Rules and questions on hunting for spares
ONCE a decade this is, I find, up comes a day of irritating runaround, catching up on overdue chores and chasing wild geese in the form of indefinable spare parts for outmoded domestic machinery.
Strict rules apply to this kind of day: Rule 1: Your missing part doesn’t have a serial number, your supplier has to see it. Rule 2: Your most likely supplier miraculously happens to be a five-minute drive away. Rule 3: When he unearths the back of his storeroom, he finds only the version that is 4mm too big and the version that is 3mm too small. Rule 4: He’s pretty sure that his cousin’s stepmom’s brother-in-law, Piet, has your version. Rule 5: Piet is in Randfontein. Rule 6: Piet has exactly the right size but in British Standard Fine thread where your fitting is American National Coarse. He gets on the phone and, after a series of exchanges in a foreign language called Sithifrican Squashedvowel Technogreek, whoops in triumph; yes, Imraan has the connector, ready and waiting for you at his place in Benoni.
There always used to be a Rule 7, that teeth grind increasingly ferociously and temper pushes ever higher into the red zone.
But this time, no. The first half of the odyssey, I’m too distracted. Column deadline is imminent and no beginning of a subject is in mind.
Then inspiration strikes like a huge red cartoon exclamation mark. For the second half I rejoice in having found column fodder – in my mission around the Reef.
Accordingly I ask: Question 1: Aren’t these Piet/Imraan networks that cover the Reef beautiful? And 1(a): Do they someday become Piet/ Imraan/Sipho networks? Question 2: What masochists South Africans on roads? To defend our right of way we squeeze up tight, preventing a side-street applicant from joining the stream. Then when tables are turned and some decent citizen lets us in, he makes our day, and our wave of thank you makes his, and we think well of him and his tribe and his upbringing and his values and his children.
Two minutes later we’re blocking someone again, often even though we risk none of our own time. Sometimes we astonish ourselves: “Why did I not let that guy in?!” I’d blame our mindset’s default – push, push.
In New York recently I was stunned that what had been a push-push mindset has switched.
Especially to pedestrians, it’s super gentle now. Do we come to a switching time? This century? Question 3: The posters are excited about the ending of Standard Bank’s brief reign of co-MDs. Sim Tshabalala has the hotspot to himself.
Some posters say: “Standard Sim rules alone.” Others: “Standard’s black CEO flies solo.”
One must ask (or at any rate I do ask), why the “black”? Yes, it was relevant in history and presumably even to this duality. But are we or are we not carving a nation of plain South Africans, unencumbered by the adjectives of old? Question 4: The car-guard industry is immense. Everywhere, including places where it seems unnecessary. A riddle question: Is it because it exists that it seems unnecessary; should we pay up happily for it being so successful that we think we don’t need it?
And, 4(a), A moral question because it’s convention to pay the car guard, the aristocrat provider of a service you didn’t ask for: Do we get unfair on seriously sad cases who have no bargaining chip?
Is our attitude towards them: Forget it, Sad Case, I’ve done my Third World taxes for the day?