By Danie Botha
I’ve been struggling to decide on what to moan about this month.
The morning school run presented me with an early favourite: parents who drive with their kids standing on the front passenger seat without any form of restraint. And that’s while said parent is securely buckled up. I’d say that should qualify as an attempted murder charge.
Next, I got stuck in heavy traffic. That’s when I thought I should rather complain about the complete lack of respect and discipline on our roads.
Remember when only minibus taxis blatantly ignored the rules of the road? Well, everyone seems to be doing it now. I watched as two metro police vehicles (a minibus and a truck) pushed into the front of the queue at a busy intersection, setting a brilliant example to the rest of us frustrated motorists.
In the office I switched on the computer, and the e-mails started downloading. Curiously the “junk e-mail” folder was filled by an unusually large number of mails. Obviously I clicked on this folder.
The subjects included the following: Become a sex magnet in your neighbourhood; So hard you can break an egg; This is totally unbelievable; Women love well-hung men. Yep, my computer was being attacked by penis enlargement-contraption-or-stuff trolls.
After briefly entertaining the thought of breaking an egg on a hard surface, and realising that there were no fresh eggs in the kitchen, I moved on to the news websites.
Some highlights: Gay groom sent to jail after fight with mother-in-law. King Mswati picks his 15th wife. Mythical sea creature captured on film. E-tolling by year-end, says minister. Sleeping man shot 18 times.
Then the power went off. Great.
So I got back into the car and aimed for a local restaurant for a breakfast.
I cunningly decided to avoid all the major roads because traffic lights don’t work so well without volts. As I approached the first four-way stop, a car drove straight through the intersection at 60km/h, not even slowing down, as the norm used to be.
At the restaurant I tried to phone a colleague but the call dropped twice. I could hear him the third time, but he could not hear me. So I sent him an SMS which, amazingly, went through.
Since I’m a technologically minded person, I checked my smart phone for e-mails. Ah, there were two: A notice that SARS needed a big old payment from me, and the electricity bill.
The unfriendly waitress brought my coffee. This substance seemed to have been made with the water I had seen running out of a burst pipe next to the road.
My phone actually rang. Unfortunately, due to the month-long strike in the automotive industry, a test vehicle we had planned to use for a shoot is no longer available.
My phone rang again. It was the finance lady from my daughter’s school. As always she was extraordinarily rude, asking about a payment.
Working down that horrible cup of broken water pipe coffee, visions of myself hugging a few Koala bears in the land of Aussie, learning the haka courtesy of some Maori warriors and a little house on the prairie, in the American countryside, became more vivid than ever before.
But then I picked up the newspaper and turned to the international section. And I read about the horrors the ordinary citizens of Syria have to endure, the tragedy of the terrorist attack in Kenya in the name of religion, the US government shut-down because of a dispute in that “perfect” democracy’s congress, and the natural disasters in other parts of the globe.
I also remembered people I’ve met on our travels, far away from the big cities. People who don’t expect much, because they probably don’t know what they are missing. People who live day-to-day and meal-to-meal but have a friendly smile on their faces, rain or shine.
Life is not perfect. But we do live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with a lot more good people than bad. We also have space, sport, some infrastructure in the cities and traffic lights that work at least 50% of the time, two oceans, Kruger, lots of cool 4×4 trails, great camping places. Capetonians will also claim to have a mountain, but that’s just because they haven’t been to Lesotho yet. Oh yes, and we have the braai.
Our country is far from perfect. But it still beats Koala bears, Maori toyi-toying and a little house on the prairie. Oh yes, it does.