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.

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June 22nd


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