Aggravation at an intersection

Fixing traffic light10 things that vex me to some degree or the other at traffic intersections, in decreasing order of annoyance.

  1. Traffic lights that don’t fucking work due to power-outs, poor maintenance or, idiots who have ridden them over.
  2. Impatient morons who take off before the traffic lights change, in order to get to the next set of RED traffic lights a few seconds before you.
  3. Traffic cops who lounge in their vehicles when they should clearly be directing traffic.
  4. People handing out flyers and pamphlets, especially when there’s a whole bunch of them queuing up to get to your car window, each with a different bill… and then to be faced with more of them with the same useless pieces of paper at the very next intersection, and the one after.
  5. Do-gooders (or not) collecting money for their churches or temples or other religious organization. Really people, if you’re going to be standing out in the hot sun collecting funds, then at least desist from trying so hard to convince me that prayer works.
  6. Hawkers selling cheap Chinese junk that nobody wants, but some are coaxed to buy in sympathy, and “support” informal trading. What kind of an idiot buys electronic products at an intersection? I really wouldn’t mind so much if they actually sold something useful. Fruit and vegetables aren’t too bad, except when they try to slip in some rotten apples in the carefully made-up packs.
  7. Students who don garish, often absurd outfits (men wearing tutus and dresses are common) and plead for money so that they can attend some sporting event, or go on vacation or some other pretence. Even worse, are the guys (and sometimes gals) who actually collect money to pay for their weddings. Why should I have to pay when I’m not even invited, so that you can impress your friends and family with a formal wedding which you can’t afford? True love means never having to splurge on a wedding… or something like that.
  8. People who insist on crossing the street after the traffic lights have changed, then stare angrily at motorists who now have right of way.
  9. Panhandlers who insist on washing your windscreen, after making it quite clear that you don’t need the “service.”
  10. Adults who beg. I honestly feel for you, but there’s just too many of you at too many intersections, all day, every day, and I really can’t support you indefinitely. I’m however quite happy to hand out loose change occasionally, when I do have some available.

Dumb-ass of the decade

I suppose it’s fair for people to think I have some sort of vendetta against arch-idiot, Julius Malema, leader of  a bunch of misfits known as the ANC Youth League. I can’t help it. The guy’s got both his feet so far into his mouth, you might catch a glimpse of his toes sticking out his fat arse; if you were unfortunate enough to be subjected to that ignominy off course.

Not a week goes by without him insulting us South Africans with his gross ignorance and spectacular lies, not to mention the outrageous contempt he displays for the institutions of law and order (what’s left of it) and even government (what little there is off it that actually works).

Just yesterday, he was at it again; this time regaling journalists with what can only be described as pure fabrications about his openly lavish lifestyle.

I live on handouts most of the time. If I don’t have food to eat, I can call Cassel Mathale [premier of Limpopo] and say: “Chief, can you help me? I’ve got nothing here.” I can call Thaba Mufamadi, I can call Pule Mabe [ANCYL treasurer general] or Mbalula. They all do the same with me. That’s how we have come to relate to each other.

Interesting choice of word, that – handout. If expensive cars, flashy jewelry, multi-million rand mansions, and extravagant parties, can be considered handouts, I wonder what those beggars standing at traffic intersections consider the few coins we reluctantly hand out to them? There are millions of dirt poor South Africans who could do with friends like Malema’s, and they must surely be cursing the gods or their ill luck for not hooking them up.

And if that previous statement don’t beat all for total absurdity, the following must surely be the clanger of the decade:

That’s why at times you can’t even see our poverty because we cover each other’s back. As comrades, we have always supported each other like that.

Ah yes, Julius the poverty that you and your ANC-government friends find yourselves in, is all too apparent. Thanks for pointing that out; we were all so blind for thinking that the only poverty you and the government suffer from, has to do with morals.

Yippee! It’s the season to be jolly!!!

I like this time of year; the winding down towards Christmas and a well-earned break for those of us who work for a living. The chance to spend time with family and friends far away; mostly family.

Everything seems to slow down gradually, much to the indignation of demanding bosses who have projects to complete; but they gradually get into the spirit as well. Not so for retail businessmen; they become busy little bees, and will sting you with their prices if you’re too much in the spirit, or if you’re too much into the spirits, as the case may be. And except around shopping malls, even traffic becomes easier. What a joy to drive to work and back, this time of year.

However, even crass commercialization has some appeal; a visual feast for the senses with christmas decorations nearly everywhere, feel-good christmassy music coming from shops and malls, fake fir trees in windows and aisles, multi-coloured lights flashing, and most importantly, people seeming more cheerful than at any other time of year. And what about the kids? They tend to become more manageable, although a slightly heavier burden on the wallet.

For us non-believers, all this hoo-ha over what was once a pagan festival, is supposed to be exasperating, but I find it all rather charming; amusing perhaps. I really enjoy the christmas carols, even if the words have no appeal or meaning for me. However, like most normal people, I do find Boney M slightly annoying, but Andrea Bocelli or Frank Sinatra singing carols, is a real delight for the senses.

And somehow, people become more generous too at this time of year. Those beggars standing at the traffic intersections usually get something extra, and even other less fortunate adults and children from miscellaneous charitable organizations, benefit. A real pity that Christmas doesn’t come at least once a month. Imagine how different the world could be, if Christmas was about people, rather than gods.

It’s really convenient for us all that the early Christians chose to commemorate Christmas around the time of the winter solstice, incorporating it with pagan festivals such as the Celtic Yule, the Roman Saturnalia and the solstice feast of Mithras, the Roman god of light which falls on 25 December,  just before New Year’s Eve, a traditional celebration for the Roman god, Janus. And not forgetting New Years Day, the traditional day for hang-overs. Yes, a wise decision to fit it in with happy, festive times.

Beggars can be Choosers

They’ve commandeered many traffic intersections in South Africa, so they’re not hard to miss on one’s daily commute to almost anywhere. It’s also not hard to miss the derision they are greeted with by a fairly large number of motorists. They appear singly, or in pairs – usually a reasonably fit person accompanying someone less so, but in some cases seemingly less so.

I am however not concerned with those who feign a handicap to garner sympathy from the public; after all, dishonesty is either innate or a means to an end. And since I consider moral absolutes to be undesirable, I will refrain from passing judgement on the motives for begging. What I am concerned about though, is the seemingly uncaring, disdainful attitude of the public towards these unfortunate people.

The harsh realities of the global economic downturn has resulted in a vast number of people losing their means of income, and has driven many of them into the streets to beg. Desperation can force people into doing things they would not normally do, and resorting to crime is regrettably one of more unpleasant kinds. Those you see standing at these traffic  intersections have made a choice – choosing to beg  instead of resorting to some form of crime. It’s not an easy choice to make, and I’m not going to pretend that I know how it feels; but I do know that it cannot be pleasant standing for hours in the harsh South African sun, hoping that someone will take pity on you.

I know you may argue that those of us still fortunate enough to be able to drive past these beggars on a daily basis, should not have to feel grateful that they beg for money, instead of simply taking it from us. I’ve heard comments such as “go get a job like the rest of us,” from those still fortunate enough to have one. But is it as simple as that? I’ve also heard that beggars make a good living plying their trade. But how do you know this really? It’s just hearsay.

The thing is, you don’t have to feel grateful that beggars choose to rely on your generosity instead of relieving you of your cash by some other means; but it would be nice. Parting with a few coins won’t make you poor, and it won’t make the begging problem disappear. It’s actually not going to do much good. But you were not meant to solve all the social problems in the world,  just not add to them. And being kind to your fellow-man is not that painful after all…