A terrible feeling of deja vu befalls me as some wise guy claims the bus won’t reach GC because it will most likely break down.
I curse softly under my breath and scowl at him as he circles the bus. I can’t have another bus breaking down on me in a space of 2 days.
I pray silently for the bus, for the driver and the conductor and their families. They really need my prayers because after my previous experience I had prepared a toolkit of how to deal with transport personnel and it was really nasty staff. The contents were choice phrases, a few French terms, a fight-till-you-drop mentality, sneers, jeers and a thick skin. The whole nine yards and though I was anxious to trial it I felt sorry for the unfortunate person who’d be at the receiving end. I sat by a window whose curtains kept flapping against my face.
That was enough to set me off. I signalled to the conductor to come and fix it and he promptly came to sort it out. I was disappointed. I should have been happy. I looked for some more leverage to goad the conductor into a shouting match. There was absolutely nothing to bait him with. Nothing! Clearly this can’t work for conductors who haven’t been to Conductor College-you know the nasty ones that are always looking for a fight. I nicely, reluctantly put the kit away for the next bus. This was a disappointment. If it was a building it would have been 50 storeys high with the word DISAPPOINTMENT written in large red letters. The bus inched along to Mahalapye and after buying some refreshments (yes, refreshments) including a power bank that can charge a Honda Fit all hell broke loose. As the drinki-le-metsi or dijo-bagolo team trooped out of the bus one of them thrust a pack of chicken
I don’t know if it was the smell of the chicken dunked in oil from the chicken oulet griller (anybody who has been brave enough to try it knows it could be quite a challenge) or the face of the vendor (it wasn’t much to look at even by my low standards) or the previous cellphone conversation with a mean wife. He spewed out a couple of expletives that had almost everyone’s neck twisted in the direction of the verbal duel. The whole bus quietened and watched the exchanges. The drinki-le-metsi guy rallied back but he was no match for the passenger.
The passenger seemed to have stolen my toolkit. He was measured, he was calm, he was unrelenting and he was consistent. The drinki-le-metsi gladiator realised this was a level totally different from advertising biltong with floral language.
He slinked off and exited the bus. And as usual in an argument after it’s over you remember something smart that you should have said. The vendor came back and mumbled something to the passenger who laughed it off and pushed the vendor farther into Idiotville.
The bus left Mahalapye and its disgraced vendors - how they had someone so inept to represent the village in a national duel still beats me.
As I approach the city (every taxpaying Motswana knows ‘the city’ even though there are officially 2) I fervently hope that the last 20km will happen without a bus incident. I marvel at the characters who made this trip memorable. I chuck out my toolkit and lament at what a waste of time it was to put it together and never get the opportunity to use it.