Uber Tales (4)

Uber Camouflage

It is interesting I think I hear him say. I have lost interest in that way while fumbling for something. I fumble often to get away. Now I hear him say: “It is interesting.” “What again?”

I’m now convinced I’m no longer a quark. I can no longer be measured in more than one place at a time. WYSIWYG. I am where I am where and when you see me. Clear like being happily drunk with friends.

“What was interesting? I thought, I heard when you said?” “That you are no longer a quark.” “There’s a portrait of me in the adjoining room, so I might be there too, but no, I’m sitting here talking to you.” He gets up and goes to have a look.

“It’s really you!” “No,” I say.

We converse further.

“A mensch, or at least a wannabe one, I would say. That’s what I want to be. I’m harsh on stupid and stupid is the defining quality defining humanity. Just ask Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Jacob Zuma, Bob Mugabe and their ilk, and they will all tell you: “We trade on stupid and we win all the fucking time. Just check your local news outlet. We win.” “What were we talking about again?”

The young guy from Guernsey is not easily flummoxed. They’ve never been part of anything, let alone the EU or even UK. They were into the ‘pay as you go’ for protection before the PAYE system was invented. Fucking clever buggers and not readily flummoxed. I should know. Flummoxing has been my wear against the tear of life.

The beautiful Indian girl Megan rattles my cage about love. She wants me to give it another shot. She’s 22 and she caught me out. She knows I want it. I have nowhere to hide. “I’m too selfish,” I try to camouflage my want. She is having none of it. I drop her off and am so rattled that I forget to end the trip. Maybe I didn’t want that trip to end. She befriends me on Facebook and I apologise for my failure. She forgives me.

The beautiful black girl Reabetswe reads the article about me in Beeld. “Don’t tell me you read Afrikaans?” “I was very good at Afrikaans at school,” she smiles white at me. Her spectacles wink a blink. When it’s time to drop her off, she asks if she may finish reading the article. I fall in love. We chat some more after her reading. Then she exclaims: “Oh shit! There are people locked into my flat and I have clean forgotten about them.” She flashes a last smile smile over her shoulder as she disappears from sight.


I’m on a permanent roadtrip. This time without beers or bars, but I’m still loving it. I pick up strangers and they pay for the privilege of driving with a famous Uber driver. They know I’m famous because I force them to look at the newspaper article about me.


I offer them water, Grandpa headache powder, Strepsil throat lozenges, toffees and Wi-Fi. They’re impressed by all of that, but free to decline the offers. The newspaper is compulsory, be they white, black, Chinese, Nigerian, Japanese, Muslim, Christian, atheist or whatever. If they can’t read Afrikaans, I tell them to just look at the pictures. They’re invariably impressed. Oh humanity. I smile and shake my head.

My Tourette’s shoulder jerks up. When my Tourette’s elbow jerks the steering wheel and my passenger notices, I say ‘pothole’ and look straight ahead. I’ve made peace with my Tourette’s thanks to the Sativa strain of marijuana. I previously disliked smoking dope because it accentuated my self-doubt instead of alleviating it. The Sativa has changed all of that and my life. Instead of bringing out all of my insecurities, it allows me to face them and out them. I’m liberated.

That’s what I finally tell the lovely Megan. I may finally be capable of loving because I’m no longer in total undercover warfare with myself. I’m no longer absent when present.

The only place I still need camouflage is the Park Gautrain station where my white hat and skin did not fool the metered taxi buffoons. They jabbed my face with angry fingers, shouting abuse. I have removed the telltale second disk from my windscreen, but they still spotted me. Then I remembered the luminous Vodacom work jacket. I wear that to Park station and it works a charm. Uber camouflage, if you want. I also removed the little car freshener hanging from the rearview mirror.

The metered taxi guys are angry because they cannot join Uber due to them having criminal records, reliable sources tell. They’re in a corner they cannot escape. The poor rats.

4 Responses to “Uber Tales (4)”

  • JP Nel says:

    Hallo Charles! Het die Beeld-artikel gelees en toe jou spoegblok (blykbaar Afrikaans vir ‘blog’) hier opgespoor. Strength to you my brother, dis darem ‘n groot ding wat jy doen en laat daardie taxi’s lesopse. Jou posts is baie spitsvondig – kan ek hoop dat jy op ‘n kol oor ons stille verset tydens diensplig daar in die donker dae van Apartheid gaan skryf? Groetnis, JP (Nel)

  • Gertina vd Merwe says:

    Hi Charles, Voordat ek van jou in die koerant gelees het, het Danie Crowther jou deur jou Paris essays aan my voorgestel. Ek het dit lekker gevind en geniet ook jou meer resente skrywes. Hoop my ondersteuning sal ju punte verhoog – ek simaar dom met tegnologie so ek weet nie altyd watter knoppies om te druk nie, Groete en sterkte.

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