Uber Tales (19)

Uber December

It’s dead quiet. The eternal waiting is killing me. It makes me panic about money and stuff. I must make a plan. I play serendipity dice: If I make it home from where I’m sitting right now without getting a call, I should rather work on my book. Am I writing a book? If I do a pick-up in Joburg CBD, it would be a good one. I never do pick-ups in CBDs. Not Sandton, not Joburg, not Pretoria. There are some other areas too, but definitely not those three. The reason is simple. Pick-ups there are usually short trips in heavy traffic. They kill my feet.

I pick up Cee in Sandton on Christmas Eve. She had to cut short her holiday in Plett to attend to a ‘major family crisis’ at home in Botswana. She is a beautiful woman dressed accordingly. I toy with the idea of asking about the nature of the major family crisis. I don’t. I’m her maiden Uber trip.

I head home again. I get a trip to the airport. Not a bad thing on a quiet day. A very good thing indeed and I’ve got another one booked with my friend Jeanne and her dogs. I play serendipity dice straight from the airport, heading home through the suburbs, not on the highway. I’m 13km out when I get a call from one Jay. I pick him up, but it’s not him. It’s his father Bee. Bee likes me and retains my services for an hour and a half and six trips. It’s like a trip to the airport except that it leaves me close to Jeanne when it finally ends. The dice are falling right.

my-kind-of-street

Waiting is like watching trees grow…

The dice can fall wrong too. I pick up Bongani in the Joburg CBD. It’s a minimum fare short cash trip. It’s he worst kind. First, you have to find the fucker. A lot of Uber users think it’s best to look for their Ubers by standing behind a pillar with their backs to the street looking at their phones. I finally find Bongani behind his pillar and he takes me to Wanderers Street. That’s about as bad as it gets. The minibus taxis are flowing like a whitewater river in flood. It’s scary. I stop playing serendipity dice in the CBD. The odds are stacked against anything serendipitous happening there.

It gets even quieter. I get home and work on the book. I’ll probably get no income from that either but it keeps me from panicking about money and shit. I take a day off and make good progress. I hit the road again. My car’s battery is flat. My phone’s battery won’t charge and the garage door is fucked. I sigh and take another day off. This time I just drink and make merry with my sister Hesté. The dice have spoken. I’m feeling like Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem:

Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee; 

Not untwist — slack they may be — these last strands of man 

In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can; 

Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be. 

I get the phone to charge, I start my car and Hesté and I manhandle the door. My first trip is to the airport. I play serendipity dice with a twist from Barbara Road 24km out through the suburbs. It’s sort of adaptation of my normal strategy of sitting under shady trees waiting for 15 minutes and driving 3km. This time I just stop for a smoke and drive the 3km. It doesn’t feel like waiting.

I smoke in Sebenza, which translates into ‘work’. I smoke in Hurleyvale. I smoke in Edenvale where I notice that despite the city seemingly being empty of humans, Home Affairs still managed to conjure up a long queue of the same outside their offices. I smoke in Senderwood, Glenhazel or Bedford Gardens and finally Norwood. Then I come home to work on my book.

I drop off Cee and help her with her luggage. She is very happy that her maiden Uber trip was with me, she tells me. I wish her luck with her family crisis. That’s always odd for me to wish somebody luck with a crisis or painful situation. I find the Afrikaans ‘sterkte’ or French ‘courage’ much better. Fortunately Cee is Afrikaans so I don’t have to deal with the odd ‘luck’. She thanks me and gives me a R100 tip. I take it. I’ll take any money now. I drive off and wonder whether I should’ve asked her about the nature of her ‘major family crisis’. Probably not, I think as I play serendipity dice anew.

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Chuckv

December 29th


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