I took a taxi for the first time ever in Joburg after days of practicing my "after robot" exclamation

Catching a taxi.
Catching a taxi.

As a Capetonian, who just recently relocated to Johannesburg (and by recently, I mean like five days), I can't deny the fact that I feel like a fish out water despite always having believed that I belong in this city for years. 

It's not a negative feeling, but rather just a matter of slowly adjusting and attempting to integrate inconspicuously into the routine and culture. Lifestyle and routine-wise, I am Capetonian through and through.

I'm used to walking in the city centre with earphones plugged into my ears, and even pulling my phone out to skip a track. I'm used to speaking English to the taxi gaartjie and hailing said taxi as if it were a yellow cab.

I've been using the MyCiti bus service for two years. The most expensive Uber trip I'm familiar with is one to the airport or Constantia (about R150 - R200).

And I don't consider 6pm too late a time to leave my place.

READ MORE: We asked three well-heeled women to tell us how much living conditions differ between Joburg and Cape Town

Well, that is until I moved to one of South Africa's biggest crime hotspots. Time to ditch life and convenience as I know it.

Luckily, though, I live very close to work, so that has eliminated a great deal of my commuting woes.

Each Uber trip to and from work has cost me between R25 and R30 per trip. Given that the distance between work and home is so short then, I've been toying with the idea of taking a taxi to work, so I tried it this afternoon.

But first, not without a tutorial from a colleague, who schooled me briefly on directions, how to stop a taxi exactly and when to shout, "after robot!"

I was nervous without a doubt. Not because I'm unfamiliar with public transport, but because I had just major concerns about my safety. And yes, I know many people catch taxis and live to tell the story (like me) daily, but my fear was based merely on the fact that I'm a newbie, who speaks Xhosa and survival Zulu (sometimes Setswana too).

I chose to speak Zulu because it seems to be a universal means of communication here. 

READ MORE: A viral thread on Twitter that asks what women would do if there was a 9pm curfew for men at night, is heartbreaking

This is how it went:

From work to Spar

The sweltering heat aside, this turned out to be super easy and quick. I signaled a taxi to stop with my index finger pointed downwards and got in. I said "Spar" as I passed my fare forwards (so far so Cape Town) and when I spotted the Spar sign literally three minutes later, I said the magic two words, "after robot."

The driver stopped and I said "ngiyabonga." 

So so so chilled. 

From Spar back to work

I stepped into the store briefly to get some sparkling water (because 35 degree heat) and continued my #ComfortZoneExit challenge.

Going back up towards town was a little trickier because taxis going in that direction are full, but I finally managed to hail one down.

It stopped, but it was full. The only available seat was the front seat.

"Am. I. Going. To. Count. Change?" I thought briefly to myself.

Luckily not. Everybody had already paid and the driver was handling his own maths.

Again, another stress-free trip that took no longer than 10 minutes. I think walking from the drop-off to the office might have even taken longer than the actual drive. 

I'm glad I took this challenge and I'm going to try get into this routine once I've settled in the city properly. 


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