When I abandoned religion all those years ago, I believed that I had also discarded my susceptibility to emotional weakness, and thus the ability to hate. So, over the years I kept telling myself that the revulsion and anger I felt towards certain things, was just a feeling of annoyance…not hate.
However, recently I’ve had to admit that I really actually hate politicians, the law (as in the police)…………. and trucks. Yes trucks, as in vehicles that transport freight (and in South Africa, everything else imaginable).
It’s really easy to hate politicians; in fact it’s an obligation for all intelligent South Africans. But how can one hate trucks? It seems so pointless to hate an inanimate object which cannot feel your hatred, much less amend its objectionable behaviour to appease you. It would make more sense to hate the drivers and owners of trucks, than the trucks themselves. But as a motorist on South African roads, confronted with yet another truck that’s broken down and holding up traffic, it’s natural to think out loud, “Damn truck!” or more likely scream out loud “I fucking hate trucks!” I’m pretty sure nobody shouts out “Damn driver!” or “I hate that fucking driver of that fucking truck and maybe the fucking owner too!” Okay, this is South Africa, so there’s bound to be one or two who would, but they’re as irrelevant as those who love politicians, or the police who shoot to kill.
Taxis are pretty annoying; lots of people probably hate them too, but they don’t come to a complete halt for hours on end, across two whole lanes, backing up traffic for hours. Which happens with freakish regularity, several times a day (not the same truck, obviously), usually in peak traffic in the mornings and afternoons. And if they’re not broken down, they are either travelling too slow in the wrong lane, have lost their load on the road (for some reason beer is a very popular load to lose), or the idiot driver is trying to overtake another slow truck…on an incline of all places.
So why do trucks break down with such frequency? Are they badly designed? Are truck drivers as reckless with their trucks as politicians are with our tax money or South African cocks cops with their guns?
I suspect it has something to do with the maintenance of these vehicles. Since the state-owned rail freight company hiked its tariffs all those years ago, almost everything is being transported by road these days. And the owners and operators in a highly competitive trucking industry are literally cutting each others throats for business, resulting in hardly anything being budgeted for maintenance of the trucks. What we have then is poorly maintained trucks on our roads which naturally break down at the most inconvenient of times.
What about the other annoying truck related incidences on our roads. Trucks that lose their loads, probably do so because of overloading, poor maintenance or simply through negligence in securing the freight. Why do truck drivers think that they can overtake on an incline without hogging the road and annoying the hell out of other motorists? Who knows? They’re truck drivers, not engineers.
The solution to this problem is very simple. The enforcement of steep fines for trucks that break down. I suggest that fines be as high as R10 000 for a first incident and then climbing dramatically for subsequent infringements by the same owner or operator. If you consider the lost time and productivity that these breakdowns cause to the economy, the frustration and even personal losses sustained by other motorists when they miss flights, important appointments, even job interviews, I think the fines are an imperative. It would teach the owners to look after their shit.
The other benefit of hefty fines for truck owners, is that the traffic cocks cops don’t have to harass ordinary motorists as much as they do, to generate revenue for their Metro Council employers. So with all that extra dough coming in from the errant trucking industry, it would leave fat-arsed traffic cocks cops free to lose weight or do some real work. So instead of lazing in the shade of a tree, or behind a bush, (c)overtly manning speed cameras all day long, they could actually actively manage traffic safety.