Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Georgina of the Jungle Gym

I have started the New Year and decade without any resolutions. The thought of setting goals and then not meeting them just doesn't appeal to me. My self esteem is already quite low after realising I'm the world's worst blogger. Even a dyslexic child living in some remote village in India can blog faster than I can.

I have however decided to maintain my regular visits to the gym. And I'm so glad I did. Not for the obvious benefit of losing weight, that is still a massive work in progress. But for the pure entertainment value alone. As well as the inspiration to finally blog about something in the new decade.

I'm fortunate that the high security compound I reside in (remember, this city is called SodThem and GoMoorHaar) has a small but adequately equipped gym. This is a great perk to make use of as the thought of having to go to the Active Virgin club around the corner fills me with dread. Being surrounded by perfect specimens who never sweat and have perfectly coiffed hair at 5am turns my stomach. So I enjoy the freedom of going to the gym in the afternoon with never more than 4 or 5 companions. And I don't feel embarrassed that I'm wearing Nike's that are 10 years old and sweatpants and a t-shirt.

I don't exactly blend in at the gym but I don't warrant a second glance which is what I aim for. This leaves me with enough time during my workout to observe the others. The last couple of weeks, I have been gymming with the same group of guys. And they have provided me with the most wonderful entertainment, free of charge! For starters, I find it fascinating that they never warm up by cycling or running on the treadmill. They head straight for the free weights and immediately launch themselves into lifting the heaviest weights possible. Not to mention the prancing in between repetitions. I finally understand why an entire wall in a gym is covered in mirrors - so the testosterone tyrants can admire themselves from every conceivable angle.

It was during one of my visits last week that things got interesting. I warmed up as per usual and then started on the different machines. It wasn't long before I was joined by what can only be described as a shorter version of Johnny Bravo. Following the Testosterone Junkie's Guide to Working Out, Johnny heads to the mirrors and the free weights and gets going. At this point I'm halfway into my workout and suffering. I'm talking man sweat (achieved when your entire shirt is wet, front and back) and exhibiting facial expressions rivaling Linda Blair in The Exorcist. I'm cursing my ill discipline the last decade and vow never to eat again. Only to be blissfully rescued by renewed antics in front of the mirror. I had to stop and observe because it was too good to miss. Johnny had taken a break from lifting weights heavy enough to anchor the QE2. Strutting back and forth in front of the mirror, he suddenly stopped, lifted up his arms and kissed each bicep. I couldn't contain my laughter and dropped to the floor pretending to do push-ups, unsuccessful of course. Thank God I wasn't on the stationary bike, I would've fallen off and seriously injured myself. How do you explain to the doctor that you fell off a stationary bike without her sending you to AA sessions?

He either didn't notice that I saw him or didn't care. Why would you when you can beat up every other human being on the planet? I managed to get off the floor eventually after sticking to the exercise mat thanks to my man sweat. I finished the rest of my workout trying not to look like the Cheshire Cat. I already don't understand much about men, probably not unlike 90% of women out there. But if you want to confuse matters even more, go to the gym and observe. I couldn't even flatter myself that he was prancing around for my benefit. Remember the Linda Blair image? Go Google it if you don't know what I'm talking about. No, Johnny Bravo would've been kissing his biceps whether I was there or not. I can only imagine what would've happened if hot girls were in the gym at the same time. I fear that butt clenches may have appeared at some stage.

I now relish going to the gym thanks to Johnny and his buddies. They've turned an unpleasant painful experience into an entertaining, painful experience. Not to mention that the gym overlooks the compound's creche. And from time to time the kids will be outside playing on the jungle gym. I spend my 10 minutes warming up observing them. And trying to spot Johnny jnr. Showing off by going backwards down the slide and standing on the tyre swing.

There's always a Johnny around. Try and spot him next time you are out and about.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Spending money is harder than you think

I am in Namibia. At least I was when I started typing this. On business but to be perfectly honest, a 10 hour day at the office won’t be the order of the day. It will be three days of work and then a weekend of waking up to the sound of the ocean instead of gunshots. I’m very excited.

I was even more excited when I realised that I will receive another stamp in my passport and more importantly, will have access to the greatest experience known to man – DUTY FREE SHOPPING. For weeks I have been pinching Rands where I can. Even foregoing the Kugel Poodle’s bi-weekly grooming trip to the Italian lady who so lovingly makes her tail poufy. My flight is at 06:00 so I need to be at the airport at 04:00. With great care and detail I calculate the checking in of my luggage and being allowed through passport control. This should take no more than 30-45 minutes which leaves me with a good hour of shopping before I need to board the plane. The plan is to complete my Christmas shopping in under an hour and at a bargain as well. For this sole reason I check in another suitcase, only partly filled with shoes and my supply of medication (seriously, drop me off in the middle of Africa and I can cure most people with what I’ve got in my suitcase – without a potato or clove of garlic in sight). I’ve therefore got more than enough space for goods purchased at a bargain.

Our great national carrier’s staff only arrives at 04:40 to open the check in counters. At this point, I already had breakfast in order to get me ready for my hour shopping marathon. Never shop on an empty stomach. Your blood sugar drops as the adrenalin kicks in and you are left depleted of much needed energy to complete your shopping mission. I’ve seen many a rookie shopper collapse and it isn’t pretty. Needless to say, I’m pacing up and down waiting for the check in process to start. I’ve already lost valuable minutes thanks to the (re)tardiness of some.

After another 15 minute delay, I finally make my way through passport control and am ready to shop. But I’m greeted with an eerie silence similar to a Leon Schuster movie screened to Souties from Sandton. About 2 seconds later the awful reality sets in. My Mecca is not open for business before 6am. And there I stand in the middle of the passage, forlorn and lost for words. The disappointment is written all over my face and I fear I may burst into tears. It’s only the Afrikaner blood pumping through my veins that saves me from a complete collapse in the middle of the duty free shopping area. With the same resolve which enabled my ancestors to make it barefoot over the Drakensberg, I pull myself together and make my way to the only establishment open at 05:15 – a coffee shop.

That was the start of my trip. Intense disappointment along with the bitter taste of a R20 cup of coffee. I suppose having not been able to shop at 05:15 in the morning, you may as well spend your thousands earmarked for duty free shopping on coffee.

Things did improve drastically from that point on. The flight to Windhoek was half full which left a seat open next to me. The irony – my shopping could’ve gone there. Nonetheless, the flight was pleasant and I arrived in Windhoek having recovered from the shock of being left stranded by the gods of retail. The 42km drive from the airport to Windhoek is pleasant with dramatic landscape accompanying you on your journey. Thanks to my trusty GPS (after only 18 months in Jo’burg I’ve transformed into a yuppie), I have no anxiety about arriving in a strange city (ok, large dorp) and can enjoy my surroundings. This led to me spotting one of the most interesting sights for the duration of my trips.

Upon entering Windhoek at the 3rd or 4th traffic light you’ll encounter, there was a metro policeman directing traffic. Nothing unusual there except that there were 15 men and women standing on the pavement carefully observing his every move. They wore vests which proudly displayed something to the effect of ‘traffic school’. And they were dutifully mimicking his gestures and movements with intense concentration. Here and there you could spot the few within the group who were destined for greatness. They were focused and from time to time would turn to a struggling team member and indicate that they were not gesturing as their leader in the intersection was doing. I had a good minute to observe them before I reluctantly had to move on. It was incredibly funny but endearing at the same time. Call me sentimental but public servants displaying dedication to this degree, make me misty eyed.

Driving around Windhoek is an absolute joy. After a few minutes I switched the GPS off and found my way with relative ease. No wonder one of the clients I went to see told me that you don’t need a fancy gadget to direct you around. You only need to use your head and ask a local to direct you to the next spot you need to be at. There’s parking everywhere and in most cases, you don’t need to pay. I never spotted any traffic police monitoring if people were adhering to the time limit allocated to certain bays and overall, I felt free. Safe and free. Windhoekers will warn you of the high crime rate and that you need to be on the lookout for all sorts of criminals prowling the streets. During the two days I was navigating around Windhoek, the worst criminal I spotted was a tourist wearing safari socks with his sandals. Hideous and a crime of fashion beyond any reasonable doubt. The streets are free of litter and the beer kept cold wherever you go. I couldn’t ask for more.

On to Swakopmund. I was staying on for the weekend at my own expense and therefore had to find a reasonable establishment at under N$300 a night. Easier said than done as Swakop draws huge tourist numbers. I finally found a small hotel called Prinzessin Ruprecht where I could find a room under N$300 per night. Perfect. The history of the hotel sounded fascinating to me. Built in 1902 as a military hospital, it served as an old age home as well before being turned into a hotel. There’s a beautiful garden and safe parking off street (remember, Namibia is a dangerous place full of sock and sandal clad criminals). What they somehow neglected to tell you is that the hotel also still serves as an old age home. Many of the rooms and smaller units are occupied by senior citizens. This in itself did not bother me; the place was as a result very quiet. But exiting my room in the morning onto the balcony overlooking the garden and courtyard, left me with a decidedly creepy feeling. For there would always be a few ladies out and about, slowing pushing their Zimmer trollies around the courtyard. It was like a scene from Cocoon and coupled with the realization that the place may be haunted given its past as a military hospital, sleep did not always come easy. But I survived and ended up having a great time amongst the elderly.

After 5 relaxing days with some business thrown into the mix (hopefully enough to keep the empire happy), I’m back at the airport. For some reason I’m upgraded to Business Class which leaves me dumbstruck but grateful. The tide seems to be turning and perhaps today is the day that things will work in my favour. I make my way through passport control. Oh joy, the shops are open and ready for business. I charge in with glee. My cup and basket is overflowing. Until I reach the cashier and she tells me that as a South African citizen, I’m not entitled to shop at duty free. Again, I find myself standing forlorn in the middle of the duty free shopping area wondering why the gods of retail have conspired against me. I half heartedly argued with her for a minute and then gave up. My only revenge was to leave her to go and unpack my basket and place everything back where it belongs. That should keep her busy for a good half hour. I only wish I added more to the basket. Irritated and disappointed I made my way to the business lounge. Having been upgraded I could at least spend the next two hours slightly more comfortable and access my e-mail. Think again. I had to pay to make use of the lounge as it’s privately owned and managed and my upgrade meant jack shyst to the unfriendly woman behind the counter. I paid the N$150 and asked her if I could at least access the Wi-Fi network to check my e-mail. The answer was of course a resounding ‘no’. You needed to pay and even if you were willing to do so (I was not), they had no Wi-Fi vouchers left.

So this is where I currently find myself. (By the time you read this I'll be back in Jo'burg.) Surrounded by khaki clad Bratwursts clutching bubble wrapped giraffes and elephants and hardly an English magazine or newspaper in sight. But the bar is open and one way or the other, I’m getting my N$150’s worth out of this ‘business lounge’. Even if I have to crawl onto the plane.


Monday, August 24, 2009

But I'm not Catholic?

I'm not Catholic. But I may as well be considering the huge amount of guilt I carry with me all the time. About everything. And anything. Name a topic and I can show you how guilty I feel about it and how in some way or another I'm responsible for it. Drought in Africa. Sure, that's partly me. Here's how.

I refused to adhere to water restrictions imposed by the City of Cape Town back in the summer of '07. (It doesn't quite have the ring of '69 to it.) Instead of watering my garden on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I did it on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It just worked better for me. But now I believe that disturbing the equilibrium of the Voelvlei Dam led to large parts of Africa being deprived of water. And I'm to blame. The guilt is terrible.

Another thing I often feel guilty about is earning a good salary. It just doesn't seem right when we are not only going through the worst recession but the majority of South Africans still don't know the luxury of three meals a day. Every day. Not just once in a while. So while the institution who provides me with banking services have been sucking me dry the last 18 months or so, I've always felt too bad taking it up with them. Because they could take one look at their computer screen and tell me to bugger off after seeing what I earn every month. That I should be embarrassed to even walk into the bank and try and negotiate for lower bank charges. I should be grateful they don't increase my bank charges. And so on and so on.

After receiving my latest statement, I temporarily forgot about all of this and ranted and raved for hours. With nobody but the poodle to listen to me. Because I quickly added up what they've deducted from me this month for debit orders (which I did not ask for, it is mandatory), withdrawals and even worse - deposits. The low life, pond scum fother muckers! How can you charge your client for putting money into their account? And does it have to be so much. I understand a bank is a business like any other but then reduce your sponsorships of rugby tournaments, the Scrabble Play Offs, Mrs Milk Tart 2009 or whatever the hell else they sponsor for the sake of CSI (Corporate Social Investment, not my other career choice). Now if this was Switzerland, you could probably ask for your salary to be paid in cash or Toblerone bars for all I care. But it would be safe enough for you to leave your money in a cupboard at home and use it as you see fit.

Unfortunately we so ever slightly have a crime problem in SA. Having even a R100 in your wallet will mean you either get robbed off it by some lowlife on the street or you will have a Jo'burg Metro Cop relieve you of it as a result of a spot fine. The offence can range from not wearing your seat belt to talking on your phone or having a perfectly roadworthy vehicle with a WP sticker on the bumper. We therefore use ATM's all the time and to charge you for every transaction based on the amount of money you withdraw, is bullshit. Why is it more expensive to withdraw R500 than R200? Because the little guy in the ATM counting the money has to count an extra millisecond. What a joke. And then you still have to count your money because suddenly you find more and more ATM's where the incorrect amounts are being dispensed. Not to mention the fact that my credit card got stuck in the ATM the other day and it took them 15 minutes to get it out and back to me. Not before I had to identify the card, myself and practically leaving a urine sample and some blood.

In this happy state of mind I decided to set off to the bank, with all my arguments in place. For a brief moment I considered putting on an adult nappy, remembering what the last outing on a Saturday was like. Standing in a queue to speak to a consultant only to have to give up your place 3 hours later due to a weak bladder. With more than enough bravado I enter the bank and to my pleasant surprise, walk straight into the bank manager's office. Yes, the manager because there was no consultant on duty. And immediately launch into a diatribe about bank charges and what I've been paying . Before I can continue, the manager stops me with a simple 'This is ridiculous, you should be paying R200 less.' With one sentence she shuts me up and I sit there, simply staring at her with my mouth half open.

It turns out that I could have saved R2400 this last year had I gone to the bank and negotiated a better package. In this case, I didn't even negotiate, I simply showed up. In 10 minutes all the relevant documents were completed and I walked out R200 richer every month. I was beyond pleased with myself. And then the guilt set in. How can I be part of a system that lets you pay less the more you earn? Surely that isn't right? I earn more money so I can afford to pay more for services provided by my bank. And maybe it is because of people like me that our economy is in dire straits. The people who can afford to pay bank charges are not paying that much after all.

That was Saturday. Today I found out my dog has a hernia and needs expensive surgery to scrape her teeth clean. Which has nothing to do with the hernia but it still needs to get done. My car is going in for a service tomorrow and thanks to the pot holes with a bit of road in between in Gauteng, the alignment needs to be done again. So between minty fresh breath for my hernia free dog and a perfectly aligned car, the bank can go and stuff itself. Today. Tomorrow. Not Together.

Friday, August 14, 2009

CSI Jo'burg

There is no denying that Jo'burg is a dangerous place to live in. The mere thought of moving here last year left me with many a sleepless night. If I had to compare myself to any character from recent films, it would be the extra employed to provide a bit of comic relief but who then gets killed off providing even more comic relief. Or possibly eliciting some sympathy but not for long.

I am street smart to a degree. But how much is street smarts going to help you when you get assaulted in a parking lot because you took some plastic plaything's parking space? No, I seem to be a magnet attracting all sorts of weird and wondrous things towards my life. If you've read some of my previous blogs, you may remember my gripes about everything from poor service to being surrounded by stupid people (remember Herr Dumm). As annoying as it is, to a degree I can live with it. Because at no point did it actually affect my personal well being.

Yesterday I was reminded why Jo'burg is a dangerous city to live in. The head office I'm based at is in an industrial part of Jo'burg. It's surrounded by mine dumps (why don't you people do something with these things?), panel beaters and a rather large depot dispatching beer. It's not the most visually attractive location but it is central and up to yesterday, seemingly quite safe.

Picture this. Johannesburg. 2009. (I've been watching endless hours of The Golden Girls). The morning started off with a sinister chill in the air, a chill that has been absent for a good 10 days. I should have known that it was a warning. A warning to steer clear from the office, clearance sales and eating Russian Specials from the take-away up the road. But I fought off the sinister feeling creeping up my spine and seeping into my bones. It took immense bravery on my part but I got in my car and drove to the office. I am Legend.

It's a Thursday. No real relevance to the story other than to provide you with as much useless detail as possible. I was typing away when the co-worker from hell decided to blast the fire alarm horn type thing right in front of my door. Fire! After coming close to soiling myself, I grabbed my handbag, both my cellphones, my keys and an apple. Just in case we were left outside for a prolonged period and I got hungry. Doing exactly what you are not supposed to do during a fire drill. Needless to say, said annoying co-worker kept blasting the horn. I suppose when all you have to do to fill your working day is stare at your computer screen, the chance to be in charge of alerting your colleagues of a fire drill must be exhilarating. I just wanted to kick him in his fire hose. I'm still partially deaf in my right ear.

We evacuated in 1 minute and 55 seconds. Impressive, I thought. Until I realised that it probably would've taken longer if more people were at the office. They must have had the same sinister chill penetrating their bones that morning and decided to stay home. The yellow bellied cowards.

Slowly we filed back into the office. I barely had a chance to start eating my apple. The idiotic co-worker with his horn in hand was grinning from ear to ear. I could've kicked him again at that point. Sadist. Who cares about Occupational Health and Safety rules considering what happened next?

On a visit to the bathroom (again, courtesy of the idiot with the horn and 6 glasses of water), I spotted something lying next to the photocopier. Why I looked at the floor at that point in time I still don't know. I suspect that I was channeling Gil Grissom, ace investigator in CSI Las Vegas. I picked up the small, copper object and to my surprise discovered it was a bullet. I couldn't believe my eyes. As I told my colleagues about it, one of them exclaimed that there was a small hole in the ceiling directly above her desk. And that when she arrived at work that morning, she spotted bits of ceiling and paint chips all over her desk. She thought it was just shoddy workmanship and didn't think too much of it. But I immediately knew something was up. We just discovered the entry point for the mysterious bullet. I walked to her desk and immediately spotted where the bullet scorched her desk. Putting myself in the place of the bullet, I saw where it bounced off the filing cabinet and ended up at the photocopier. My colleagues sat in stunned silence. My skillful analysis left them amazed. I wasn't even myself anymore at that point. I had become Gil Grissom.

After getting half the office trampling all over my crime scene, the bullet was identified as a 9mm. And that there was drag racing in the road running past the office the previous night around 22:00. I deduced that it was quite possible that in the chaos and mayhem of the racing, a bullet was discharged by some unsavoury character associated with drag racing. Anybody who think these guys actually look like Paul Walker from The Fast and the Furious is a bigger idiot than Mr. Fire Hose 2009. No, they represent the underbelly of souped up cars and nitrogen tanks strapped to VW Beetles. At least, that's my analysis and I'm sticking to it.

Moving all the jokes to one side for a few seconds, it is frightening that a bullet could penetrate the exterior of the roof, go through admittedly a rather thin ceiling, scorch part of a desk and land up at a photocopier. The poor lady occupying that particular desk felt rather shook up. Had it happened during the day, she would've died instantly from a horrible, freak accident. Jo'burg is a dangerous place to live in. No argument there.

Back to the lighter side of things, I'm ready for a career in forensics. The ease with which I discovered the bullet and traced its path led me to believe that I can give top SA cop, Piet Byleveld, a run for his money. I mulled over this incident for most of yesterday and last night. My extraordinary detective skills overwhelmed me. I could be of much better use working for the SAPS than where I'm at now. I also realised at around 03:00 this morning that there may be a dead guy in the ceiling.

He'll just have to stay there. I'm Gil Grissom, not the poor sod who gets dispatched to go and recover the body. I'm finally the lead character in my own show.

Friday, July 31, 2009


It has been a long time since I posted something. Which is rather ironic given today's post. The subject of punctuality.

I've never understood why stores open late. Given that their trading hours are proudly displayed on the store's window/door/awning and website. When there's the required stock taking or staff training, this is not so much an issue. You usually find a polite note on the door stating that the store will be opening later than normal. No, I'm talking about plain tardiness. I don't care what the reason is that the store opens late. Years ago at Cape Tech, there was a lady in my class who got up 3 hours before she had to be at class. She had to walk for 45 minutes to get a taxi to take her to the train station where she had to fight to find a place on the train before disembarking at the station in Cape Town and walk another 15 - 20 minutes to Cape Tech. Or now the posh Cape Peninsula University of Technology. CAPUT as I refer to it.

The point is, Lulu was never late. Not once in the two years we were in class together. Never mind the fact that she was 45 and stuck with a bunch of 18-year old kids whose biggest challenge was to find the next tequila train you could join on a Wednesday night. She is a formidable woman and although my mom taught me the importance of punctuality, Lulu gets the credit for me never, ever arriving late. There is just no excuse.

Two weeks ago I got invited by the Kugel from Primrose to join their Sunday lunch. Sunday lunch at the Kugel's place is always a treat. In fact, every meal I've been invited to has been a gastronomical delight. But I started feeling bad about always being the one to bring the wine or a dessert acquired from Woolies. No, the time had arrived to offer to bake a pudding for Sunday lunch. Along with some wine just in case the pudding is a disaster. I started planning in earnest and decided on a baked chocolate pudding. Simple enough yet if executed correctly, decadent and chocolaty.

For days I poured through all my recipes books. I do have quite a few even if I hardly use them. I love paging through them and salivate over the recipes. And then close the book and heat something from Woolies. Go figure. Eventually I found a recipe in Rebel Cook and decided that it offered the right combination of manageable ingredients and execution yet with a very impressive end result to show for your efforts. I did the shopping required and thought I had it all covered. Until I discovered the Saturday night before the Big Baking Project, that I don't have anything in my house to measure grams with. And that 30ml and 30g is not the same. Unless it is water. Like a true yuppie I whipped out the 3G card and the laptop and tried to Google my way towards baking salvation. Alas, it wasn't to be. Slowly it dawned on me that I probably need to acquire a scale, the only way to solve my predicament. And then the stress started building. It meant having to go on a Sunday morning to the nearest shopping centre at 9 and acquire the scale, a sieve and an ovenproof dish to bake the dessert. It takes 30 minutes to prepare the dessert and an hour to bake it. I said I would be at the Kugel's place at 11. It was going to be close. But possible.

I woke up early on Sunday morning, anxious about getting my baking equipment. I had already sourced my scale the day before and established that it was @ a home ware store - quite a well known one. By 08:50 I was standing in front of the store and patiently waiting for them to roll up their door at 09:00. By 09:02 I was getting antsy. By 09:05 I started sweating. I was losing valuable minutes. Despite pacing up and down in front of the store and staring at the staff, there was no movement from the manager to open the door. He kept addressing his staff with his back turned to me. Eventually the door was opened at 09:12. I stormed past him half expecting an apology but his silence haunts me until today. After finally finding the scale (how stupid of me to ask one of the sales assistants to point me in the right direction, they assist sales not customers) I dash up to the counter to pay. Only to find them unable to process credit card transactions automatically, their systems are down. After the inevitable 'Do you have any cash on you' question, I almost lunged across the counter and assaulted the man. I was beyond gatvol at that point. It was 09:45 before I eventually got home and could start baking. I ended up being late for the lunch but the dessert was thankfully a success.

It's a well documented fact that service in South Africa is not to the standard it should be. Especially not with a major sporting event taking place next year bringing in hundreds of thousands of tourists. Now I do understand that the average football supporter will probably not be fazed by a home ware store opening 12 minutes late. But this is sadly not the only store guilty of 'punktuality.' Simply put, 'punktuality' is when idiots or punks cannot perform their duties and allow stores to open late.

You may think the blog is over and you can release yourself from this diatribe. But wait, there's more. This morning I needed to go to my local pharmacy to get my prescribed nasal spray. I cannot function without it in winter. My delicate Cape nasal passages rupture every morning thanks to the dry, polluted Gauteng air. Which leads to nosebleeds and the possibility of my neighbours slowly becoming convinced that I'm snorting coke. I know the pharmacy opens at 08:00 so I'm there at 07:57. Only to stand outside along with a rapidly forming queue of mothers with sick children waiting in not so quiet desperation for the pharmacy to open. The lady eventually arrives at 08:10 and again, not a single apologetic word is offered to any of us standing there. The pharmacist is covered in cat hair and there is no wedding ring to be spotted. Considering she is on the wrong side of 55, I assume she is single with cats as her company and lots of them. So what could possibly be her excuse for not arriving on time! Fluffy, Muffy and Whiskers suffers from separation anxiety and couldn't bear to let her go? What if I needed chronic medication such as blood pressure tablets or diet pills? I could've suffered a heart attack or gained another kilogram while I was waiting for her to show up. Forget Grease, punktuality is the word!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

David versus Goliath and his whole f*&%@ng family

Even if you don't have any religious beliefs, at some point you would've heard the story of David versus Goliath. If not, then you are clearly a heathen on the fast track to hell. Sies man. But I'm not discriminating. If you really don't know what I'm talking about then to briefly summise:

Young boy named David is sent to fight a great warrior named Goliath
So, kind of like McCauley Culkin in his Home Alone days versus The Undertaker (if you watch wrestling which I absolutely don't by the way)
All the odds are on Goliath to pulverise young David.
But David is armed with courage, a pure heart and a slingshot.
He takes careful aim and hits Goliath on the forehead and it's game over
The underlying moral of the story - sometimes the little guy can stick it to the big guys and walk away with heads held high. Or that in some cases it pays to throw rocks at other people. A message clearly still taken to heart today in this country.

Why the Sunday school lesson? I can't quite remember what I was going to rant about this morning. Oh yes, here goes.

This past weekend I was inspired by three great achievements in the world of T20 cricket. First, the Dutchmen gave it all they got and batted England back to the Stone Henge's, I mean Ages. The headline the next day in one of the English dailies was classic. Clogs -1 Clots - 0. Ouchie. Then next up the West Indies took on the mighty Dingoes and thrashed them so viciously that poor Ricky Ponting looked on the verge of tears and about to call his Doppelganger, little Bush for advice.

To make mattes worse, they were sent packing last night by a bunch of guys who drink tea instead of beer to unwind. Yup, the Sri Lankans packed the Dingoes' bags and pretty much dispatched them on Poor Sods Airlines out of the tournament.

In light of all this, I woke up this morning feeling ready to take on the world. The little guy (me) were going to take on the evil, giant corporation (our pay TV service provider) and get matters sorted once and for all. For the last 10 days I've been threatening to call or worse, sabotage a few satellite dishes. But felt that it was worthless and pointless to take on a mighty empire that is the provider of 24 hour cartoons - the ultimate luxury. Given the past weekends sporting achievements though, I felt inspired and that perhaps I was sent a message by the spirit of the late, great David.

I started by phoning the customer service department and got to chat to a very charming automated voice person thingy. He is sweet but didn't understand a bloody word I was saying. Clearly the Dutchman in me befuddled his Henry Higgins trained ear for Queen's English. After hitting the # key repeatedly I eventually got to speak to a real person. Big mistake. This brother was not charming and even worse, he talked back to me. After trying to explain to him that my account couldn't be in arrears because it is automatically deducted from my salary every month, he decided to put me through to their commercial department. What on earth does the commercial department do? I didn't want to run an ad for blood pressure medication. I simply wanted the error message on my TV to go away and stop harassing me for a payment already made. On time. Every month.

Then I got to chat to a woman. Who is befuddled by my dilemma and puts me on hold for 6 minutes. I know because my phone keeps a call log. She eventually returned after having gone to the loo, making a cup of coffee and catching up on last night's Isidingo episode. With a half hearted apology for putting me on hold while she was trying to find somebody who could help me. Eventually she asked me to phone x number. At that point I had a mild stroke and told her that it is the same number I've just called. WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU PEOPLE DOING!!!! After much debate between her and her colleagues, I was given another number to phone.

This time I got to speak to a very nice lady who immediately knew what I was talking about. But alas, she still didn't know why I kept getting an error message when my account was up to date. She eventually admitted that she didn't know how to fix this problem. I was fine with that, at least she was being honest. She gave me her word that my satellite service wouldn't be disconnected during the Johnny Bravo marathon on tonight. Fabulous. Because in saying that to me, she just made it a sure thing that I won't be able to watch TV tonight. And I was also hoping to catch the 500 richest bitches and their owners on the E Channel.

In conclusion, the little guy takes on the big guys daily. Sometimes they win and rewrite history. I'm sure Erin Brockovich rings a bell. But most of the time you lose. And you won't rewrite history. Nobody will know who you are. But your recorded calls to the customer service centres across this nation will become legendary. Employees will be trained on how to be a better service representative based on the calls of Boermeisie. That in itself is a noble cause and I will keep fighting the good fight.

I'm running out of rocks though.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

From One Extreme To Another...

Well, if there's one thing I've learnt in the last day or so, it is that you should never mess with Murphy. The one the law is named after. Having had no water yesterday, I now have more than enough of it.

I received a phone call from my neighbour yesterday afternoon at work. Very calmly he told me that the tenant in the apartment above me, left a tap running and proceeded to flood his entire apartment. To the point where water was cascading down the stairs in a manner which would've made Vic Falls look like a trickle. Thankfully he knew where the emergency water shut off was and shut it down. But he suggested that I should come home and see if everything is in order in my apartment.

Needless to say, I left in a rush and charged back home in a manner which would've made the most lawless taxi driver proud. I'm talking driving in the emergency lane with hazards on, incessant hooting and the odd 'Get the hell out of my way' being flung out the window. I even passed a metro cop along the way but thankfully he was pulled over with a flat tyre and could proceed in a high speed chase. Because that would've been the cherry on the cake. My only hope then would be that the apartment was indeed flooded and that he would drown in the ensuing pursuit.

I was beyond flapping. I had visions of my beloved paintings and dvd collection being drenched. Along with my lovely kelims and all other electronic gadgets. Not to mention the horrible thought that the love of my life may have drowned in the process. Considering that she sleeps for 23 out of the 24 hours of the day and nothing gets her out of this stupor, not even my arrival at home in the afternoon. Either that, or that she woke up in time and was furiously paddling around the apartment trying to stay afloat. With her lovely coat reduced to an unsightly frizz. Oh the drama. If only I made her wear her little life jacket before I left for work that morning.

I arrive at the complex and manage to narrowly miss driving through the security boom and gate. With reckless abandon I exceed the 10km per hour speed limit in the complex by 90km and arrive with screaming tyres in front of the block I stay in. My neighbour is already standing outside, waiting for me. Expecting the worst, I unlock the door and expect to be washed away at the same time. And oh joy, everything is in pristine order. The love of my life is still passed out on the couch, dry and frizz free. More importantly, nothing seems to be leaking from the ceiling and other than the lights flickering a bit when I switch them on, there are no damage. I'm so relieved that I could cry at that moment. Until I remember the reason for the panic in the first place. And go from relieved to bedonnerd in 3 seconds flat.

The moron living above me finally shows up at about 19:00. I wisely stay inside my apartment in case I want to assault him with a mop. When I hear that the clean up operation is in full swing upstairs, I decide to take the pooch for a walk. I'm still fuming and considering leaving a strongly worded post-it note on his door. Which would allow me only 2 words, you can guess which two I was considering. But my anger quickly turned into hysterical laughter as I for the first time since he moved into the complex in February, notice the bakkie he drives. Which is clearly a company vehicle. And said company...


You couldn't make this stuff up even if you wanted to.