07 March, 2009

Everything is a mission

Why, why, why does everything have to be such a mission to organise? I've just spent the last two days running around doing things, which would be fine except that we didn't actually get most of it done. Because everything is so bloody complicated and takes so long and is so full of unhelpful people who are supposed to be the ones helping you.

On Thursday afternoon Mr Ruby Slippers' ancient car broke down in the parking lot of a shopping centre where he'd stopped to buy a drink one the way to one of his offices. I've been telling him to get a new car since, I don't know, a year ago, but like me Mr RS isn't fond of doing stuff that requires lots of organisation because it's always such a pain. So while he did look around in a vague "one day" fashion, I know full well he was mentally shelving it until he was forced into it.

Maybe this will force him into it.

So just as I'm starting Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas (which I'd been meaning to watch for years) I get a phonecall from my darling hubby asking me to come rescue him and take him to the meeting he needed to be at. What can I say, he's done the same for me before (like the time I left my lights on all day and my battery went flat). So off I drove to William Nicol Drive (one of the busiest roads in Johannesburg), rescued Mr RS, dropped him at the office, and came home all sweaty and icky, because I don't have aircon in my car. Because we couldn't wait for the AA to come at that point, we left the car there overnight, planning to get it the next day. As Mr Ruby Slippers said, "If they can even get it started to steal, they'll be doing me a favour because then I can just claim from insurance and not bother selling it." Mmkay.

So the next day we thought we'd be all clever and kill two birds with one stone. Both of our driver's licenses are about to expire, so we figured we'd stop at the licensing department in central Randburg and get that done before going to the car, making sure it doesn't miraculously start on its own, and then calling the AA. Nothing worse than some guy arriving to fix a car that's already purring like a kitten. How embarrassing. And how typical of us, too.

I should say that central Randburg is a pretty dodgy place, full of street vendors and crowds and guys just standing around watching you (Presumably to see if you're a good mugging target). I do not go there, ever. However, Mr RS assured me that the licensing department was right off the parking lot and we wouldn't have to walk through most of the scary dodginess. Except when we got there it wasn't. There anymore, I mean. And there were no signs, and no one seemed to be able to tell us where it was. One guy said he thought it was across the streeet, but after venturing uneasily to the curb, we couldn't see diddly-squat that looked like it could be what we were after. So I put my foot down and told Mr RS we were going to the only licensing place I knew of that was not in a horrible area, surrounded by beggars and muggers and the dregs of society - Bedfordview. So what if it's 4o kms from where we were and I loathe driving? At least I'd feel safe (this is very important to me). So off we drove in the heat to the far east side of town, where we filled in confusing forms, had our eyes tested by snappish guys who couldn't explain what they wanted, had our fingerprints taken by a lady so bored she was practically asleep, stood in a medium-length queue that took the time of an incredibly long one, had my name spelt wrong by the imbecile behind the counter, who, despite the fact that she was holding my ID book in her hand, could not understand that she'd swapped two of the letters around, and had to go over to the slightly less imbecilic lady who was helping Mr RS and ask her to read the spelling out loud. I kid you not.

So in 6 weeks we have to back and collect our new lisences and hope like hell that my name is correct on mine.

Now all this time it was getting later and later, and we still had to get back to Mr Ruby Slippers' car and organise roadside assistance from the AA. A trip back to the right side of town resulted, predictably, in the discovery that Mr RS's car was still completely dead. Not a whine, not a rev, nada. At least it was still there, I guess. But then again, who would steal that rubbish car? A guy I used to know had a similar car, and he used to leave it unlocked everywhere he went, in the hope that it would get stolen. It never did.

So we called the AA, who said someone could be with us in about an hour. Great. So we settled down with drinks on the side of the pavement. And in about an hour, a big AA truck arrived, only...it wasn't for us. Someone else's Porsche had broken down in the same parking lot, and they had called first. Great again. Twenty minutes went by and we called the AA to find out the status of our roadside rescue. Twenty minutes more, they said. Forty minutes later they arrived. I'm so glad we waited two hours on a Friday afternoon in a hot parking lot in the most boring shopping centre in the city. An experience I'll cherish for many a year to come, definitely.

But wait, there's more. When it came time to open the bonnet (that's "pop the hood" to you American readers), it, well, wouldn't. Something had got jammed in there and the bonnet was prised shut. Actually this had happened before, but not recently enough for us to have remembered about it till it happened. So our helpful rescue guy, Sunday, had to spend twenty minutes prising it open with multiple screwdrivers. This was so not our day.

In the end it tuned out that Mr Ruby Slippers' battery had died a sudden and inexplicable death (at least it wasn't the starter motor, which is what we'd assumed), so Mr Sunday could replace it on the spot and send us on our way. Actually it took longer to fill out the forms and process the transaction than it did to replace the battery. Bureaucratic red tape.

We just got home in time for our sushi dinner date with my friend Simone, which was, at least, a pleasant way to end a horrible day.

But wait, there's even more. Today Mr Ruby Slippers had a meeting in Midrand (halfway to Pretoria, practically), so we decided to go and find a new cellphone for me at Vodaworld (a cellphone mall...goodness knows why it's necessary, but it's there) and look at pre-owned Hondas at the dealership nearby. Our plans were foiled when the queue at the shop where you need to buy phones and sign up for contracts was about thirty people long, and not moving, and the shop where you can test out demo models had just had all of their display stock stolen, so there was nothing to, well, demo. So off we went to the car dealership, where some guy did his best not to help us until we practically forced him into it, from whence it turned out that the car they'd had in stock when Mr Rs called them, wasn't actually in stock after all.

So basically we did nothing this weekend. I'm so glad.



  1. I've had weekends like that. It's frustrating, though I guess it's life! (That's not very comforting..ha! Sorry!)

    If it makes you feel any better, I was kind of jealous that you were waiting in any degree of heat. I thought it was warming up here, but it's gotten really, really cold again!

  2. Oh I feel you. I hate admin errand days, and when you go through all that and still nothing is done? Argh! I guess at least Mr RS is mobile again?
    On a positive SA government note, have you changed your name on ID & Passport yet? I did mine early one morning, no queues, helpful staff, fill out two forms and now, LESS THAN 5 WEEKS LATER, I've already collected my passport and got an SMS yesterday that my ID is ready too. Bless us. We might be getting better?

  3. Jess: I'm not a fan of the kind of cold you get in Canada, but it also sucks to feel sweat dripping down your stomach while you're driving...blech.

    redframe: He is mobile but he really needs a new car! I'm convinced his one is going to die again any minute; it's sooo old and crap!
    I got my new ID book already (it wasn't too hard, though there was a bit of a queue), but I didn't bother with the passport. We don't travel much, and it's a whole other queue to stand in. Plus I just did it last year before we went on honeymoon! (My previous one had expired). The driver's license is taken care of (if they spell my name right!) so it just remains to change my bank account and that sort of thing.

  4. Sorry for all the crap. Jeez. Does not sound like a fun weekend. I cannot believe you have to wait 6 weeks to get a new drives license! It takes about half an hour here and they do it while you wait. That's good for me, since I always wait until the very last moment to get it renewed!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.