There I was, biting my nails in a queue so long that I decided to pass time by listening to music through my earphones. I estimated that it would take the arrival of at least three 15-seater minibus taxis before I would be in a position to count how many people were standing before me. The twenty-five-to-seven bus to Sandton had just left so there was still some hope of leaving the Bara taxi-rank by seven the latest, otherwise I would know for certain I would be late.
I prayed that should I indeed leave on the top of the hour, I’d be fortunate enough to get a driver that obeyed all the Monday-morning traffic rules, namely: not go via the filling station either to fill-up or inflate his wheels and crucially, to always use the emergency lane.
Just as I was sweating with panic, two of those small buses that are almost twice the size of a taxi arrived along with the mini busses. Within a minute they had swallowed a significant portion of the queue, leaving just thirteen people in front of me. That played right into my hands because I was sure to be going with the arrival of the next taxi, be it a 14-seater Quantum or a 15-seater Hi Ace. I preferred the former for comfort and speed.
I fixed my eyes on a couple of vendors roaming around. With a last written warning for the abuse of sick-leave, late coming and absenteeism, I was flirting with joining them soon. A guy in front of me whistled for one to come over so he could buy a handful of sweets. He smelled like he’d left the club or tavern in the early hours of that morning. Sad, I thought, that if a taxi didn’t get there soon enough I’d be lumped with the likes of him, people who partied their Sunday night away. Of course in three of the five occasions on which I had been absent – whether I had produced a doctor’s note or not, curiously on Mondays or right after payday, alcohol had been the reason.
Though the company had not been able to prove this beyond reasonable doubt, the shoe did fit.
On that Monday though, I was sober. I had last had beer the Friday prior. A thought of inviting him over to buy airtime and call, notifying the company I would be running late crossed my mind but I hung on. I was going to plead traffic as the reason. If they would have had the nerve to fire me over something I could not control, I would appeal. Simon, my friend, had won his case after being dismissed following a last written warning.
The fourteen-seater taxi pulled in at four minutes to seven, giving me a whole hour to get to Fourways. Traffic might have been chockablock already but I trusted the driver, whom I’d travelled with a thousand times before. I wished he hadn’t distracted the queue marshal though because in the pushing and shoving, the girl who’d been standing behind me pushed her way in, leaving me out. My attempts at getting her to disembark fell on deaf ears as the queue marshal was having none of my nonsense – not against a woman of all people.
As for the girl who had pushed her way ahead of me; that bitch with brown dreadlocks, I had given her a piece of my mind.
“Fuck you,” I said when she smiled smugly and showed me the middle finger. “I wish this taxi capsizes and you die you selfish heifer,” I finished off.
The next taxi to arrive did so fifteen minutes later. I had resigned myself to whatever my boss would decide. I’d called and he’d had the courtesy to inform me that should I be late, there would be a disciplinary hearing during which my future in the company would be discussed. I’d fight but if they let me go, I told myself, I’d live. The vendor who had sold me airtime was leaving and so would I.
Traffic was not as bad as I had thought it would be though. I had forgotten, it turned out, that schools had been closed. I made it to work right on time. No need for that hearing with which I had been threatened. I would have been a few minutes earlier in fact, had it not been for the accident on the freeway. A taxi had capsized and there had been one fatality.
We drove past it as the paramedics were covering the body with a white cloth. I recognised the Quantum taxi. But it was the passenger whose memory haunted me. She had brown dreadlocks.
Tell us: Have you ever said something to someone in anger and it came to be? What had happened and what did you say to them?