The day I got my driver’s license felt miraculous. It was utter liberation. Journeys to work that previously took an hour turned to fifteen minutes. I jumped in my car and hardly looked back.
Yesterday, though, I was driving along the N2 around 5pm, and I noticed that a Golden Arrow bus had pulled over to the hard shoulder on the on-ramp coming from Gugulethu. I wondered what was going on. A few minutes later the bus passed me, and I understood what may have been happening, and suddenly felt a desperate nostalgia for those long, damp journeys I used to take.
When I worked in Khayelitsha, I would normally take the Claremont bus home. I would wait at the bus stop chatting to my friend who ran the fruit and veg stand, then take the long ride along Lansdowne/Govan Mbeki/Imam Haron Road, and walk the remaining blocks at dusk, greeting my neighbours on the way. Once in a while, as an extra special treat, I would instead take the bus into town to meet a friend.
Around this time of the year in 2006, I caught the Cape Town via Gugulethu bus. Golden Arrow’s scheduling is a thing of wonder, and it was always the same driver for that bus. As we drove through Gugs, a fellow passenger came to me and said they were making a collection for the driver, and asked me to contribute. I was a little confused, but gave a note anyway. As we left Gugs and were about to get onto the freeway, the driver pulled over, got out of his cab, came into the passenger side and faux-grumpily said ‘what’s all this about then?’. The passenger who had made the collection (and asked the driver to stop for a moment) walked to the front and gave her speech. It went something like this. ‘You are such a kind man and so generous. If you see us running you always wait. You know every one of your passengers. We feel safe with you. When your son went to the bush and you took leave, you told us in advance and told us who your replacement would be. We’ve made this collection to say thank you for all your hard work’. She handed over a card and R500.
It was a beautiful act of gratitude and I think about it most Decembers.
Today’s music video contains beautiful imagery of journeys, so it felt somewhat apt. It is by one of my all time favourite artists. In another post I will speak of how I came to know his work. For now, enjoy!