Taxi Tales: Paranoia
By David Tumusiime, Uganda:
Robbers are about these days. More than in the past, even. Call it the increasing unemployment of many youth rendered jobless by Jennifer Musisi's KCCA edicts that saw the vendors off the streets. Then more of them banned from operating within the taxi parks. Robbery is more rampant now and not even the taxis have survived this wave.
Some of you might cynically argue that, “But those taxi guys are already thieves! They don't want competition!” Well, actually they don't. Neither do the passengers who use them appreciate being robbed-twice. So taxi passengers are far, far more paranoid than ever. I thought this paranoia had not got to me but I was wrong.
It was not until I found myself in a taxi, 11:00pm after work, that I caught myself peering through the corner of my eye at my fellow passengers. You see, I thoughtlessly entered this taxi that screeched infront of me because I was too busy fiddling with my earphones to take note. Carelessly, I let the conductor hurry me into jumping inside, “Ssebo, time is money. We go. Put some spirit in your walk.”
We were already on our way when I realised that we were only six passengers in the taxi. Sure, there was a woman but the way she was huddling as far as possible from the conductor in her corner did not inspire confidence that this was a “real” taxi. The guy seated behind me looked like he was a Nakivuubo Mews cement sack carrier. The way he kept leaning his enormous arms on the back of my seat made me lean against the window. Just in case.
There were two guys in the back seat that sounded drunk and were speaking a form of ghetto English I could not make head or tail of. Except that it had something to do with either cheating someone or a deal gone sour. There were a lot of “kasabudo” words flung about and I promised myself if the need arose, I would plead I knew Bobi Wine.
There were two guys at the front with the driver but they might as well not have been there. They were as silent as the gaping shell where the taxi radio used to be. With a driver who, I swear, kept on eyeing me through his rear view mirror.What else could he have been looking at? There was no traffic.
It did not matter where I was going. When the woman asked to get off, I followed. To my surprise, they let me get out too. Maybe I had been wrong?