The taxi driver was half an hour late. I was supposed to be at court when he arrived and when I saw it was the ancient driver in the ancient car I just felt the assignment slip out of my hands.

At first I thought it was the horrible old man in the blue car. The one we ask the company not to send. He drives at 20ks an hour and bitches all the way. Perhaps he had bought a new car so that he could get our work again. So I was a bit remote.

But this man was sweet. It wasn’t blue car man. It was Hendrik. He drove slowly and spoke about how in winter he could always smell food and was always thinking of food. Cars swung round us like dodgems as he sped up to 35. I offered him half a Marmite sandwich, which he declined. Just as he hit his full stride of 42ks, we came upon a massive truck doing a three point turn in the middle of the road.

Ag what can you do, we agreed, as we waited. We set off again and went through the s-bend, slowing down to 30 because of the speed trap (the limit is 60). We crawled past a minor bumper bashing which made Hendrik’s heart open to those who now suddenly have to find insurance excess money. He related a story of how he “let off” a woman who drove into his bumper and told him money was no object, only to find that he had to pay the R450 out of his own pocket. R450 ront, can you believe it, he said. But God gives it back to you in another way, he said.

We passed the swells of people at home affairs and I found out that he was from Benoni, but could have been Capetonian if his parents hadn’t moved just before he was born. I think he would have been a good Capetonian and I told him so. His thick silver hair combed back into his neck, blue eyes, lines on his face like contour marks on a map. He just needed a surfboard and a dog.


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