A week ago, in Bogota, I asked a cab driver which team he wanted to win the World Cup. “Does it matter?” he asked back. “Colombia is not playing, so why should I care?” Half a mile ahead, he failed to hit a bus by an inch. “You almost killed us,” I said. “Would it have mattered that much?” he replied. I don’t know whether he was referring to the fact that he didn’t find me valuable enough through the rear-view mirror, or to the fact that, now that we weren’t worthy enough to participate in the World Cup, we might as well try to score a goal under a bus.
Turning off the main highway in Johannesburg, South Africa, our minibus taxi is stopped by a police officer at a roadblock. Our driver, a jaunty Zulu-speaking teen sporting a black baseball cap and an ancient plastic armband that might have been a “LiveStrong” bracelet from another geological era, pulls over to the side of the road and rolls down his window. The officer reaches inside, hooks his fingers through the bracelet, snatches the driver out of the minibus, and begins punching him. None of my fellow passengers twitch.