The daily taxi war.
Before everyone comes after me with pitchforks and burning torches, I would just like to put a little disclaimer out there. In this article, I am not condoning illegal or unroadworthy vehicles – which put the lives of others in danger. This includes overloading, or driving in a manner that can cause harm to others.
So here goes…
It is a daily part of the average South African’s life, especially those who commute via a motor vehicle. It is a battle which we all inevitably lose and one which we probably all need to let go of, I am talking about the fight against the South African taxi driver. Whether it’s big or small, seats 6 people or 15, the issue is less with the car but rather the driver. A taxi driver is a taxi driver. More often than not, this person plays by his rules and the rules of his fraternity. Whatever those rules are however, the role of a taxi in South Africa is crucial.
This form of transport plays a massive role in our economy, transporting many people to and from work on a daily basis. South Africa needs them as much as they may annoy us, and I’m sure that many reading this article experience this annoyance on a daily basis.
These annoyances can range from taxi drivers cutting in front of your vehicle, or stopping in the lane to make pick ups or drop offs – causing havoc for the vehicles behind. Using the emergency lane, to the classic “turning off the road, cutting across opposite traffic and turning back onto the road” at an intersection, to gain a jump on those stuck at a red light. We have all been in a similar situation and it drives us crazy, often resulting in shouting, cursing or worse.
There is one solution, and while it won’t completely alleviate the problem, it will help to reduce our own personal road rage and stress levels.The solution is to make peace with South African taxis. Does that mean no shouting, arguing, hand gesturing or even fighting every time a taxi does something even remotely annoying? Yes. Why you may ask? Well it is relatively simple.
You see, no matter how big your tantrum is, how many expletives you utter, or how many times you roll down your window and use a range of hand gestures, you are only ruining one person’s day, yours.
Do you really think a taxi driver cares about your abuse? They don’t, they couldn’t give a hoot (pun intended). They get told off by everyone on a daily basis and the fact is, no matter how many road users give them abuse, they are never going to change. At the end of the day, they also have families to feed and need run hectically tight schedules to try and make money. Ask yourself this question, how crazy would you drive to feed your children? Of course, putting anyone’s life in danger is never justifiable, but we will never understand what goes on in the life of a taxi driver, unless we’ve lived that life. Your anger, fists or bullets isn’t worth you risking your life in an altercation. Is it?
So as much as it sucks to take it on the chin, ignore it and let it happen. Half the time the offence committed against us is not worth the outburst. Is that taxi trying to cut in front while you are late for work? Don’t fight it. Driving down the emergency lane and you feel like swerving to stop him? Don’t bother. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your daily commute because in the long run, one or a thousand motorists hurling abuse and getting stressed is never going to change a thing. Pray that when the offence is being committed, the police do what they’re paid to do. After living and driving in South Africa for 4 years from the U.K, I’ve gone through the various stages of grief, battling this daily war with taxis and I respect every motorist enduring the same fight. Quite recently I have tried this care-free approach as I face Durban’s Umgeni road on a daily basis. The result? I look five years younger already.
Also published on Medium.