The midnight drunk taxi
The Kampala taxi is basically a car pool for people coming from the same location but it is a rickety mini van with no schedule and it only moves when the last seat is filled. This is our cheapest and main form of public transportation.
For the love of free Wi-Fi at the hangout or office and lack of a car i often find myself late to board a taxi home but thank God for the mid night drunk taxi run by the hardest working of taxi touts, conductors(often missing) and drivers(often drunk drivers). This taxi has saved a life. For those nights when one is too tired to the core from doing an office assignment till late to those nights when highly inebriated mid week and have to rush home to catch the required 8 hours sleep, to those nights when you are short of cash to get an Uber or bodaboda because on impulse you bought those jeans you always thought of as you passed through the over zealous hawkers downtown or to those nights you stupidly bought that extra round of drinks for your friends at the bar and you ran out of cash.
So you take this irksome kampala public transportation, the midnight taxi.
But the midnight taxi has its drama and tribulations. First there is that very impatient passenger who is restless and seems to have a choice of boarding a bodaboda or hailing an Uber anytime incase of a one minute delay yet many of us onboard are just glad this taxi is still here and we got in before it left at its usual time as it runs on a non existent schedule. We don’t mind if it leaves at 1a.m or 3a.m, we shall get home at the end. After all many of us won’t be asleep till 2am.
Then there is the drunk passengers. These ones are the main reason for the title. The taxi is filled with them. They are moving from the expensive city bar to the neighborhood Kafunda. They could afford taking a bodaboda but they did the math and found out that if they took the taxi, that would be an extra beer saved at the duuka shop. These will sit back and chill till the taxi moves. Gladly.
But there is the other drunk commuter who has imbibed enough to guarantee him same effects even when he reaches the neighborhood and he will not hesitate to let everyone in the taxi know how intoxicated he is. He will hit on the only woman in the taxi, he will insult the driver all the way with many futile attempts of him taking over the wheel( lord!) and he will also at a certain point mid journey attempt to alight the taxi as it is moving because the driver won’t tune the FM stereo to his favourite channel.
The other of the everyday annoying late night commuters is the office gentleman(not me) who when it is a passenger or two left to get the taxi fully occupied, he will offer to pay for the two seats so we can set off immediately but the conductor and driver will not cave because this does not make sense to them although it does to all the passengers and its mind boggling. I mean don’t these city service guys want to sleep, you are saving time. Come on.
But i later get to learn that this is a humanitarian act in ugandan public transport for everyone who desperately needs to catch the midnight taxi not to be disappointed as they are sprinting out of breath to catch the last ride available. This is not the London bus after all. And it is also a fuck you to the stingy lugezigezi gentleman or lady who could jump a bodaboda or hail an Uber but decided to save a buck and take the taxi.
Normally the taxi won’t move till it is filled to capacity but on those rare occasions when the driver is too tired or has something to look forward to at home we shall move even with half capacity. This is so because the midnight taxi is making its final journey of the day and that is to where the driver stays too.
During the wait for other passengers the city is not short of hawkers even at this devilish hour of the night. The difference is items hawked at this time are way different from those hawked at day time. Interesting huh!
It is like hawking turns from PG13 to full on X-rated.
From porn DVDs to sexual prowess enhancement powders. As you are slightly nodding off a heavily clad hawker will knock on your window and lay a basketful of mulondo, nuts, local sexual herbs, bum and hips enlargement concoctions, and also willing to give you contacts of a doctor who can bring back a lost lover.
In my sleepy haze and the fact that am heading back to an empty bed I try to think of which lost lover I would want brought back but in vain. With a cheeky smirk on his face the hawker knows when to leave a hopeless client alone or summon his colleague with the porn DVDs for a potential client.
But despite the chaos, trials, the patience tested to the limits, the drama, the midnight drunk taxi still gets its passengers home safe at the end of the night.