Wednesday was an important day for me—I took public transportation alone! PJ walked me to the neighborhood taxi stop in Bellville, but I got on the kombi, paid for myself, and got around Bellville Station alone. Found the Mowbray (UCT-area) taxi stop… and eventually made it to my destination.
Taxis have a funny was of running; if they decide they’re not full enough toward the middle or end of their trip, they pull to the side of the road and give their passengers to another driver going the same way. They are supposed to give over the fare each passenger gave them, and it should all be even-steven.
Except Wednesday, when I transferred taxis, the first car I got into kept my fare. The second taxi crew wasn’t pleased, but they left me alone after asking two or three times if I was sure I’d already paid.
Yep. I was sure.
Then the second taxi I was on also transferred passengers, and I assume no fare was transferred for me. But the third driver was nice and even though I was on for the ride the longest (ostensibly without paying), he dropped me off just where I wanted to go.
Treated myself to a long Mediterranean lunch, then coffee, while reading for class.
My Wednesday class, which is about the theory and practice of social development, is always my favorite. (My other class and it’s lab are about social research. I know I need this knowledge base, it’s just a little dry at times.)
After class I hiked to the Rosebank train station alone. The snack stand (tuck shop) owner came and sat with me for a while after noticing I was alone at the track, waiting. He told me he started working at that stand when his daughter studied at UCT, and now all UCT students are like his children. He told me that if anyone ever bothers me on a train, hit them first and ask questions later. His advice also included a bit about looking confident and not afraid, and that I should introduce myself to shady people by saying, “Don’t f*** with me, don’t you know who I am?”
I haven’t had to use any of that advice yet. But it was nice to know someone had my back. He opened the train door for me and everything.
Switched trains in Salt River so I could head up to the Northern Suburbs. I found a flock of older women to wait with, and pretty soon they’d adopted me. They told me my accept sounded British and quickly guessed I was at UCT. Was given all sorts of advice about not displaying money or a phone on the train (oh, I got this already). They told me to always know where the nearest police officer is, and that it’s OK to talk to medical staff, too.
They were: One Cape Town Metro employee, one nurse in a delivery room, and one high school secretary (or seckie). When vagrants tried to talk to me, these aunties formed a block around me. They insisted that once I was on the train and it was leaving the station, I call PJ, and insist that he meet me at Platform 4 at Bellville Station. (His brother picked up the phone when I called, and the aunties started a chorus of “PLATFORM 4! PLATFORM 4!” It took a while for me to get through to anyone at that point, but it was very sweet.)
The nurse talked to me the most on the train. I thanked her for looking out for me, and she told me her job is to take care of people. Sometimes she comforts patients while they weep; she’ll hold their hands and listen closely. Sometimes patients verbally abuse her to the point where she has to go to a bathroom stall and cry it out. But she never stops looking out for people.
The seckie rode the longest with me, and when it came to my stop, she walked me to the door. Found PJ on the platform right away.
Thank God for aunties.