While I was driving to work this morning some bigwig from some traffic-related department was informing the entire audience (estimated at three, as there are about that many people in Johannesburg right now) about how the Christmas road safety campaign was coming to an end. This will be followed by the Easter campaign in which punishment for reckless or drunk driving will be escalated significantly. If you get caught, there is a chance your licence will be taken away from you and you will have to start the process from scratch – learner’s permit through to the test.
I think this is an excellent idea. There are too many men out there with small penises who drive badly to compensate. And there are just as many sexually frustrated women doing stupid things. I don’t know if there is a relationship between the two, but hey, who knows?
But it also poses a serious problem. While passing your learner’s licence is relatively easy, getting the actual licence is a bit like going into Mordor.
The first challenge is reversing out of a parking. Anyone who has been driving for longer than six months will lose the ability of finding his or her own way out of a parking bay. This is because there is always a car guard around when you leave. And there is no avoiding them and their enthusiasm in showing you how to manoeuvre out of the space.
Another issue would be negotiating potholes. Over the past three years or so, most of the roads around South Africa have started to resemble the surface of the moon (if you can imagine a tar-coloured moon). If anyone can tell me what the correct procedure is for getting around or over a pothole when you’re doing a driving test I will make you a sandwich.
78% of licensed drivers do not know how to use their indicators. Apparently you need a degree in physics to flick a lever up or down. So, statistically only about 0.005% of people who have to redo their licence will be able to pass.
Therefore I would like to appeal to everyone to drive carefully. Lives will be saved, and even if you’re just a total jerk who doesn’t care, the administrative nightmare of getting a new licence is just not worth it.
Something unique and wonderful happened this year. The Easter long weekend was followed by a public-holiday-Wednesday and another long weekend. Easter weekend usually results in 85.7% of the Gauteng population heading towards the coast for a mini-break.
And I headed towards that little town I grew up in called Clarens. To get there I take the N3. And, unfortunately for me the N3 is the way to Durban.
So there were a lot of people on the highway and everyone was heading my way. This annoyed me, because I like to have my way and when other people interfere I get upset.
I got stuck in bad traffic.
When you’re driving 20km/h you have time to notice things. For example, the family with the heavily loaded car in front of me and their hamster. Yes, there are people who take their hamster to the coast on holiday. This means that either they don’t have an aunty to fill a food bowl or the hamster likes surfing. Either way, this poor hamster was packed up against the rear-windscreen and probably more distressed than I was at not having my way.
Then I did a little math. I was 40km away from the off-ramp I needed to take to get off the N3. Normally, that would take 15 or 20 minutes. But on 22 April 2011 it took me over an hour. It’s a good thing I had a sandwich and water with me, otherwise I may have died. Stopping at the One Stop was not an option.
Eventually I was off the highway. I looked back at the source of my torture and saw miles and miles of cars not reaching their holiday destinations. But it was okay, because I was in the Free State and there wasn’t much happening on the roads. I could drive without thinking about distressed hamsters and how many metres per hour I was driving.
And in certain pockets of South Africa, there really is nothing of interest.
And sometimes the roads lead to nowhere.
My trip back was fine. This was a good thing, because the following weekend meant I would be travelling to the bushveld.
I am not a sport fan. In fact, I find sport mind-numbing and boring. I have watched South Africa play in the rugby World Cup twice now and I can’t remember a single thing from either game. All I can remember is who I was watching with, that I was desperately bored and that I drank heavily during the second one just to make the time pass.
From day to day, I couldn’t care less about who’s winning, what series is going on and I’m thoroughly indifferent to the tabloid news on the scandalous lives many athletes live.
But I am pleased that my country gets to host the FIFA 2010 World Cup. Until the vuvuzelas became the latest fashion accessory (really, folks, it looks dumb no matter what you are wearing) and someone told a bunch of fools to blow them each and every Friday. Or just for the heck of it at 2am. Then some genius got a great idea to make a noise for a whole hour during the week and spread the news across the country. I wanted to crawl under my desk and die that day. It’s no lie: vuvuzelas can make a grown woman cry and I did in agony. It is not a pleasant sound at all.
The atmosphere in South Africa at the moment is incredible. There are flags everywhere: on cars, on houses, offices… Any surface that can be plastered with a flag will have one on. And then there are those silly mirror socks that looked dumb two months ago, but now I want at least four. It’s all very beautiful.
I am proudly South African and the excitement soon got to me. It can’t not. On Friday, 11 June 2010 I was bouncing with anticipation (and it was a half day). I had been invited to a Fan Fest at the Continental Outdoor offices, just 8km from my office and I was looking forward to watching the opening ceremony and enjoying the beer fountain I imagined would be there waiting for me.
Just to be clear, South Africa literally shut down at 13:00 on kick off day. This meant that EVERYONE was going SOMEWHERE. And most of those people seemed to be going where I wanted to be. It took me an hour to drive 8km.
Being stuck in traffic has never been so cool. And the sound of vuvuzelas started to grown on me. Imagine bumper to bumper traffic, flags flying, incredible noise and so much joy that the air was electric with anticipation. I rolled down my window just to feel it.
Sadly there wasn’t a beer fountain when I finally got to where I was going, but tubs of beer are the next best thing. Continental Outdoor definitely hooked us up. And I got a vuvuzela of my’ very own. I still can’t make it work though.
However, there are other things you can do with your vuvuzela.
Soccer is everywhere, even at work. There was a goal post outside with a tiny ring as a target. If you can kick the ball in, you win a hat. I gave it a shot, and missed. The ball almost went through backwards, which would have been great, but I don’t think it would have earned me a hat though.
The advertising manager of BMW owned it and walked away with two hats. She has mad ball skills and could consider a career move into coaching. That or she really likes hats.
A group of people started kicking a ball around and I thought about that “Make da Circle Beeger” song. Every time I looked that way, there were more players. And everyone was wearing yellow. I don’t wear yellow. I wore green and gold, and some girl said it was a cute jacket, so I guess it’s acceptable dress for a match.
Then it all started. Kick off, the big moment… And 30 seconds into the game I was bored. Justine and I started playing guess the age of the Mexican (12, 14, 52, 19) which is a lot of fun. It also kept our eyes on the screen, so when Tshabalala scored the first goal we were as dumbstruck as everyone else.
And then we started screaming. The entire country was screaming and vuvuzelas got a serious run for their money. There was dancing, and jumping, and hugs and wow… And I have my first sport memory. I will never forget that goal as long as I live. And Khune is a legend. The rest of the game is a bit of a blur. I was too worked up to focus much, but concentrating hard on the screen. It was unforgettable. It was awesome.
So what if we drew the match? It was a great way to start this month of madness. And I had a fantastic time. I still know nothing about soccer and I probably won’t be learning too much more because I can’t really be bothered. But I plan on watching every Bafana Bafana game, and I won’t take my supporters bracelet off until it’s over and everyone has gone back home.