1979 Army “basics” – basic training – and my buddy Graham and I are hitch-hiking from Potch to Harrismith. Waiting for a next ride outside Villiers in the darkness of that Friday night a clapped-out bakkie stopped. At last. Jump on, says the weirdo who looks three sheets to the wind, while handing us a quart of beer to share.
Screaming along the road to Warden we glance nervously through the back window into the cab and over the driver’s shoulder, the speedo needle was quivering at 135kmh! We glance at each other, trying to be casual. Nonchalant.
Suddenly a loud schlap schlap schlap schlap sound and the bakkie lurches. Burst tyre!
We start skidding sideways with the white line coming at us from the left;
Then skidding with the white line coming at us from the right;
Then going backwards staring at the white line racing under the back of the bakkie towards us as we sit facing what should have been backwards;
Then spinning round to see the white line receding away from us – as it should.
We come to a halt still upright and facing forward – and on the correct side of the road; RELIEF!
COME! I barked at Graham. Grabbing our balsaks we hopped off and walked back where we’d come from into the night without a backward glance or even a single word to the driver. I did not want to engage with him in any way at all. We walked till completely out of sight and out of earshot in the dark night.
Where we hitched a ride with another stranger.