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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