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The Bus Ride Part 1: Get In, Sit Down And Shut Up

The vendors block my path as I try to hop onto the bus. Somehow I look hungry and need a pie, maybe thirsty as they offer bottled water.

The language is colourful as they advertise their wares. Cool time, which is a frozen drink in a little plastic, apparently brings families together-something I’ve never heard of.

The maize cob apparently is a pimped one with a Nandos bone wedged inside. And the water- and this is the variety I swear I see in shops everyday - somehow can wash away your sins. I calmly spurn their advances and find a seat at the back of the bus.

I whip out my phone and get into the constitutional Facebook update. My phone is a middle of the road type - not too cheap, not too expensive but in a bus it is Ivy league.

What with blessees’ and their cracked Samsungs courtesy of blessers (who have long left and are spreading their gospel and baptism the other side of the world) and the type that don’t have touch screens I really am top of the pile or thereabout.

I lose myself on Facebook trying to pretend how great it is to ride on a bus and how much fun I will have when I arrive - basically the usual vanity that came with instructions from the Facebook manual.

You know stuff like eating sushi and prawns, pictures of the last trip to South Africa (its usually South Africa - you just can’t do Msanzi without your Facebook friends knowing), how great your sister is and how much you love your family.

After a while the bus stalls and we are stuck in the middle of somewhere- well we were not far from the Tropic of Capricorn so I wouldn’t call it middle of nowhere.

We start shouting and abusing a bewildered conductor who promptly shouts back at us and chaos ensues.

Somebody suggests we burn the bus as they do in other countries and I think it’s a great idea. We can’t carry out this brilliant idea because no one has a pack of matches and none of us knows how to burn a bus.

Somebody claims he has a ‘Burning buses- a beginner’s manual’ and our excitement goes an octave higher. He immediately tells us he has it at home and we direct our fury to him.

Just as we were about to crack his skull (well it would have been a great idea) another bus happens along and we pick our luggage and start chasing it.

We realised the futility of chasing a bus going at full speed and stopped. In our desperation to catch a bus we had forgotten the first law of catching a bus: humans can only catch a bus if the bus

is moving at a speed of 5km/h or less.

This they had drilled into a lot of us in the course Catching a Bus 101. Our lecturers would have been suitably embarrassed.

The next bus did actually stop and we thankfully hopped on. However, right at the entrance the bus 1 conductor who had now found his voice perhaps because he now had some sort of leverage due to the arrival of bus 2 started acting like he had just discovered platinum.

He started yelling at us to queue up and maxed his Wooden Mic voice. I yelled back and sternly rebuked him. One guy warned him a  ‘look here my wife does the yelling and I can’t really take yelling from a bus conductor too’ reprimand. That did the trick, at least for him.

A mini conference started between the conductors of the 2 buses. They could not agree on how to reconcile the payments already made. They pulled out a cellphone and started doing the calculations.

They still didn’t agree and they pulled out a proper calculator. Still there was no resolution.

A second calculator was pulled out but was immediately shoved back in the pocket. I suspect it gave them an ‘error, replace user’ type of message.

The driver of bus 2 was consulted but he threatened them with some sort of violence. The calculators were pulled out again. After a lot of twanging and disagreement a solution was finally reached.

Meanwhile as we watched this scene play itself out a 3rd world war erupted between the passengers of bus 1 and bus 2. Bus 2 passengers felt they had some divine right to the bus and accused our conductor of being poor in Math and delaying their trip.

We would have none of that. How could they ram into the poor guy like that (this is the guy that we had been fighting with numerous times in the past hour but miraculously he had morphed into some sort of hero).

We fished for something negative to say about the bus 2 conductor. As we were struggling with the negatives some guy at the back claimed the bus 2 conductor was an airtime vendor.

Some tried to put a spin on airtime vending to make it look and sound nasty but we didn’t have very creative and nasty enough people in bus 1.

And eventually as the crowded bus pulled off we were unhappy on 3 counts: we hadn’t found seats and were standing; bus 2 had won world war 3; and they had insulted bus 1 conductor.

(For comments, feedback and insults email

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