Grunt 11 Desember 2013

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 Last Saturday, we went to a lovely family wedding. It was pretty much everything a wedding should be. But, for us, there was a major problem: it was in Gauteng. Now, there’s a living hell on earth, if ever there was one. With the Gautrain, e-tolls, and umpteen thousand of the planet’s most aggressively reckless drivers, what more could you wish for? Life in the fast drain? (No. The last word isn’t mis-spelt.)
On Saturday morning, we took ourselves off to Mandela Square for a late breakfast and an unhurried mosey around one of the better-stocked bookshops there. So, we arrived and parked the car in what appeared to be a new parking garage. When I say new, I mean it wasn’t there the last time we were obliged to visit.
Folks were purchasing books on every abstruse topic imaginable. Nonetheless, one male was overheard being particularly insightful: "I’m so glad they’ve still got some sale books. Christmas presents at 30% off. Isn’t that great? Of course, you have to remember to remove the discount sticker before you wrap them. And there’s still some okay wrapping paper there in the sale bin."
However, the major shock came when we went back to the car. The parking garage turned out to belong to the Gautrain system, although there were no signs to indicate that. Having got directions as to where to pay, and having wound back and forth through the maze-like building, we eventually arrived at the cashier. We’d been parked for four hours. "That’ll be one hundred rand." Flat statement. Stony impatient face. I was astounded into silence, so she explained: "After the first fifteen minutes, that’s the flat rate for any period thereafter. Same price. One hundred rand." I asked if that got me shares in the company. "That’ll be one hundred rand." Same stony impatient face. She seemed like one of those lifelike humanoid Japanese robots. "Next!" she called. I had to pay.
E-tolls and the Gautrain constitute outrageous forms of legitimised highway robbery. Fancy a lift on my tandem? Oh, by the way: you’re pedalling!
Tony Ullyatt