Uber Tales (5)

Come Into My Car

I wake up. It is dark still. I’m keen to begin the day. Where will I begin? Where shall I end up? Who knows what the day will bring?

We stop the overcrowded grey Combi 1600 at Uncle Charlie’s as we always do. We’re on our way to Reitz in the Free State to Ouma and Oupa Pottie’s farm Meriba, meaning ‘sweet water’. At Uncle Charlie’s we each get a hotdog. It’s the best thing I’ve ever eaten. My dream as a nine-year old is to one day be so rich I’d be able to eat all the Uncle Charlie’s hotdogs in the world.

I set out for Jorrie’s Shell garage on Portland Road, Hursthill. I do so every morning to fill up, but seldom reach it. The call comes from Makgotso as I leave my driveway. She’s on Second Avenue, Randburg. It’s vague. She’s close by, but is she on 2nd Melville or 2nd Westdene. Jessica also seems a bit perplexed and then decides in Melville’s favour. A decision she immediately changes as I turn that way. I curse her and make a U-turn. Jessica is allergic to U-turns and keeps her counsel to herself for a while. She repents and gives me direction anew. We’re good that way. I tell my guests she’s my wife. I need her. I’d be lost without her. They think that is funny. They mostly think I’m funny. I like to make them laugh.

Chuck in Car

Thanks to Oscar Guiterrez for the great pic.

It’s most likely that Makgotso would be heading to the Park Station Gautrain. I sigh. I hate that place and the aggressive metered taxi criminals who hold court there. It seems they’ve won that turf for the nonce. They will lose it eventually, but for now I’m wary to go there. I’ve informed Uber that I’d still do drop-offs there, but no pickups. It becomes nerve-racking when you and your pickup are equally shit scared. This means the pickup moves about to be inconspicuous and you have to phone several times to establish her whereabouts while hostile taxi drivers bang on your car. I’m too old for that shit.

Makgotso is an actress. She plays a bit part in the local soap, Isidingo (The Need). She’s going to her studio. I’m relieved that it’s not Gautrain. It’s a chunky trip to boot. I like to start my day with a chunky trip. She takes the water I offer her, remarking that it will go well with the Strepsil she has already helped herself to. She likes my service, she says. The best ever, she says. She whoops with delight when I tell her I have Wi-Fi too. She’s playing videos, probably takes from her previous shoot by the sound of it. I offer her my Bluetooth speaker. She declines, but tells me she’s impressed I even have that.

My father is in hospital with pneumonia. A serious thing for a man of his age. I think of him while eating my hotdog from BP’s Wild Bean Café. I always think of him and the grey VW Combi at Uncle Charlie’s on the way to the Free State when I eat those hotdogs. I can now eat as many of them as I want. I phone my father and thank him for all he and my mother did for me. I choke up. I should have done this a long time ago and much more often. I tell him to cut me some slack and not die just yet. I can’t afford to go to any funerals in Cape Town. “Just give me couple of months,” I tell him. He laughs croakily.

We are arriving at Makgotso’s drop-off point. I ask her for directions for the last couple of hundred metres because Jessica can be a bit dodgy concerning the exact spot. I make small-talk while cruising to the entrance she wants. “So what role do you play?” “I play Kum.” I hear ‘cum’. “Oh good, then I can tell my other guests that I’ve had Kum in my car.” She bursts out laughing. I like that. We greet and I remind her that a comment is my friend. My father is on the mend. All is well in Chuck’s almost Panglossian world.


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