Taxi Drivers and Your Secrets

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Petronella Sibeene If there is anything a taxi driver loathes is the aftermath of this festive season when almost everyone that uses taxis to go to work or conduct their daily business will be haggling for a discount because all the money was spent on the celebrations. Others, especially the youngsters will even have the audacity to jam-pack the whole car (of course raising the hopes of the cabbie) and once having arrived safely at their destination burst out of the car and scamper in all directions leaving the poor fellow gaping. The owner of the taxi will not understand such a story! This goes to show how little appreciation people have for the cabbies who don’t really give a damn who jumps on – the cab-criminal or pastor. Year in, year out, they are the silent listeners and witnesses to whatever happens with their customers. Now the year is coming to an end and if we were to put ourselves in the feet of taxi drivers, what would we be thinking of for the coming year and how would you describe the past year? For many who make – or once made use – of taxis, you will agree that these people despite all the crazy things they do on the road, actually know more about the town roads they operate on. Imagine how many stories and secrets you have shared with a friend seated next to you at the back of a taxi while this person is driving? How many things you have said about other people without considering that this driver might know whom you are talking about? What about all the appointments and lies you have told your loved one such as you are going to Katutura hospital to visit a sick friend while you boarded a taxi citing Pionierspark as your destination? We can call them crooked, without respect and full of crude manners but believe me, they have done you many favours than you thought. Apart from keeping your secrets, whenever you need to get to work or get to the office, go shopping or attend the cinema (because the children insist on it) then transport is essential and the taxi man is always there. They provide the transport though at a cost for you to get to different places. We have complained of their dirtiness and still whenever we need to go somewhere we just go outside and flag one down without giving it a second thought. It can be quite frustrating though trying to catch one: not that there are none available but the drivers have a strange way of picking up punters. The strangest thing is that if you are not going in his direction or to where he wants to go, then he will not pick you up. Amazing but true! Taxi drivers are very obstinate. Also on the contrary, they (taxi drivers) have that desire to socialize though sometimes what was intended to be an informal and friendly conversation can turn into the opposite. Just start off a conversation by saying something stupid like, “hot day today” as if Namibia is any different from one day to the next. He will invariably turn the conversation around to asking about football and Liverpool or he will turn to the state of the economy. “No profit in taxi driving anymore, no customers and cars cost more to buy than ever before.” This should keep you going till you get to your final destination. Weird! When you talk to a taxi man, you should be careful or you might say something that would make him become aggressive. One sensitive topic involves soccer, especially if you support different teams. He will spend more time trying to clamber over the rear of his seat, to reinforce his opinion than looking where he is going. Surely you do not want to pay to be harassed! Yes, they have been involved in so many cases. They rape, they kill and others simply steal from their customers. On the other side, they also get harassed by traffic officers and have also in some instances been given the taste of their medicines though they appear to be more streetwise than the ordinary man. The latest case involves a Windhoek taxi driver who was robbed of his cash (N$300) for the day, but as said earlier, they are more awake than you, so he managed to shoot the “thief” though he did not aim to end the life of this customer. What I am trying to say is that we live in a world of interdependency. For those who do not own a car, we need taxi operators in as much as they need our money. Hope next year you will treat these members of society with respect and vice-versa … Eewa!

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