Gesturing, waving, shouting, staring, beeping. Yep, we have all done it, or seen it. Safe in the confines of our freedom machine, we gesticulate at those who piss us off. And occasionally, just occasionally, we might overdo it a little (or we know someone who has) and the object of our derision might follow us a little too close with their lights on full beam for a while just to say they noticed.
So when our bus stops unexpectedly on the highway onramp, we are not surprised when the taxi behind us beeps a little. This is not the most convenient place to pause.
Ah! It appears our bus driver has forgotten someone. We need to go back. But we can not easily get off the highway if we get on (and this is a fixed price fare after all, so no driver worth his salt spends extra gas at $2 a litre). The only solution (of course!) is to back up the highway offramp. Not the only solution that would occur to me. But then I am not a Turkish minibus driver.
So the taxi driver beeps a little. And then a lot. And his window is open. So that means he can gesture and shout too. So he does.
Our driver gets out to survey the situation. Three cars plus the taxi behind. Some spare space that they can pass on if they were of a mind, and, a few metres back, another lane heading off the highway that he can back up, if he can just manoevre the bus back a little past these cars and any oncoming traffic.
The taxi driver continues to shout. Our bus driver waves him around, clearly intimating that he has no time for this dispute. He is under pressure. 14 people in the back (and front) and 1 forgotten. The airport to get to. No time at all.
The taxi pulls around the bus, and pulls over. A few more people from the other cars come to see what the story is.
The taxi driver gets out. He clearly does not feel he has vented his spleen enough for the 45 second delay he has been subjected too. So he comes up to the bus driver and begins to shout at him from closer quarters. And gesture. The bus driver, perhaps too easily taking the path of retaliator, begins to shout back.
This does not look good. Words are flying. Spittle is out of control. A little pushing. Blows can not be far away.
And so it begins. The bus driver head-butts the taxi driver and walks away. The latter spits twice. A tooth perhaps? And takes out his handkerchief to mop up the blood. His gums are bloody, he is taken aback, but his anger is in no way reduced.
Bus driver begins to explain to the small crowd what needs to happen to get his bus back up the onramp. Taxi driver, briefly deterred by his injury, now returns to the fray, cursing and shouting like a lunatic.
Bus driver open the bus door and pulls out his weapon of choice, a baseball bat. Well-worn. Fortunately the crowd that has gathered has cooler heads and prevent its usage. They begin to direct the traffic, and bus driver gets in, starts up and starts backing.
But it is not over yet. Full marks to the taxi driver for persistence at least. He returns, suddenly in view, with a enormous jack in hand. Too big to use as a weapon through the window of the bus, perhaps? But bus driver has nowhere to go, trapped in the cab. Natural response? Out comes the bat again.
Again, enter the crowd, restrain the taxi driver, calm the bus driver. All credit, too, to those in the front seat, who take the opportunity to grab the bat and save the taxi driver another lost tooth or worse. And to the young Turkish guy who, being last on the bus, was first off when the conflict started and instrumental in pouring oil on troubled waters.
Finally the crowd achieves its ends. The taxi driver puts away his jack and, still complaining, departs for a simpler fare. Unofficial traffic wardens guide the bus back up the onramp, and through a u-turn to freedom. And back to pick up the forgotten one.
And not another beep is heard.