David Moseley

Wheels of Fortune

2015-11-20 13:27

David Moseley

I’ve endured hair-rising drives before. After all, this is South Africa, where leaving your driveway to join a road requires more courage than a bungee jump leap of faith.

At varsity my old chum packed three of us into his VW Beetle just days after getting his licence (appropriately, at some sleepy KwaZulu-Natal south coast holiday town) and took us on a short trip from Grahamstown to Port Alfred that required a lot of drinking to forget. To this day I still squeal in terror while driving the windy, worn out R67 to the coast.

Driving once in Europe I managed to terrify myself thanks to a combination of night time discombobulation, the unholy scenario of a left-hand drive and the daft policy of letting cars drive on the wrong side of the road.

As a truck inched towards me I saw the bright, flickering lights calling me to a peaceful afterlife, realising in the nick of time that it was actually the panicked truck driver notifying the Idiot South Africa Abroad that right is right, not left.

On honeymoon, our Roman taxi driver was so excited to have “visitors from Africa” in his car that he sped through the Eternal City at a speed Enzo Ferrari would have appreciated, waving manically at the ancient sights while babbling away in what was no doubt very educational Italian.

But like they say in the classics, there’s no place like home, and certainly nothing to match home grown driving.

Last month my wife arranged an Uber driver so we could both enjoy a night out for my birthday. Apart from one gentleman driver, who insisted that a short drive from my home to Newlands rugby stadium necessitated a short, directionally-challenged detour via the CBD of Cape Town, Uber has been a grand addition to our roads (in my view, at least).

The omens on this occasion, however, we’re not promising. As we sat down in the back of the car, a beaming nutty professor type, possible retiree from the Potions Department of Hogwarts, turned to face us. “You like music?” she asked excitedly. Uh, ja, sure. Who doesn’t? “Great,” she said, and with a mad cackle, sped out of our driveway fiddling with the radio.

Moments later, Professor Trelawney, still jumping between stations, was attempting to join the highway, admirably doing her best to avoid using any of the car’s perfectly functioning mirrors. “What is this,” she asked of no one in particular, “Indian music? Why do they have Indian music on the radio?” (It was simply Major Lazer & DJ Snake’s ‘Lean On’, in case you’re wondering).

Hugging each other tightly, my wife and I whispered our goodbyes, only to be interrupted by the delightfully non sequiturish, “Hey, can you guys smell samosas? I can smell samosas? Do you like samosas? I like samosas?”.

Baffled, we just closed our eyes and hoped for the best as the car roared up Cape Town’s notorious, in that it’s an exceptionally straight forward piece of road that manages to flummox drivers daily, Hospital Bend.

By some miracle, and perhaps the divine intervention of 645 gods we committed our lives to during the drive, our Whacky Races driver got us within walking distance of our destination. “There it is,” my wife blurted like a twitcher spotting the reclusive Cape Parrot for the first time. “Stop here, right here,” she said.

Without skipping a beat, the driver stopped – in the middle of the road, on an uphill slope and with a stream of cars behind us.

Oblivious to the screeching and the honks, she turned to face us. “Ah, that wasn’t so bad, so quick too. Have a fun evening, see you again soon,” she said as we clambered breathlessly out the car, irate motorists gesticulating madly at the driver’s window.

Sitting down in the restaurant bar, the barman asked, “anything to drink.” Everything, please. Everything.

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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