Driving in Johannesburg… There’s a lot to be said about it and a lot is said about it. Besides the weather, it’s very likely you will find this topic on the menu in any conversation serving small talk.
If you have had an incident with a taxi, if you have seen a taxi driving badly, if you have been stuck in traffic or if you have been within 100m of a pot hole, you should be safe if you’re having a conversation with a stranger.
But what about hitting intersections when the light is red? And in Johannesburg, the hawkers and beggars that have claimed ever intersection that sees more than three cars an hour. The market is saturated and they are getting creative.
Like the old guy that leaned against my window and asked me if I remember him. I ignored him. He said it was when I was on holiday in America. When I told him I had never been there he said it must have been London. I haven’t been there either. But nice try.
This is where my habit of pulling up two metres before the line at an intersection comes in handy. I can just edge forward away from the annoyance. They usually take a hint.
Then there is the guy that sells cell phone chargers. I admire his persistence. Not many people are driving at 7am on a Saturday morning. Those of us that are tend to be cheerful because we’re on our way somewhere cool – so Charger Guy cashes in on this.
He greets me as the most beautiful woman he has ever seen at that robot (which is sweet actually – because I haven’t brushed my hair and I’m in scruffy riding gear). If I have R50 I can have a charger. R20 when I tell him I only have small change.
And by this time the guy selling the cokes and the sun glasses has noticed that I have made eye contact and is coming over. He doesn’t think I’m the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, but he does think I’m thirsty.