Column Squad

Taxi Memoirs: At The Mercy Of A Mentally Ill Driver


I have heard people talk about how insane out taxi drivers are. This is usually said fondly like how one would talk about a prank loving nephew. But let me tell you there is nothing adorable about the mentally ill, abusive driver whose taxi I blacklisted and will never ever be caught dead in again.

I think this is the time I should confess; I fear and abhor abuse in any form and shape whether it is directed at myself or at someone else. As a result I have such a nose for abusers that I can smell them a mile away.  In fact, if a group of people were to sit in a room, I would sniff out the abusers the way dogs sniff out drug carriers.

Because of this fear I have read widely about the subject and can diagnose anyone within five minutes of meeting them. You see while abusers might be different they all have some outstanding similarities. For instances abusers tend to believe they are “owed” by everyone and thus everyone (including their victim) should give them what they want. This makes them feel entitled to give orders, control and abuse in order to get what they want. Similarly, they tend to be self-centered to the point where they feel they can, and should, tell others what they are thinking and feeling.

Our driver in this case had a serious case of antisocial personality disorder – this disorder shows a pattern of disregard for the rights of others and the rules of society. People with antisocial personality disorder tend to lie, be aggressive, disregard safety, violate the law and have a lack of remorse.

His pudgy faced sullen expression should have been a clear warning but most people who wake up to drive taxis at 5 AM usually have nothing to be cheerful about.  Today he is dressed carelessly in a creased shirt a characteristic of those who didn’t put on clothes until later in life and therefore regard them as a nuisance to be tolerated. He keeps tossing coffee beans into his mouth and spitting husks out of the window every few seconds.

Meanwhile, he keeps his eyes on the road but clearly he has an extra set at the back of his head like some of our primary teachers used to possess.

He keeps up a litany of complaints about the conductor’s shortcomings until we all start feeling sorry for the poor conductor cowering on the Kameme.

When he is not being blamed for being too slow to open the door, he is being accused of being too fast and leaving behind some prospective passengers. He is unable to think, to count, to reason, to imagine or understand. In other words he can’t do anything right. No matter how many “ee ssebos” the conductor says, the driver is unconvinced and the barrage of abuse keeps flowing.

On Jinja road when we run into a jam, the driver asks the conductor to buy him a bottle of water from the vendors. The first bottle he claims is too cold while the second one is too warm. By now I realize that I should have brought my Avent baby feed monitor to help the conductor but alas I didn’t. Eventually the king settles for a bottle of soda instead.  The whole scenario gets me thinking about our safety in these taxis. Most of these drivers are obviously suffering from one disorder or other but no one seems concerned by the psychological or even physical damage they might cause to innocent passengers. I think someone somewhere should do something before things get out of hand.