreadful state of affairs.

I sell cheese on Sundays to counter the dumbness. I don’t sell any old cheese, I sell fresh Noah’s cheese. Maaretjie makes them. I sell them alongside my erstwhile muse Jax who is busy with her crossword puzzle.

I become a cheesy actor saying lines like: “You wanna taste my cheese. I know you wanna ‘cause I’m psychic in that way.” How damn cheesy can you get? I love it and I sell cheese.

I talk about ‘your boring feta versus my soaring salaté’ and often use Tom Waits’ line from Step right up, “It turns your sandwich into a banquet”. I use rhyme: “Now the string cheese, you unstring with your fingers in a therapeutic way and then, when you feel like Zen, a ball like that, fills a bowl like this with sheer snacking bliss.”

When I say I sell cheese, I mean it and when I say Uber is driving me dumb, I mean it too.

At night I fall asleep with me being the blue dot on the Uber app’s home screen, except I’m brown for some reason. In the mornings, I almost always wake up with the same dream. I get an Uber call and my finger reaches to accept it. Then I tell myself: “You can’t take that call, we’re still in bed.” Then I wake up.

Further proof, if further proof is needed, that too much driving drives you dumb, is the behaviour of the thugs posing as ‘metered’ taxis. They mostly have driven all their lives and it shows in their reaction to the advent of Uber. Apart from pissing off the remaining idiots (retired drivers?) who would still consider using them, they’re fighting a battle that cannot possibly be won and they must know it. It’s like pissing into Hurricane Irma. Yet, they fight on, dumbly.

Talking about dumbness and Hurricane Irma, reportedly the fiercest in recorded history, it must take a special kind of dumb to ignore the fact of climate change. As to what is driving it, I’m too dumb to say, but what is clear, is that it’s happening with all sorts of new bad records being recorded. The worst drought in history in the Western Cape is a case in point.

I must venture that climate change is human driven, if only by our sheer numbers. Seven billion and every day a new bunch of drivers-to-be are born. I have no records to support my assertion that young Donald Drumpf, as he was once known, must have been a keen driver. Now he is trying to drive the world to war. Yes, driving makes you dumb.

I wish the evil marketing ‘geniuses’ who brought us dumbing down would now clever up. We can do with a bit of clever.

 

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Chuckv

September 11th

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Uber Tales (29)

Uber Right

“Sometimes,” I tell Vince on Nuno’s stoep, “I feel as if the universe itself is conspiring to make my life a misery.” He gives a dry and laugh: “Yes, of the seven billion people down here, the universe is picking on Chuck by stealing or breaking his phone. It’s a tough life being Chuck.”

I prefer sitting at Nuno’s these days. It’s quieter, the chairs are softer and I can still converse with the denizens of the Xai on whom I now look down, literally, and sometimes figuratively too.

I don’t hold much truck with the universe influencing my daily existence. I’m to it the ant underfoot, the particle within the particle that can explain the nothingness. Still sometimes I long for anything that can explain the rise of the Zuptas. Their Icarian fall is inevitable, yet they foul my skies with their filthy wings of lies. I, like you, live in the now and they’re fucking up my now, right now. They should be punished for that alone. And harshly.

Many children could have been taught, many drainpipes bought, cancers fought, but it all came to naught as the Zupta’s sought to steal every last cent with no sense of ever being caught. The failed Motion of No Confidence in the Lying, Stealing, Dancing, Laughing, Fucking #1 may have been a disguised blessing as I’ve already pointed out five years ago when I wrote a blog entitled Bring on Five More Years of Zuma http://chuckv.co.za/bring-on-five-more-years-of-zuma/#.WYsurNN95yw. My argument then was, and still is, that Zuma will rid us of ‘Liberation Movement’ politics sooner than the 30-odd years it usually take for such movements to implode and then he and the Zuptas will be caught. That day can’t come soon enough now. I hope I’m right.

Reading the writing on the wall right…

But back to the universe and I. The ‘improve yourself’ course on which H (Eish!) sent me told me that the universe applauds action not thoughts. I firmly believe if you do the right things right the outcome would be alright and fuck the universe and the Zuptas. Yesterday I walk into the Post Office with a determined step. I’m there to renew my license disk. It’s the right thing to do two weeks before it expires. It’s action too. I do it at the Post Office because their system can’t ‘see’ my traffic fines, right? Wrong. I have two outstanding fines. I go and pay them. “Some fucking applause,” I think.

My certificate comes out with the instruction that I have to get a new roadworthy certificate. This is unheard of. I sigh and go to the testing station. All of this costs money. Lots of it and doing the admin brings none in. I sigh. My car fails the roadworthy. I sigh again. Fortunately it isn’t big budget items needing to be replaced. I fix some light bulbs and replace the wiper blades, but still, all the money I thought I had saved (the right thing) by living frugally, making my own food and letting other people pay for my drinks just evaporate.

I sigh. I keep the trip switches of my sanity up by assuring Myself that good things can also happen unexpectedly and that it isn’t only bad shit that comes from the blind side. He gives a dry and hollow laugh. “Yeah Chuck, you just keep on doing the right things right and the outcome will be alright … like the ANC, right?” Before I can think of an apt retort, the universe applauds my action of writing with a trip call, or was it the action of lighting a smoke. One would never know.

Meanwhile, my friend Charli died of a heart attack after attending her first book launch, Fanie’s Hierdie Huis. Her doctor wanted to admit her to hospital, Charli wanted to attend the book launch. Who was right?

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Chuckv

August 9th

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Uber Tales (28)

Uber likes and dislikes

I dislike men man-sitting on my passenger seat. I cannot understand why they do not move their knees after I’ve touched them with my first gearshift. Do they like my touch? I can’t say, but it means I have to draw my hand into a claw to change gears. This irritates me. It’s somewhat different with women, except the really fat ones who bulge over the edge of the seat. “Uh,” I say inwardly every time my hand brushes their flowing thighs.

I like enthusiastic passengers because I know they will give me a 5-star rating. I also like to get a surly person to smile or laugh for the same reason. I like 5-star ratings despite the fact that one of Uber’s developers from San Francisco told me the ratings mean nothing on the upside. They are only a punitive tool. Nevertheless, I like my high rating and always strive to raise it. “I do it for myself and not for you,” I tell my passengers.

The sight of miles and miles of cluster homes is a delight. It’s uber Uber territory. “This is as good as it gets,” I tell myself when we stop in a shady spot among these. They have wishful, evocative names like San Marino, Villa Palerma, Palm Springs, Sunrise Boulevard, Hampton Court, Greenfield Parks, Panorama Estates and so on. I think the inhabitants of such yuppie ghettos are mostly happy, but I cannot be sure enough to say so.

I hate missing trips due to technological malfunctions of my phone such as the one Esther gave me. This happens often enough to make me resentful. My Uber and Taxify apps don’t like each other on this phone. When I am on the one, I often miss a trip on the other because I get no alert from the one I’m not looking at directly. That means I have to be alert at all times.

I can’t afford to read my friend Faan’s (his nom de plume is Kleinboer, but I think he’s big) new book Hierdie Huis (This House). I really enjoy the book. It is sure to win big literary awards, but instead I must sit and watch my fucking phone like a hawk. I would rather just read the book and switch off the fucking apps, but I can’t afford that either. It is stupid and I detest stupid. On quiet days missing a trip redoubles my resentment.

Where could that trip have taken me? But no, I’ll never know.

I am not fond of having to make decisions about where best to station myself. It’s best that the trips do that on my behalf. I sometimes like to think things happen for a reason other than them just happening randomly. I know they don’t but I sometimes I do like to think it:

Did I lose my cellphone so that Esther could give me one that didn’t work so well with the Uber and Taxify apps leading to many missed trips which made me worry about money and which I then could swap for Laura’s and cause havoc in her and Ryk’s lives when it fucked out completely? No I lost my cellphone because I was drunk.

What sequence of trips led the Uber guy who got set alight in Pretoria and died to exactly that spot, at exactly that time? A random one, I can assure you.

I do not like drop-offs in crappy areas. Crappy areas lead to crappier areas where all spots are shady. I like to sit in shady spots but not in shady areas where there is often very little shade.

Worrying about money annoys me and spoils my appetite. “The people of Krugersdorp do not take Ubers,” I tell myself, knowing it is not true. Eleven missed trips tell the story. I eat only a third of my six-minute cheese, egg and steak roll I make myself every day. It becomes three meals.

It’s food porn. You can time making it by the length of time anyone can watch a porn movie before coming or going: Six minutes.

I love the smell of wood smoke in the air: Joburg’s winter nights. That is how my city smells. In spring there is jasmine thick in the air. It is incontestably there in your every nostril. In summer some braai somewhere makes me smile. Autumn comes in colours everywhere here. I love this city.

The resentment and bile rising in me when I think of what the Singing, Laughing, Stealing, Dancing, Fucking #1 and his band of stealing assholes are doing to my South Africa is beyond the descriptive powers of my words. I hate, revile, detest … How can anyone describe a filthy thief stealing the hopes and dreams of his whole country? I can’t.

I love getting trips and I just got one now. It’s a man man-sitting on his way to Wanderers Taxi Rank in the Joburg CBD, one of the he worst drop-offs in the city.

He has problems of his own. They are much worse than mine. He has to take a long distance taxi out of there. I just have to get back to Rosebank Gautrain. Twenty bucks is a big deal to him, he says laughingly and I believe him as he takes his broken old suitcase to a hostel some place in Limpopo. His wound has perhaps healed, Tom, and mine is a mere scratch and no match.

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Chuckv

July 20th

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Uber Tales (27)

My Uber SA

“The reason,’ I tell my new muse, Jax, ‘I can’t write at the moment, is that I’m swimming against a tsunami of shit hitting my South Africa.” She’s not amused. “Then there’s also the cat Patat jumping onto my lap continuously and preening over my keyboard as soon as an inkling of an idea forms,” I add, knowing she likes cats.

Of course I don’t tell her this. I tell myself that in my head as I stroke the Patat while it walks over my keyboard while I try to conjure up a positive about the state of the country on Jax’s instruction. A tough call.

I sit in the Xai with Jax. It’s a Sunday night a year ago and the place is fairly empty. This is strange because the national soccer team, Bafana Bafana, are playing somebody. I can’t remember who because I’m not watching as is nobody else. Not even Eddie, the sports crazy manager and soccer mad waiters. I ask Eddie about the disdainful disinterest and he says: “Bah! Bafana! Who cares?” The stands are also empty.

The Zupta sock-puppet who acted as MINISTER OF SPORT (I’MaVIP) is on TV saying something about TRANSFORMATION (his capitalisations) of rugby and cricket, two very successful codes. I pay little heed. I wonder about soccer, our national sport. Why is that transformed into our national disgrace? Why does the so-called minister not go on about TRANSFORMATION of soccer? The answer jumping to the lips is that it is already shit and clearly needs no further transformation by the minister.

That SELF-IMPORTANT FUCKER (my capitalisation) is now in charge of law enforcement. May Kurt Vonnegut’s apathetic and indifferent god help us all, but as you know, he won’t. So, I’m once again forced to put a positive spin on this ball of shit created by the ANC. Mbulula is but one of the many balls of shit created by the MERDOMASTER©™®© (my caps) Jacob Jackshit Zuma himself.

The late Suna Venter said one must never write anything when angry. The problem here is that whenever I think of our shit state government I GET FUCKING ANGRY! Sorry about that, let’s move to positive spin territory.

Jax and I sit in the Xai on a Saturday and the place is packed. This is not strange because there’s a rugby Test between SA and France on TV. Central to the crowd is a boisterous and vocal group of friends. They’re mainly young black guys with a sprinkling of coloureds, a whitey and a girl or two. They loudly praise and criticise the players by name and not by colour.

After the match, which the Springboks won convincingly for a series whitewash, they notice the portrait of me by Elsabe de Klerk on the wall and ask for a photo op. I gladly oblige, but when I tell them that Elsabe may or may not be FW’s niece, the one guy fakes choking and a mate does a joking Heimlich manoeuver on him. The fictional cause of his near death, he says after it has been removed, was the memory of apartheid. We all laugh at that.

This is My South Africa at its best. I always tell people in my car that Melville is what South Africa and the world should aspire to. It is a happy and inclusive place where all races, genders and ages mix freely and happily. The only people who would not be welcome here would be Victoria Geoghegan and any representative of Bell Pottinger. Why can’t it be like that elsewhere? I honestly do not know why. The barbaric stupidity of racism, I suppose. Yes, racism is indeed a barbaric and stupid impulse, but I digress.

I drive people around and drop many of them off in the parking lots of bustling malls. SA is apparently the country with the most shopping malls per capita and I can well believe it. There’s one wherever you go and they’re all bustling. I remark this to my Uber passengers and say: “When I see this, I think ‘junk status, my ass’.” They like that. We may well have a junk president and a junk government, but the country is fine. Take my word for it.

Talking about our junk president, I wonder if there will ever be a street or a square named after him? Who would want to do that once he is in jail where he belongs? Does he ever think of his legacy? Clearly not. What will it be? A statue of a giant turd may well be the answer. That will finally give the people something to laugh about when thinking of the Laughing, Stealing, Fucking, Looting, Dancing Ex#1.

 

 

 

Photo

Chuckv

July 10th

Uncategorized

Uber Tales 26

Uber Clarity in Clarens

The shadows fall where they should. The mountains, stark, carve the clear blue sky as only bleak, brown, half-burnt, wintery mountains can: “Here wind, take some dust off my topsoil; here water take some of my rock; here fire burn my sides, but next year as you blink, I’ll stand here still.”

So, the blank page stares back at my blank mind again. Once more, who will blink first? The smokes smoked, the words unwritten? I now have an official muse, Jax. I phone her for inspiration: Voicemail. She is playing squash and that idea is quashed and not squashed, as so many people seem to think it is. “I just had my speeding fine squashed by my friend who is a prosecutor,” they used to tell me in the days when these matters still weren’t dealt with ‘lunch money’ on the streets.

Turning favours for friends is not new here or elsewhere and neither are small or big bribes to get out of tight spots, but when your friends park illegally on the whole country and speed off with billions in illegal money and buy you a plot in Dubai, I think one should draw a line. I really do.

I sit at what seems to be an unoccupied house on Bowling Ave, Gallo Manor. A man in his forties was shot in a ‘suspected hijacking’ not far from here today. Bowling Ave used to be a good pickup point, but as Yogi Bear once said: “The future ain’t what it used to be.” The dead man’s future is no more and the market is overtraded with the entry and rapid expansion of Taxify. My earlier successful strategy of sitting under shady trees in leafy suburbs no longer seems to work. Taxify sends you the nearest driver, no matter what your or his rating is. It looks like this:

I have to rethink all of this and more. I need to get out of it in order to get back into it, I tell myself. He agrees. Jax and I go to Clarens. That’s far out. It’s a bustling little tourist town on any weekend, but on Youth Day it makes me feel old with all the hustle. It looks like Taxify on a bad day. Having been out of a relationship for so long and now being in one also need consideration.

I do an experiment. I drive ‘out’ on Beyers Naude first thing in the morning instead of ‘in’ towards Rosebank Gautrain. My reasoning is that driving out while everybody else is going in, I’m sure to get a paid-for trip back in, or better still, a paid-for trip further out.

My experiment works. Instead of doing those pesky 2.5km trips around Rosebank, where one is no longer even assured of getting two of the peskies in an hour these days, I work the outskirts.

In the outskirts, I get strange requests such as transporting a Weber braai; an electricity recharge voucher (which I first have to buy); a flower arrangement; cakes of various shapes and sizes; a six-pack of beers; industrial floor insulation or something that looks like it; a small scuffed box; a book by an unknown author; a used envelope with seemingly nothing inside and what have you else.

Those are my favourite trips.

I don’t have to talk to the objects while smoking in my car and I can have fun imaging why somebody would pay R174 to have a plain white, frequently fingered, envelope transported across town in an Uber? It is stapled closed, not for the first time… Holding it up against the stark winter light from a shady spot, reveals no contents, neither does it bear a name or address. “Shady shit,” I say to myself. I hand it in at a smart hotel in Sandton and get out.

I do do pickups in Sandton CBD these days again. Taxify is forcing my hand, but since the roadworks are mostly complete, the traffic is not so bad. I still do not hang around in Sandton, but I remain online in there while I drive out to Rosebank. Trips are hard to come by once you’re ‘in’.

My muse, Jax, says I should write to get in. She doesn’t say it in so many words, but she puts it out there. I sigh and light a smoke to blow against the blank screen. Zuma must out.

This morning I drive out and get a trip to Keyes Ave. This is almost ‘in’ Rosebank Gautrain. Should I drive in or out? I drive out and get another trip to Keyes Ave. I still find my knack for scoring those little ‘doubles’ uncanny, but the same question remains: In or out? I drive out again and get a trip to Rosebank Gautrain. I wonder if it’s a sign? I shake my head violently to expel the superstitious nonsense.

The signs are there for all to see: The world is fixing for a fight. The ‘Black Hand’ that killed the stupid Franz Ferdinand is called ‘terrorism’ now. Now, before you get your tits or whatever else in a knot, just go and read your history, stupid. Yes, history tells its own story of weak leaders needing a good fight to prove that they can ‘lead’ the world out of recession or depression into something worse. We’ve got plenty of weak and ignorant ‘leaders’ wanting that same thing right now. They must all be forced out. But enough of all the in and out stuff.

I think of these and other things as I sit on the back stoep of the Ko-operasie in Clarens of which I can heartily recommend the traditional dish of ‘skilpadjies’ (lamb liver in netvet). I see the shadows fall across the mountains carving into the clear blue skies, the yellow poplars reaching up into the same and it all becomes clear to me. “Clarity in Clarens,” I tell Jax. “You should write about it,” says my muse. “Yes,” I say, “It has become clear to me that I should be where I am, no matter where it is.” I lean over and kiss her.

Photo

Chuckv

June 22nd

Uncategorized
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