My name is James. James Muhanguzi. Actually, forget that second name. Call me James. I prefer that.
Wait, are you recording? Great!
Now, I’m known in these parts as a person who takes people for a ride. I take that literally, because I do take people for a ride; I am a Taxify driver. The cab guy. The pilot.
In my line of duty, I see things. Unsaid things. Gory things. Interesting things. Things I wish I hadn’t seen. Places I wish I could never go back to. Places I wish I could live. From the darkened alleys of Kawempe to the affluent suburbs of Naguru. People I wish I haven’t met. People I wish I can meet, every day. Good people. Drunk people. More drunk people. Sober people. People who barely say a thing past a faint hello. People who wail at me for not beating the traffic, or changing the radio station. People who are chatterboxes. Girls. Slay queens. Boys. A group of boys. Staggering. Puking. Laughing, noisily. Hurling obscenities laced with gin and smoke. I meet good people with good hearts. People who will say, “James, you said? James, keep the change.” They’re rare, but I meet them, too.
This is a job for the thick-skinned. And over the few months, I have taught my skin to toughen up, my pores to thicken, and my heart to harden. I have been driving Taxify for a few months now, and I admit, it’s been such a ride. A bumpy one. A smooth one. All rolled on this road called adulting and in quest to look for a living in this city.
This is my day job. I love it. All was fine until this…this one night.
Someone ordered a ride for a lady. At about 1am in the night. I was exhausted out of my wits, but I stepped on the gas and drove where she was. That night, I had used a different car. And there she was. At first glance, her flame looked familiar, but I ignored it. She was visibly drunk and she groggily walked to the car. Her high heels made her tower over Kampala’s skyscrapers. She lugged a handbag that, at close inspection, looks familiar too. And her cologne. A whiff that was as familiar as the back of my palm. Again, I ignored.
The night was still. Above us, the moon shone brightly. A glowing African moon. The roads were clear. And the air was fresh. On the stereo, a Linkin’ Park song blared. Sweet Symphony. So, she entered the car and mentioned where she was going. She never mumbled a greeting. Her eyes were fixed on her phone, the phone light illuminating her beautiful face. I couldn’t see her properly from the rear-view mirror. I pushed the gas and drove, my eyes firmly pressed on the bare road carefully, to avoid a head-on collision with a drunk insomniac in the night of unending binge, or a darned wild animal. Like a zebra. You know.
I drove on.
We arrived at the said destination. “Hoot,” she hissed. I hooted. And a beefy lad stepped out. Broad shoulders. Palms the size of a saucepan. He staggered over, leaned in the car window and asked how much it was. I responded. He paid.
My passenger opened the car and swanned out. Her long legs on firmly pressed on the ground. Her handbag in hand. Her whiff, that familiar cologne, following her like an invisible poodle.
The broad-shouldered lad picked her off the ground, the way you would pick a paper bag, and embraced her in his virile arms. I looked at this tableau before me, trying to study the lady’s face. She turned briefly to wave goodbye to the cab guy, the pilot. And I saw her in full view.
She was my girlfriend.
Disclaimer: Taxify, Europe and Africa’s fastest-growing ride-sharing platform, launched in Uganda. Hundreds of drivers signed up to the platform and ready to accept rides anywhere in the city.
On its launch, it gave discounts of 15% to riders where the fares were to start at UGX950, UGX600 per Km, UGX150 per minute, while the minimum price was UGX4,500. Taxify then takes only 15% commission from its drivers, which is far lower than the 25% that competitors take. The lower commission allows Taxify to offer both lower prices for riders and more take-home pay for drivers. Taxify already operates in 20 counties worldwide, and has seen huge success with its fairer more transparent ride-sharing employees.
The Taxify app is available on iOS and Android.