Monday, March 06, 2006

Worst Day Ever

It started off well enough- had enough time to make a nice cafe latte in the morning, and found the office building in Braamfontein easily enough after a few circles on a round-about. My business meeting went well and the day ahead was promising- 8 hours of work in Hyde Park at the wireless Seattle Coffee, then tea with Nicki, and attending a lecture on HIV and psychology at the Goethe Institute.

I leave Braamfontein, driving down Jan Smuts in the middle lane towards the affluent northern suburb of Hyde Park. I'm driving about 90--- it's a fast-moving road, but not a highway. Then, the car suddenly doesn't move and lurches forward. I'm officially stuck in the middle lane of a main Johannesburg traffic artery. Hazards go on, and I immediately phone Naughty (yes, that is his name) at Asshole Car (name changed to protect the innocent or not so innocent). "Hi Naughty, it's Ilana. You need to send someone like now. I'm stuck on Jan Smuts and people are hooting (beeping) like crazy."

Ten minutes later, no sign of rescue. Lots of kugels pass by in BMWs and Audis and no one even thinks of stopping or offering any assistance. The only people wanting to "help" are extremely scary looking. I am sitting in a locked car with the windows up. I think that most of the kugels who passed thought I was some sort of teen pregnancy/heroin addict/living in a cardboard box sort of person due to the unfortunate choice of vehicle I was driving. A 1986 Ford Laser. Not a typo--- 1986.

You see, I am in a bind. With the payment I make each month to Asshole Car, I could lease a new BMW 1-Series, but since I don't have South African permanent residency, no one will give me car insurance. Even if I bought a car for cash, I still couldn't insure it. Only Asshole Car! Asshole Car pretty much only rents to desperate foreigners with no other options...

So, I am still waiting for the Asshole guys to arrive. A minibus taxi driver starts hooting frantically at me to move. Hello, I am stuck. I can't move, hence the hazards. Move your pathetic red minibus around this 1986 Ford Laser. Mr. Driver emerges from the minibus and begins banging on the window really roughly and loudly. He does this for about five minutes. I then phone Naughty crying and tell him he better hurry up cause this taxi driver is insane. Naughty replies, "Wow, that is really ridiculous. I can't believe he's doing that." YES, I KNOW THAT IS RIDICULOUS. I wasn't phoning you for your condolences.

Mr. Driver finally gets bored of striking my window and gets back in the red minibus and drives away. Lots of kugels and kugel-lites seem intrigued by this situation, but won't even slow down since there must be something wrong if someone "like me" is driving a 1986 Ford Laser. It is inconceivable that I would choose to drive such an un-road worthy vehicle. I second that assessment!

Johannes finally arrives and gives me another vehicle. It appears to resemble a 1976 school bus. "Johannes, you've got to be kidding. I just paid you guys a fortune four days ago!" I enter the car-like object. "Johannes, does this actually drive? And there's no left-hand side mirror." It literally took about ten minutes to figure out if this vehicle-esque thing actually drove.

I take myself out for lunch and ignore my phone until Naughty calls. "Hey, are you feeling better now?" Yes, thanks so much for your concern. "So we solved the problem. A wire broke. We'll bring the car back tomorrow morning." How lovely.

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