Taxi Tales: The Conductor’s Class
By David Tumusiime, Uganda:
I was in the taxi with the driver, the conductor and another passenger. I was very uncomfortable. One minute the taxi had been full and the next, when I looked up from my Kindle reader, we were only three left.
The passenger was especially chatty with the conductor and the driver, and I listened to learn if I was in a genuine Kampala taxi or with cutthroats after my gadgets. Trying to decide what to do, I could no longer concentrate on The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy.
The driver was teasing the conductor, “How long do you think you will keep thanking every passenger for paying? Do you think you're a charity organisation receiving gratitude when the passengers pay? You have to leave the village in the village. You're now in Kampala.”
The conductor mumbled, still counting the trip's taking. The other 'passenger' defended the conductor, “I think he did well. At least he wasn't cheated. The only mistake he made was actually returning the correct 'balance' to some of the more clueless passengers.”
The driver roared, “He did what?” The 'passenger' chuckled, “You have to teach him to how to read those people who don't mind paying more than others in taxis. In fact they feel flattered when we take more money from them than we have taken from the rest of the passengers.”
The driver groaned, “I've been trying to convince him to give up those tin-wire spectacles since he came but he has refused! He thinks passengers will feel more distinguished if they feel they are being served by an intellectual.”
The 'passenger' guffawed, “Do you have a book stashed away in this taxi? Spects go with books. Where is your book?” The conductor spoke up for himself, “I don't just have a book. It is a book about how to make more money by a man who was once a taxi driver! He is now a billionaire.”
The driver and the 'passenger' both laughed and the 'passenger quipped, “Then, especially then, if you want to be rich, better learn how to be a thief. I hope your book does not leave that part out.”
I saw the driver looking at me through his rear view mirror. I coughed and laughed nervously.