Guest Column

Rather be safe than sorry and embarrassed

2018-06-03 08:20
A shooting has erupted at a taxi rank. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

A shooting has erupted at a taxi rank. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

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Timothy Molobi

Now I know why some taxi drivers wait for passengers to pay first, then pull into a garage to fill their tank. I have always wondered why they would do this. It is time-consuming and inconveniencing. Why can’t they do it without passengers, I always asked myself.

But what I saw on a highway this week made me realise that these drivers know what they are doing. I had just passed a long-distance bus with passengers and a trailer, stuck on the side of the highway in early morning traffic – not far away from its final destination at Park Station (probably less than 3km away, I imagine).

I never thought much of it until, a few metres away, I saw two men with 20 litre or 25 litre containers, running down to the nearest petrol station. It then dawned to me that the bus had run out of fuel. I had never imagined this could happen – to a passenger bus, nogal. But then, it says a lot about never taking anything for granted.

Imagine the frustration of the passengers in the bus – who had probably travelled overnight – who had to endure another stop on the side of the road, but unnecessarily so.

I must confess that I have been a victim of this before. While driving with some colleagues from a Bafana Bafana game in Port Elizabeth in the early 2000s, we also got stuck on the road. The owner of the car, whose name I won’t mention for fear of rebuttal and exposing him, had insisted the car had enough fuel to take us to the next petrol station. As the driver, I had had some reservations but it was not my car and I had to go with his judgement. Lo and behold, about 150km outside Colesburg, the car engine started cutting out. The owner was sleeping at the time but, me being me, I woke him up and gave him the bad news. He pretended to be in shock and said it was the first time he had underestimated the gauge of the tank.

Then he had to hike to the nearest garage in Bloemfontein to get petrol. It took him almost two hours to return with a few containers of petrol.

Since then I have never taken a chance with limited petrol in the tank. I always make sure that there is enough to reach my destination. It is so embarrassing and frustrating to get stuck, you don’t even know where to hide.

What I saw this week really made me rethink about taking short cuts, miscalculations, underestimations and all things we always think are possible. Never take anything for granted, for you might end up with egg in your face. I would rather be safe than sorry.

Rather waste five minutes in a garage than get stuck for an hour on the side of the road. Lesson learnt! I will never question taxi drivers’ wisdom again.

Follow me on Twitter @TimSpirit

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