The brutal struggle of urban existenceApr 27
Today is a public holiday in the rainbow nation. No, I’m not entirely sure which one nor do I have the inclination to find out. To add to the cluster fu… frenzy at the malls, it is also raining; this is significant since the population of Johannesburg immediately lose the ability to drive or think when H20 falls from the sky in any quantity.
We met with some of the family for breakfast at the local mall this morning for my mother in-law’s birthday. Luckily this was quite early, before the majority of the unwashed masses arrived to do whatever it is they do at malls on public holidays.
After breakfast my wife received a phone call from her optometrist saying that her new glasses were ready for collection, at an altogether different mall.
I went cold.
We would have to fight our way through a mass of savages to leave Northgate (Mall ‘A’), fight our way through psychotic traffic, packs of wild taxi drivers and a light drizzle, just to fight our way through a different horde barbarians to get to the optometrist in Clearwater Mall (Mall ‘B’). Also, we would have to find parking. My eyes nervously searched the surrounding tables for a spare anti-psychotic.
Anybody with any sense would be able to explain to you that it is, in fact, not possible to find parking at Mall ‘B’ on a public holiday. Not. Possible.
Arriving at Mall ‘B’ physically unscathed yet mentally scarred, I dropped my wife at the door and proceeded to find parking. After 20 minutes I gave up, let go of my dignity, crushed my last remaining ethical principle and joined the lawless masses. I parked illegally. Even now, hours later, I am still ashamed.
Luckily things went well at Mall ‘B’ and we were soon ready to commence the battle for the exit, sizing up the shifty eyed barbarians who clearly had similar thoughts, waiting in the sizeable queue at the parking pay point.
I could feel the murderous glares burning into my neck as I waited for the machine to print a receipt. I always request a receipt when I pay for parking: a) it costs those thieving bastard parking operators money and b) it’s much easier to fight your way through the boom if you can prove you really have paid to get out. This takes a perilous 10 extra seconds…
When finally we made it back onto the open road, alive but breathing heavily from the strain of wet weather Jo’burg combat driving, my wife spoke words of doom:
“I’m hungry”, she said.
“Nooooooooooooo”, I thought, but said, instead, “So, what do you feel like”.
“Oh, let’s get some McDonald’s”, she said.
OK, I must admit, I wasn’t as fearful as a reasonable, clear thinking person would have been, fatigued as I was, from hours of precarious hand to hand combat with the uncouth hordes that inhabit malls on days like this.
My blasé attitude to buying McDonald’s in the rain on a public holiday was soon crushed. There were savages everywhere, in every direction. The parking lot was full, the restaurant was full, no space in any direction around the McDonald’s, for miles.
We joined the drive through queue.
I have heard a legend that says there exists a McDonald’s, somewhere, that serves drive through customers in 90 seconds or less. I laugh at such idiocy.
Before I could stop her, my wife utters the accursed words:
“Well, I hope they’re on the ball today at least”.
“Aaaaarrrrrrggggggghhhhhhhhhh”, my mind screams as I feel the Universe twist to stab me in the eye. I distantly feel my mouth utter:
“Oh, it doesn’t look like it’s moving”.
The queue was so long that we were parked in such a way as to slightly inconvenience other cars trying to enter the McDonald’s premises. Slightly inconveniencing a person in Jo’burg is a life endangering activity. From the many glares we received from people having to turn a little earlier than precisely convenient just hammered the fact home that our lives were hanging by a thread.
As the minutes ticked by, the queue slowly inched forward. At one point, as much as half a car length.
Directly in front of us was a couple in a blue Citi Golf. They seemed unable to grasp the concept of inching along, which infuriated my wife and I. The fools in front of us were not in danger; WE, who were blocking the entrance, were in mortal danger. This was causing us to desperately want to not be where we were, but rather about half a car length forward.
The queue moved, the blue Golf did not. Soon there was an entire car length open in front of the Golf and still it did not move.
The rage in my wife was a sobering sight to behold. I had to physically restrain her from exiting the vehicle and assaulting the poor fool in the Golf. The man barely escaped with his life and doesn’t even know it.
Eventually, he did move. My wife relaxed a bit. I breathed a bit easier.
We were now parallel to the McDonald’s building. Again, the cars inching forward, again, the gap between the blue Golf and the car before it growing.
“Bloody idiot”, screams my wife. “Doesn’t he understand there are other people trying to get in”, “So damn inconsiderate, I hate people like him”.
“Yes”, I rage, “bloody idiots like that shouldn’t be allowed to drive”. The stress was beginning to get to us.
There was now nothing but empty space in front of the blue Golf, the queue having moved around the turn to the right.
I heard a sharp inhalation of breath as my wife prepared to release another tirade, now from an open window…
The passenger door of the blue Golf opened and a… plump young lady of perhaps 18 years… daintily… exited the vehicle and walked towards us.
“Shit”, I thought.
She then proceeded to stand behind the Golf, put both her hands on the boot, leant forward and pushed it with all her might. She pushed the blue Golf through the drive through and into an available parking space like a champion car wrangler, effortlessly.
If we weren’t so very confused, we would probably have laughed harder; the sight of that not insubstantial behind pushing the car through the drive through was funny, very, very funny.
The moral of the story is, don’t assume anything. Sometimes, people have valid excuses for behaviour that may on the surface appear very ‘assholeish™’.