It is said that in general, generalisations should be avoided. We are told that we should not malign an entire group of people because of the behaviour of some members of that group. But dang! What is it that happens when men get behind the wheel of a minibus or taxi? It has to be that the dollar signs blur their vision, block their hearing and remove their reason.
Nearly every other person who travels in minibuses has a story to tell- the ones who survive the madness that is. More often than not it’s a horror story of a near miss; or of offensive music or language in an overfilled bus or something like that.
Drivers who have the dubious pleasure of sharing the road with this group of people also have stories to tell. For the most part, their stories are told in rich, fulsome language peppered with expletives, derogatory names and the like. These drivers fall into two categories. Category A drivers wince and reach for the Extra-Strength Excedrin and the Tums they keep in their glove compartments for use every time they see a minibus or taxi in the vicinity of their vehicle. They usually tend to try and pull over and let them by. Category B drivers let their tempers go into overdrive. They curse, shout, scream and attempt to compete with the minibuses/taxis. Mostly they lose and the result is the current mayhem on the streets.
Anyone who has never seen a minibus in operation during the rush hour is missing an important part of their education. Observing the mad rush should be a required subject on this country’s school curriculum and there should be an advance course in it taught at the University of Guyana titled ‘How Not to Drive 101’. Every person who wishes to obtain a driver’s licence should be required to score not less than an A- in this course.
It should be interactive and students taking it should be required to leave all distractions at home; so no cell phones, no iPods; in fact anything that takes the student’s attention off the drivers should be left at home.
Students will be able to see firsthand how sane drivers are forced off the road by maniacs overtaking other maniacs who don’t want to be overtaken. They—the students that is—ought to be allowed to wear sunglasses at night as they will have to observe the misuse of high-beam lights and illegal white glare headlights. They will learn and then have to unlearn how minibus and taxi drivers who want to overtake a vehicle put on their high beams which reflect in the rearview mirrors of the driver in front of them, effectively blinding him so he is forced to pull over and let them by. They will hear the maniacal laughter of the evil driver as he passes the temporarily blinded one. They will have to learn not to laugh like that.
They will see the ‘sliders’, These are the drivers who zip pass, overtaking on the wrong side – the ones for whom the word “undertaking” (supposed to be the opposite of overtaking ) has been coined. They have to be taught that it’s illegal.
They will see the ‘creepers’. These are the drivers who inch up in the turning lane while watching the countdown on the traffic lights because really they’re not turning at all. As soon as or just before the green arrow appears signalling go, they will observe the ‘creepers’ metamorphose into ‘sliders’ and zoom pass. Again, the maniacal laughter will be heard.
They will learn to treat with cynicism, these same public transport drivers, who cry out for higher fares and concessions citing wear and tear on their vehicles because they will have learnt that speeding and stopping suddenly, sliding, creeping and other forms of ‘hoggish’ driving quickly wears brakes, tyres, shocks etc.
Hopefully, they will decide that they don’t want to drive while still too young or depending on the level of the lesson, that they don’t want to drive or be driven at all.