Uber Tales (8)

Uber Hope

The news is uniformly bad. The world is tearing itself apart. I call it GLOBAL 1 and it is coming to a shopping mall near you soon. Locally the thieves and liars are going about their business like it’s nobody’s business and as if they expect to lose some big chunks of the troughs they’re feeding from. Better eat while the eating is still good or something like that. While they’re going at the trough, the people likely to vote for them are going crazy in the streets of your nearest squatter camp as if to emulate their leaders, at least when it comes to looting. There’s a beggar at every traffic light and it’s not a pretty sight. Some try to be funny, but it isn’t funny.

Looking at things from that perspective isn’t very uplifting. The spirit is unlikely to soar like an eagle, but rather teeter like a hadeda fledgling on the edge of its messy nest until it falls to the ground where it would walk around dazed and confused for days. That’s depressing in its own way.

So, yeah, it’s easy to be depressed these days. It was probably easy to be depressed in all ages, but these days all the bad news is so much in your face that there’s hardly any escape from it all. Escape then, if you will, into my Uber car.

We pick up Nomvula, Ntabiseng, Sibahle or Mantesehlo or any of their like. They constitute about 95% of my guests. They are young, black, professional women. They’re well-spoken and well-heeled. They’re witty and funny even. They laugh at my jokes. They’re going places. They’re soaring like eagles. I love them for restoring my faith in the future of this country.

Chuck in Car

The Uber Hope-Mobile

Now, meet Babongile (22) and his partner Bongani (24). We pick them up at The Zone, Rosebank. They’re dressed as if they’re coming from a GQ fashion shoot. Two black gays, we guess at them. We’re wrong. Two young businessmen going to Eskom’s Megawatt Park HQ to pitch a facility management App they’ve developed. They got the idea while cleaning toilets. No, not while running an office park toilet cleaning operation. Cleaning toilets themselves. “We were bootstrapping ourselves,” Babongile says. “We noticed loose wires and broken tiles everywhere in the places we cleaned and we developed an App to bring facilities management from the Age of the Dinosaur into the 21st Century.”

“I’m getting goosebumps,” I say to their positive energy. They say the same about how I’m going about my business. It’s a veritable ‘feel good fest’. “#FeelTheGoodness,” I tell them when I drop them off. “I’m going to quote you on that,” says Babongile.

Now there’s Rosemary. She’s a 40-something and she has just come from lunch at The Local Grill in Parktown North. She’s happy and relaxed. It was a good lunch. She tells me she’s a farmer in the Free State, just outside the little town of Tweeling. I express my surprise. “A female farmer is not something one comes across every day,” I say. “And a black one even less,” she ventures. “I didn’t want to bring race into it.” “Oh Chuck. This is South Africa. Race comes into everything.” We laugh knowingly. “I like you Afrikaans people. It’s you who’ve given me the leg-up that brought me where I am today. You’re real.” “I’m going to quote you on that,” I say and we laugh again. Uber is a hope factory.


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