‘Hey, magents, hey!’ Jebson hammers his one litre Black Label bottle on the table. Everyone turns to look at him. ‘I want to talk to you, and all you do is warra warra, how can we have a meeting if you do that?’
They quieten down slowly and, as the noise subsides, he looks at these men, his men, his bread and butter. Empty KFC boxes and Black Label one litre bottles litter the table. They’ve had their socialising; now it’s time for business.
He looks down at a roster prepared before the meeting. Now he looks up: ‘Johannes, Sipho, Innocent, Mwage, Phineas, you’ve got yellow line duty this week.’
There’s a huge outcry at this. ‘No, Bra Jeb, why you choose us? You know if we drive in the yellow lines, the cops they stop us!’
‘But I give you bribe money?'
‘Ya, Bra Jeb, but sometimes they don’t want that bribe, they want to give us a ticket.’
‘Ya?’ He looks at them, head askance. ‘You are supposed to tear up those tickets.’
‘Ya, Bra Jeb, but they got a computer, and they keep those tickets on the computer, then they know how many we throw away!’
‘So what’s the problem?’
Johannes is pleading now. ‘Bra Jeb, they impound our taxis, then we have to catch another taxi!’
At this, the hall erupts in laughter. Johannes turns on them. ‘Ya, you can laugh because it’s not you, but you cry also when Bra Jeb gives you this job!’
That results in even more laughter, because it’s true that they all hate this job more than any other, and they don’t have to do it this week.
Bra Jeb looks at Johannes. ‘Did I ask you to do it, Johannes, or did I tell you?’ Johannes drops his gaze and sits down sulkily. ‘Yellow line driving is important: I won’t just ask you because I like it! We must show them we are the bosses; their laws are not for us.’
‘Oka-a-a-ay! Next. Boetie, Hlompho, Lazarus, Sibo: parking in front of stop streets to pick up passengers. The important thing is to sit with your finger out the window and wait for passengers. When the line of cars is nice and long, put on your hazards and pull straight into the traffic and, when they hoot, say thanks.’ There are no complaints with this one; everyone likes this, and the four of them are smiling broadly.
‘Now, Casper, Kgomotso, Darius, Moses, Genius: turning right from the straight only lane. This is also important, and you must look straight in front of you when you do it. If you look at them and point to the spot in front of them, that is begging. We are the bosses of the road; we designed those routes.’ There are plenty of nods around the table now. ‘The only thing you can do that is better, is to do a u turn from the middle lane, especially when there are plenty of cars waiting to turn, and the flasher is already orange.’
‘Okay, next one. Phumi, Zondo, Jacob, Isaac: going through the red light before it’s green or after it’s turned red. If other cars have to swerve, it’s even better.’
‘Aah, Bra Jeb,’ says Jacob. ‘Last week some momparrah hit my taxi on the driver’s door. Not the passengers, but me!’
‘You want to find yourself another job, Jacob?’
Jacob looks down; he knows when he’s beaten. ‘No Bra Jeb.’
‘Good, then you just do what I tell you, okay?’
Jacob nods and picks up his beer. ‘Ya, Bra Jeb.’
‘Now, Job, Jackie, Samson, Justus, your job for the week is overtaking cars and then stopping in front of them to pick up passengers’
Loud whistles from these four: this is everyone’s favourite.
‘Last one: BRT. Ezekiel, John, Molepi, Kgaso. You must drive in the BRT lanes in the morning when it’s busy, then stop and hold out your finger and wait for passengers. The more the busses pile up behind you, the better for you. These people stole our routes, and now they are trying to steal our business. We can only stop them if we make them go very slow.’
He looks down the table now.’ I’ve got only one small complaint, but we can fix it next time. When we go on the go-slow on the e-toll road with Cosatu, we must stop to pick up passengers, otherwise we lose all our money. Okay, that’s all, now you can party, but if you can pick up some passengers on the way home, try and drive straight.’
He sits down and picks up his beer. Ya, he showed them who’s the boss, and they won’t forget in a hurry. President Zuma would be proud of him.