Cry the beloved country

For years and years, this column has been devoted to matters concerning commercial vehicles; I’ve shied away from what we all call “dinky toys”. Not this month! My comments concern all road users – most notably car drivers…

I am both happy and sad. Happy because, as FIFA World Cup 2010 kicks off this month, many of the vehicles on our roads are flying the South African flag. Literally. Some people say those little flags and mirror covers are cheesy; I reckon that they are über-cool.

I’ve been faithfully wearing my Bafana Bafana jersey each and every Friday, ever since Football Fridays were first mooted. Okay… I lie. I have a gorgeous football jersey from the São Paulo Football Club – and I did wear that once. My point is that I have warmly embraced the FIFA spirit – just like thousands of road users. As a result, while continuing to dodge numerous potholes, I feel incredibly good about this country as I see our flag all over the show. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. It makes me want to live here forever.

But an incident that occurred as this issue was about to go to print made me feel differently.

I was driving back to the FOCUS office after a meeting when an old man leapt out in front of my car, gesticulating frantically. Rather apprehensively, I drove straight on.

Two seconds later, I felt bad. So I turned around and nervously approached his car. What if it was a ploy to hijack me? When I asked him what was wrong, he said his car’s battery had died and wondered if I had jumper cables (I don’t). He appeared quite stressed by his plight, so I vowed to find jumper cables – and off I trotted into the Cresta Shopping Centre parking lot.

What a disaster. Most people would not lower their windows. One woman almost ran me down – quite deliberately. She missed me – and the old man who was huffing and puffing next to me – by about 10 cm. Oh, then she had the audacity to shake her fist at me!

The general sentiment was not that of helpfulness. It was one of angst and anger. In fairness, there were a handful of people who were willing to help, but they didn’t have jumper cables in their cars.

Eventually, after half an hour of trying, I left the centre and went to a local dealership in search of those precious cables.

Maybe I look like a potential hijacker or beggar? Maybe South Africans are just dreadful people (I think not)?

I’m really not sure. But something is desperately wrong in this wonderful land of ours.

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