Dear Joburg Drivers
Let’s have a quick chat.
I’m gravely concerned you are an angry bunch and you carry that toxic negativity from the road to your family or your colleagues, and sometimes you keep that rage on the road and get people hurt.
It’s not working. Really, it’s not.
If you accepted certain things; I promise you, life might seem a little brighter.
Let me start by telling you a little bit about me:
I love traffic. It is the time that I use to think, process my heart and mind, plan my next steps, think about what’s for dinner, what’s my excuse for being late (which I almost always am), plan my preamble for a presentation, write briefs in my head, talk myself through a difficult call I’ll make, day dream about my next holiday, and all the other warm and fuzzy stuff.
Obviously I’ve mastered this enough not to be distracted on the road…
I also watch other people in their cars, make up stories or conversations they may be having, I try and block out the image of the guy picking his nose in earnest, I look at how dirty or clean cars are, imagine what the blonde in her Mini is singing along to.
All this is done in the silence of my 1995 Honda Ballade; a gracious gift from my father a few years ago.
Bokomo, as I call her, is on her last year alive, and I love being in her. I even love how she makes sounds that I can no longer guess, I love that the radio stopped working (I input the wrong security code a few too many times), the drivers side window doesn’t open, which totally helps with the robot hawkers, I love that she has my whole life somewhere in her – from books to shoes, five different types of lipgloss, moisturisers, glasses, sunglasses (most of which don’t belong to me) and most recently I have cushions and posters in the boot. Anywhoo. The point is, me and Bokomo have a great time together, even when she freaks me out by sometimes deciding not to move in the middle of the highway, we have amazing conversations about the crazies we see on the road.
Here are some of the things we’ve noted and want to give you, dear Joburg driver, a talking to about
On being late:
Leave a little earlier. There’s almost nowhere in Joburg that doesn’t require you to be in the car for less than thirty minutes to get to. So, by the time you get into your vehicle, you know whether or not you’ll make it. So stop getting angry at the the old lady in front of you who decided to stop at an amber traffic light, that extra minute isn’t going to make a whole lot of difference in your state of being late. Leave a little or a lot earlier, and you’ll have time to put on your lipstick, or check if your gel plastered hair is at the right angle when you get to your destination.
And on that note, can you stop eating your cereal, putting on your make up or getting dressed while you’re driving, It’s really creepy looking into my rear view mirror and wondering if you can see that I’ve stopped.
There are two things here. One, they happen, for whatever reason (and you may be part of the cause) they will happen. For as long as you drive like a lunatic, go through red lights, show no courtesy, get aggressive, be selfish and inconsiderate, accidents will happen. They will happen because someone was distracted, because someone was going too fast, because someone’s break lights weren’t working, because the road was a little slippery, for many unknown reasons, accidents will happen. There is no need to rubber neck and slow the rest of traffic down because of your curiosity and tut tut head-shaking, because before you know it, you’ll have bumped into the guy in front of you and look, there’s another lane closed.
The other thing about accidents, avoid them. Avoid them by being courteous and using basic skills at traffic circles, and four way stops at yields, everywhere. Be courteous. Avoid them by accepting that you will be late. Avoid them by calming the fuck down.
Oh my dear Joburg driver, the sooner you accept that you are merely loaning a stretch of road from taxi’s, your life will be so much simpler. It is their road. You are nothing in your Maserati or beetle bug but someone in their way. Accept that the driver of the taxi may just stop in front of you and force you to either wait or change lanes. You hooting is not going to change this. Your fantastically colourful vocabulary is not going to change this. the gesticulating and saliva slinging profanity is not going to change this. Taxi’s own the road, and you mere mortal are nothing but a tax payer borrowing a few metres at a time. Get over it. And sometimes, more often than not, there’s someone in that taxi who does not know where they are going and has forced the driver (who is the kind of customer service focused person we all need) to pull some rather impressive Fast and Furious moves to please said customer.
Yes, yes, You’re trying to get to work, but that driver’s working; getting other people to work too. Or to the manicurist or to lunch, or whatever.
Okay, so maybe the ‘calm the fuck down’ approach isn’t working.
Let’s look at it differently shall we?
A taxi with about 14 or 15 passengers has just pushed in front of you. No, it’s not the end of the world. Imagine for a moment that each one of those people were in separate cars, each one of them in front of you. Not getting to where you’re going any time soon are you?
Let’s look at it another way
How is your colleague, your house keeper, the lady at the till point at your Woolies, your next door neighbour’s kid, your kid’s teacher, your absolutely everyone meant to get to work? By taxi, that’s how.
Where is said taxi supposed to pick that person up – on the street. Where is that taxi supposed to drop them off? Short left, after robot, short right. That’s where.
Does this make you unhappy? Well then you should write to your municipality to build a taxi stop every 100 meters or so. Problem solved. Now the nurse from Milpark hospital gets to get off the taxi, at a taxi stop that’s not km’s away from her home, and she doesn’t have to walk in the dark alone for a long unsafe time. Now you don’t have to have a temper tantrum because the taxi will have somewhere, out of your way, to stop.
Dear Joburg driver
Calm the fuck down
It is what it is. It doesn’t have to ruin your day.
Sorry that you don’t have a mountain or an ocean to look at while you’re stuck behind the old man in a renault that’s older than your house, and rolling back, but you do have the greenest skyline, and through those trees, sometimes you get a glimpse of Ponte towers, Sandton city or even the painfully brilliant sun set only Joburg offers.