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Uber Tales (37)

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My Uber Day Off

The thoughts of taking the day off begin with the delay with my bail refund. I was told to be at the Newlands Magistrate’s Court at 8am sharp and true to my punctual nature I was there at 7:50. I can wait 10 minutes. What was I thinking? I was not thinking at all. This is the SA public service we’re talking about. At 8am sharp they tell me to amuse myself until 8:30. I didn’t even bring my laptop.

My plan is simple: I’ll collect the cash, go and do my wheel alignment, have the car washed and hit the road by 10am at the latest.

The lady who makes the payments, does so in pairs. She randomly calls out two names, counts out the money, make them sign papers and then she busies herself by walking from her desk to another where she looks disinterestedly at something or other only to walk back to her desk to sit there. She repeats this process over and over. 

By 10am, I finally have the 1000 bucks. By 11am, my wheels are aligned. It is 12:03 when I drive out of the car wash. To work or not to work, that is the question?

It is not easy for me to take a day off while in Joburg. I’m in a constant argument with myself about what we should do with such a luxury, for a luxury it is and we all know luxuries are expensive. He nags on about whether we can afford it or not. No work, no pay.

I consult #NotMyJax who says I could take the day off if I do something else that is productive. She wants me to write. I know the subtexts of her texts.

Experience has taught me that starting later than 10am, in the middle of the morning drought, can be a frustrating business. Even while you tell yourself that any money you make on such a shortened day is good money, it is hard to convince yourself that making R250 or R350 at the end of it was worth the effort. I decide to take the day off and do something else that is productive.

Here I am. I tend to the pool. That is productive, not? I have a haircut. It is part of ‘essential maintenance’. The other day I was standing behind a man in a supermarket queue. His hair was unkempt at the back and from my viewpoint he looked like the last of the big time losers. Many people have the opportunity to study the back of my head every single day and I can’t afford for them to make such assessments of me.  It just won’t do.

I also plan to have a walk. A walk may also be part of ‘essential maintenance’ in view of my sedentary lifestyle behind the wheel. An article in a reputable magazine I recently read suggested that the sedentary lifestyle of most westerners might well be a greater cause of death than what most people think.

Although I’m not averse to death, I don’t want my epitaph to read: Here Lies Chuck. He Sat Himself to Death.

The walk, I know, will take me past Nuno’s where I will have a beer, I know myself. He will have gotten over his earlier affordability concerns and enthusiastically employ cliché after cliché about Jack the dull boy and the importance of the ‘work/life’ balance. 

It is now past 2pm and we agree that starting working now would be utter nonsense. We are also in agreement that the walk will be more productive if we take it earlier rather than later. Furthermore, Myself and I agree that finishing this piece at Nuno’s will greatly enhance its tone and structure. A brisk walk and a cold beer have had that salutary effect often in the past, we agree.

“Carpe diem!” shouts myself. “Seize the day!” says I and we set off on a brisk, purposeful walk after briefly considering taking the car so as not to interrupt the flow of the writing for too long a while, while it was flowing so well. It is the writing that matters most now, we agree.

The first taste of beer explodes cold and clear, foamy and near fantastic in my parched mouth. Myself and I agree: We didn’t take the day off at all, we did essential maintenance.   

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Chuckv

September 14th

Uncategorized

Uber Tales (36)

Uber Moments

Martin (43), the millionaire from Middelburg has a meeting at 10am in Midrand. It is about building another mall. He knows about it and all. He gets off to a slight late start and is irritated by that. He guns his Mercedes AMG 500 down the N4 at 195km/h, then sometimes at 210.

He gains some minutes. His GPS tells him that the 10-minute argument about nothing he had with his wife Karen (35), delaying his start by the same number of minutes, would soon be wiped out.

He regrets he had to leave his son Simon (7) crying, but this meeting can make him a billionaire and he’ll make it up to Simon over the weekend. Simon should also toughen up. His calling Karen a ‘gold-digging cunt’ should not upset the boy so much.

At exactly 3 minutes to 10am, Martin takes his foot off the pedal and smiles on the M1S just before the New Road exit. He will be there at 09:59. He slows down to 110km/h.

A bridge collapses at 09:58,07 on the M1S. Martin is exactly under it. That takes some timing.

“Moments, moments, moments, that’s life. Most are regrettably forgettable and some are regrettably unforgettable, but all together they constitute life and quite random at that.” Chuck is hungover and therefore in a philosophical frame of mind.

“I bet you’re thinking of the R1100 a night free government accommodation?” I tease him because I know what he is thinking. “Or is it the R1000 drop of fruit juice?” His reply is a sigh.

“You’re basically thinking of money again, but since you’re too proud to admit that, you’re trying to shroud it in a philosophical cloud. You’re always thinking of money, that’s why you can’t write, you tell me?”

“You’ve got me,’ he says with a rueful smile in a rare moment of frankness.

“I was thinking of the free government accommodation at R1100 a night and the opportunity cost of a further R1000 when I couldn’t work the next day and then the R1000 drop of fruit juice the next day and then the damn R2400 brake pads the next day and the opportunity lost while I waited for them to be fitted and so it fucking goes on. Of course I’m always fucking thinking of money because we always have a lack of it

“Tell me about the R1100 free government accommodation,” I say.

“I take an Uber from Hell’s Kitchen on 7th Street, Melville to Marks Park and Shirley says who’s gonna pay my bill and I says: “YOU.”

I’m away.

I drink some more with #NotMyJax at Marks Park. We do this often, #NotMyJax and I. It is for the peace of it.

It is a clean non-affair. We drink two drinks together and I rub her back. Then we go our separate ways, as always.

I take an Uber as I came. It is a Friday night and when I get home, I forget this and only remember a slight hunger, a pesky little peckishness. I take my car to Nando’s, 500m up the drag. Nando’s is closed. McDonalds is just 500m further. I forget it is Friday night. Across the hill and down the slope a host of cops awaits me in the dark. I swerve into a side street and they are there too. My goose is properly cooked.

I blow into their pipes and I soon find I qualify for a chauffeur. My chauffeur is hard of hearing. He ignores my instruction to go through the McDonalds drive-thru and proceeds to the Brixton cop shop drive-in instead.

I’m impressed by the efficiency with which the nurses take my blood into little bottles. I compliment them on this. They are efficiently unimpressed.

I see the cell. It is one big cell. I’m one of the first in, second in fact. I take four gym mats and make myself a bed, deliberately not thinking of the French proverb about how you make your bed, you’ll sleep.

I take gym mats and six coarse, but clean, blankets. I sleep. Four blankets over my body, one under my head and another over my ear, but I can still hear.

prison

The soon to be silent new inmates are noisy when they arrive. They’re fresh from the bars they left. They laugh and swap stories about how they got caught. Then they go silent. But new ones come into the night, keeping the noise up. They interfere with my intention to sleep through the whole ordeal using all the skills I acquired during my long spells of unemployment. A sleeping man does not consume much.

The morning comes cold and clear. The 28 other inmates and I are quiet in our reflection on the mess we’re in. They are mostly black and I can’t understand when they speak among themselves. I hear the number 66 and a ripple of laughter spread among them with glances in my direction.

I think of the old joke about the new inmate asking the old-timer why the other inmates burst out laughing whenever one of them shouts out a number. The old-timer says each number represents a joke all of them know, hence no need to retell it. The rookie decides to try his luck and shouts out ‘26’. He is greeted with a surly silence. “What did I do wrong?” he asks the old guy. “It’s a lame joke AND you told it poorly.”

The ‘66’ refers to how far I was over the limit. I gain the respect of my fellows. I’m also the only one with an extra packet of smokes.

We get ‘processed’ two-by-two. I eagerly await my turn. After all, I was second in. Surely the FIFO principle must apply? In the end, as the day drags on it becomes clear that it’s going to be FILO, First In, Last Out. Is it because I’m white? Thoughts about my race didn’t occur to me before. Now they’re racing through my mind.

Everybody is out. Everybody, except me. They are keeping me in solitary for I don’t know how long. I have no way of telling the time. My cellphone is dead. I don’t know if they want to extort a bribe.

George and Vince came to pay the bail (bless their souls) and George even slips the Sarge in Charge a 100 extra. I frown upon that, but can’t bring myself to stop him.

I’m thirsty and hungry. The waterspout is in an alcove and there’s no vessel to drink from. I finally fill up an empty cigarette pack and drink from that. Now I’m just hungry. The solitary toilet is overflowing in a stinky way.

The minutes drag by with an hourly sway. I’m going crazy. What do they want from me? Kafka comes to mind.

There’s an old banana-cradle phone on the desk. It is nicotine stain yellow. I worked in the public service 100 years ago. I dial ‘9’ for the switchboard. It still works!

I ask to speak to the young coloured lieutenant who ‘processed’ me. He’s very busy, says the switchboard. I dial ‘9’ often after that. The lieutenant remains very busy. I keep the switchboard busy. Finally the Sarge in Charge comes for me. He mutters something dark about my lack of gratitude for him having escorted me to my car to get my dead phone. I sign off on my bail application in the lieutenant’s office.

The Brixton cop shop is deserted but for one ‘client’ on that Saturday afternoon. She’s a pretty girl forlornly filling out a form.

On Monday I eat a green square of spanspek. I see the drop form in slow motion on one corner. Time stands still. My laptop is on my lap. I will my hand to move. The movement is too fast or slow. The drop dislodges, drops and disappears into my keyboard. Another blow. My laptop dies on my lap. My brakes neigh a noise. I sigh. Later I tell #NotMyJax that I’m broke but happy. Another moment, you see.”

 

 

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Chuckv

September 4th

Uncategorized

Uber Tales (35)

I should write, I think as I walk. Not writing makes me morose, but what should I write? Could I resuscitate the boring piece about Uber Architecture that is sticking in my inner writer’s craw? Nah, besides being boring, it’s going nowhere.

I’ll write about what I think as I walk. I’ve just been to have my police clearance renewed. I’m slightly apprehensive because the last time I went for the same, it turned out that I committed fraud from the Cape to Koekenaap and many faraway places in between. It took six weeks to clear my good name and I had to go all the way to the Pretoria CBD to do the same, yes, the Pretoria CBD. I also had to stand in a queue with other suspected criminals. I shudder at the mere thought.

I walk past the Greenside Shul and think back to the time I was a Jew in the army. “Visser! How can you be a Jew with a surname like fucking Visser? The corporal shouts in my face. His breath has a hint of death or garbage truck. I recoil but keep my cool. I’m sorry he put the expletive where he did, otherwise the Jewish Board of Deputies would have been all over his ass. Yet, it also has a bit of unintended alliteration to it. In the army you take aesthetics where you can find it.

“My mother was a lass Cohen, sir and in Judaism you can’t be sure you’re Jewish unless your mother is Jewish. You know what we men are like, sir?” My use of the words ‘lass’ and ‘sir’ are designed to annoy him. I succeed. “Don’t you be calling me fucking sir! You can call the PFs and the officers sir, but not me! Call me corporal! “Right corporal, can I board the bakkie now, lest I be late for Shul?” My Jewish co-conscripts are generous in their support of my Jewishness. “He’s Halaal, Kosher and Sushi, corporal,“ they shout. He is on the verge of apoplexy, saving me another whiff of his breath as he motions me in with his head.

My weekend pass has begun. On Fridays I go out to the Sunnyside Shul in Pretoria, a mere block away from my flat and on Sundays I march back into camp with the good souls of the Free Church of St John. It pays to be a Jew in the army. You get to eat in the Kosher mess to boot. The food is better and there are no queues. Praise the Lord.

Many years later I tell a stupid and innocent girl who regrets that her fiancé will not be conscripted ‘to become a man’ that the only thing I learnt in the army was to lie with a straight face.

I walk past the Parkview golf course and think of the time H (Eish!) booted me out of the long white limousine she hired for the Gay Pride parade. My offence had something to do with a lesbian and her boob. H caught me unawares when she came down from the sunroof where she was distributing long-stemmed red roses to promote her gay bar.

As I leave the vehicle with the gentle assistance of H, my one slip-on shoe stays behind. So much for free love and a bit of decadence, I sigh. There’s no way I’m going to walk anywhere with only one shoe. Eish! There was no Uber back then, so I limp along.

Today I walk on bravely to shorten any Uber trip I might be tempted to take. If I was merely averse to spending money before, I am now fully allergic.

“These short trips are killing us,’ I tell my Uber driver when I finally call an Uber with 2.6km to go. “I’m sorry for the short trip,” I say and I mean it. “The other day I had a record-breaking 27 trips in one day and didn’t even sniff my target’s backside. It’s death.” My driver agrees. “And garbage,” I add. He agrees. “We’re cheaper than fucking tuk-tuks!” He agrees.

“The problem is that those 20-buck specials also make you wait and call them before they show themselves. People can be real assholes.” My driver agrees. I also always agree, in a kind of a limited way, with what my passengers say in my car. It saves a lot of bother.

“God is great,” a passenger says out of the blue and shoots a pointed glance in my direction to see if I agree. “It would appear so,” I say, making a slow movement with my head as if to nod. “Pastor Sprays Doom,” says the newspaper poster on the pole. “Just look at the beautiful autumnal colours in the trees,” I say. She is convinced.

With me no longer walking and thus having very few thoughts at Nuno’s where the Uber drops me off for a beer since my car is in for a service, I’m forced to return to the piece about Uber Architecture, if only to remove the obstruction from my inner writer’s craw.

A beautiful sight…

“Architecture as far as the eye can see,” I tell myself. “Yep,’ he agrees, ‘Uber Architecture, but is it the right hour for this type of architecture?” “Enough of your negative vibes, it is always the right hour for this type of architecture,” I say firmly. My device goes ping-ping-ping. I give myself my best ‘I told you so’ look.

Now, I look to my right and left and see lone standing, suburban residential houses. That’s not Uber Architecture. Behind me there’s a mosque. It can be Uber Architecture, but only at a specific hour on Fridays.

I like the futuristic architecture of the Sandton CBD. I know it isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but I like it. Is it Uber Architecture though? It is and it isn’t, at least not for me. You get a lot of trips, but they’re short and you have to locate the asshole standing behind a pillar looking out for you on his phone, getting irritated. An irritation he will soon visit upon my person by giving me a low rating.

Since there’s nowhere to park near the pillar he chose behind which to wait, I have to drive around the block twice before he realises that his chances of finding me would be greatly enhanced if he looked for me on the street in an easily recognisable car instead of looking at a small icon on his phone. I drop him off at his destination on the other side of the block, which I passed twice. I then use language loudly in the inner sanctum of my car as I accept my next FUCKING SHORT TRIP! I sigh.

Incidentally, what have they done to the Benmore Centre in Parkmore, or is it in Benmore? Is less more? I suspect the architects thought so. I mean, after many months of giving it a ‘facelift’ it now looks like a dry-docked tugboat from the one side and a jack-knifed truck from the other. They must have spent millions on the project to get that result.

Julius Malema and the EFF would still like to have it though. They can replace the H&M shop they trashed recently with something that sells cheap sweets and airtime. There are many who would enjoy the good address and the cheap rentals.

A passenger, who lives in the area, meekly tries to defend it until I point the tugboat out to him. He laughs and agrees. I do this deliberately to amuse my passengers. When last did your Uber driver have an opinion about architecture?

Whenever I drop off somebody, my first impulse is to assess the architecture around me. As I said, lone standing suburban houses do not crack it unless they are very opulent. Then, I’m in with a chance.

The architecture I’m looking for is cluster housing. Cluster housing as far as the eye can see brings me trips untold, but as this story unfolds it is clear it is heading nowhere, apart from being boring.

By the way, a strange thought occurred to me of late, even on my morning walk today: “I don’t trust myself driving under the influence any longer, especially when I’m asleep.” I thus hide my car keys from myself when I go to bed. It’s a bit of a bother to find them when I get going again in the morning, but much less so than trying to explain a new little kvetch on my car to myself. Be smart and take an Uber, even for short trips when you go out drinking.

You can still give me money to make up for the short trips you take. Donate to: Capitec Savings Account: 1463736582.

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Chuckv

March 15th

Uncategorized

Uber Tales (34)

I sit at the carwash and think I should use the time to write something, but what? There is the curious case of Carl the serial canceller. Now Carl, what little I know of him, is an Uber Assist passenger, meaning he probably has some sort of disability. That is what Uber Assist is all about although many people accidentally press that button which is great for me in quiet times, but also a bit like parking in the disabled parking bay when you’re not disabled. A bit rude and inconsiderate, what?

Anyway, I first make the non-acquaintance of Carl on a quiet morning in Rooihuiskraal. Ping-ping-ping goes my device and I thank who or whatever we atheists thank for Uber Assist because it is such a call and it is very quiet.

The call comes from one Carl. I switch off my Taxify app and on my Waze navigation app and start the car. I’m hardly out of the blocks when Carl cancels. I sigh and I reverse back into my shady spot where I switch what needs to be on, on and what needs to be off, off.

I had hardly done so or my device goes ping-ping-ping. A lovely sound on a quiet morning in Rooihuiskraal. It’s Carl again. I sit tight. Carl cancels. I laugh out loud. Carl is on a sticky wicket if he really wants an Uber Assist but doesn’t want me.

I know this because not all Uber drivers are Uber Assist drivers.

Ready to assist you Carl…

I had to fill out a lengthy questionnaire to qualify for Uber Assist and despite being drunk while doing so, I apparently did it right. In Carl’s case it might well be that I’m the only Uber Assist in the whole of Rooihuiskraal. Carl calls and cancels again. I laugh again. What does Carl have against me, I wonder, oh I wonder?

Now Carl gets clever, or so he thinks. He gets his pal Andy to order a cash trip for him … from the same address. Andy cancels. This could have gone on for a bit but then I get another trip and drive out of Carl’s range.

Had the story ended there, it wouldn’t have been worth telling. It didn’t. I sit under a tree in Blairgowrie the next day. It is still quiet. Ping-ping-ping! It’s another Uber Assist trip! Thank goodness! It’s another Carl! I stay put. Carl cancels. I laugh out loud. Another call, another Carl who cancels.

Now, I’m not making this up. I sit under a tree, this time in Bryanston on the same day and lo and behold Carl calls and cancels again. What are the odds? What does Carl have against me? One would probably never know.

Meanwhile you can assist me by donating to this here fine blog. Just dump some money into the Capitec Savings Account of CR Visser Acc Number 1463736582, Branch Code 470010. If you can’t do that, please like my FB page; ‘ChuckV’s Taxi’.

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Chuckv

January 29th

Uncategorized

Uber Tales (33)

Uber Superstitions

Mine comes in twos. I see the Rosebank Union Church coming out while I’m on a trip. I’ll drive back there once I’ve dropped my charge some 2km further along William Nicol, I think. The previous time I did a pick-up there, I kvetched the Nameless Nissan by driving over a middleman while making a U-turn. Lesson learnt. I won’t do something like that to the sporty Super Sias, I think.

I’m always nervous returning to a place where I kvetched my car before. Back at the church I see there are still many people about. Now just to find a shady spot to park in. I make a U-turn. Kvetch! On the front bumper. Not a serious kvetch, but a kvetch nonetheless. I sigh.

I do get a call from where I’s sitting and sighing. It is from the Tara Mental Hospital 2km away and not from the church. Uber’s is a crazy world. I pick the guy up from the nurse’s home. There’s an unmarked speed bump in the shade. Kvetch! Underneath the front bumper. I sigh a sigh of relief. If they come in twos, I got off lightly this time.

I’m an atheist and I don’t know why I belief all this shit. Take the parking bays at Rosebank Gautrain as example. There’s one I’m convinced will give me a trip from the Hyatt Regency. That’s a good thing because it is unlikely to be a pesky 2km trip. Another, my firm belief is, will yield only pesky 2km trips. Yet another will not give anything at all. Trains and Ubers can come and go, but I will stay put. All 10 of the shaded parking spots are next to each other in a space the size of a tennis court. Go figure.

I’m sitting in such a dead spot as I write this. On the upside the dead spot allows me time to write. Usually the universe applauds the act of writing by giving me a trip. Remember, the universe applauds action not thoughts. Not in this dead spot. Not on your Nelly!

Super Sias and I in the Pesky 2km Trip bay at Rosebank Gautrain

I’ll step out of the car and go stand in the ‘Hyatt Regency’ spot with my phone. I’ll also light a smoke. The universe often applauds that action by giving me a trip. Strangely it doesn’t applaud the action of me pouring coffee from my car’s boot in the same way. The universe can be funny in that way.

Sorry for the interruption. I got a pesky 2km trip while walking across the ‘Pesky 2km Trip’ bay. I had to nip my freshly lit smoke in the bud to bow to the universe’s applause.

I walk across the ‘Anywhere but the Gautrain’ bay and as I light my smoke I get the call from Cradock Ave. The universe is generous with its Uber applause today.

Then there are negative thoughts that one should not think such as: I’m only a minor mishap away from a major disaster. I did NOT think THAT! When last I thought such thoughts, I got two very serious kvetches in two days.

I have many other little superstitions like watching soft porn will bring bad luck and that if my first trip is into the Joburg CBD, I’ll get another two there that same day, but they are boring so I won’t go into them. As a matter of fact, my superstition that the first trip determines the rest of the day, often plays itself out and I wonder if it is a superstition at all? I began today with two pesky 2km cash trips. I sigh. I get seven more of the same in a row. They come in twos, right? Yeah, right.

On a more positive note, I firmly believe that if I keep on asking for donations to this here fine blog, somebody, somewhere will some day pay something into my Capitec Savings Account 1463736582, Branch Code 470010 (CR Visser). If you can’t do that, at least ‘like’ my Facebook page ‘ChuckV’s Taxi’.

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Chuckv

January 23rd

Uncategorized

Uber Tales (32)

Uber Beggars

Some juggle for a precarious existence or is that juggling a precarious existence? They’re truly ubiquitous. When I see a traffic light without one of them, I’m tempted to take a photo. It’s a rarity. Some just sit, some say something about two bucks and bread, making movements with their hands indicating the need to eat. Some others form troupes and do synchronised dancing with the help of crates.

At the intersection of William Nicol and Leslie Ave they mime what appears to be figures from the American Civil War in suits sprayed silver. The incongruity of that fits in neatly with the overhead traffic lights that look like space ships. Their faces and hands also seem silver and I wonder if it can be good for their skins? Do they make any money?

They’re back every single day so there must be something in it for them. I sigh. It must be tough standing dead still in the blazing sun day after day in a stiff silver suit. I see one of their motionless faces close-up and is somehow relieved to note that it isn’t spray painted silver, but rather covered in a white powdery substance. Fortunately white-facing yourself isn’t racist yet. Or is it?

One day I sit at a service station when a crate dancing troupe of young boys, who should really be in school, invade the convenience store, grabbing chips and sweets and cold drinks by the armful. Are they the vanguard of Julius Malema’s EFF doing active redistribution? Their faces tell a different story. They are no angry mob. They smile from ear to ear and pay for their wares. I ask them what happened. A lady gave them R1200. I smile as they hasten off to enjoy the spoils of their toils with an impromptu picnic.

Simangaliso and his dancing troupe make about R600 per day at the corner of Sandton Drive and Marie Ave.

Some are aggressive. The squeegee guys spraying their soapy water through my open window, for example. I’m a sedate guy who used to drive a sedate car (the Nameless Nissan) listening to sedate music. Not much has changed except that Super Sias can hardly be described as sedate. It’s as nippy as the proverbial bat out of hell, but I digress. I’m a sedate guy and I just switch on my wipers and roll up my window while loudly shouting f@ck-off you c@nt! This sometimes startles my passengers.

Some other drivers are not so sanguine about the aggression. They get out of their cars and clip the offenders around the ears. So it’s a risky business being a squeegee guy. You have to be as fast as the proverbial bat out of hell to evade the burly rugby player getting out of his car ready and able to flatten you in one fell swoop of his gigantic fist.

Yet some others begin their lives in the Finishing School for Beggars. The little children emulating the little curtsies and hand-to-mouth movements indicating, once again, the need to eat of their ‘guardians’. Will they finish their lives in the same fashion? Probably, I sigh.

Another common variety of beggar is the one holding the placard reading: I KEEP THESE INTESECTION SPOTELESS AND CRIME FREE! Chaps, there are too many of you. Begging has clearly become a very competitive business. You’ll have to up your game. Start with spelling. I know most newspapers are not getting it right these days, but teach them a lesson: “I care about spelling and grammar!” That would be a good place to start. It will definitely give you an edge and maybe give me another job.

Some beggars probably have begging as their only option. I’m talking about the visibly handicapped like the Hunchback of Bompas Road. An interview with him that appeared in The Star reveals that he has a house, a wife and a daughter. I always thought he was living in a cardboard box while loudly praising or cursing God in a mixture of English, Zulu and Portuguese. He pays R50 per day to get to ‘work’ and back and he budgets for home improvements at his house in Matola in Mozambique! He’s a truly astonishing fellow. You can read the article here: https://www.iol.co.za/saturday-star/news/thestreetpeople-the-hunchback-of-bompass-road-11389319

It sure puts your shit (and mine) in some kind of perspective.As for my own sorry ass, I just phone you or ask for donations here: CR Visser, Capitec Savings Acc: 1463736582. Branch Code 470010. Cheers.

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Chuckv

January 11th

Uncategorized

The Most Beautiful Place on Earth

The most beautiful place in the world is scared of nothing. Not of love, nor hate, not of nothing. It is. It is rain and thunder. It is nothing and everything. I wake up at 01:45 to write this but then I run out of steam and realise what I wanted to write is this: Nothing says summer better than the smell of freshly mown lawn and a bright burst of bougainvilla to my right as I write from the most beautiful place on earth.

The place in question is situated on my friends Danie and Maaretjie’s farm ‘Node’ in the Eastern Free State, near the picturesque little town of Clarens. One could easily just stop there and say the whole area is the most beautiful in the world and one would not be far off any given truth.

However, just as Salvador Dali’s ‘Centre of the Universe’ is situated on the ceiling of the train station in Perpignan and does not include the whole of Perpignan, my ‘Most Beautiful Place in the World’ is a specific spot on Danie’s farm.

It is under a giant oak tree with the brilliantly blooming bougainvilla to the left if you want the view with the fields rolling away behind the white waving bulrushes across the emerald green freshly cut lawn to the mountains far off and forlorn.

The buzzing of the bees, everything the eye sees and even the rubble from the building of a new beginning, invite the belief that indeed one is closer to God or the gods (as your fancy might be) than anywhere else on earth. There is a plaque to that effect nailed to the gnarly old oak tree. The tree does not seem cross though. It spreads its arms to shade all below.

From left to right: Kevin, #NotMyGirlfriendJax, Maaretjie and Danie in

the Most Beautiful Place on Earth.

Whatever your troubles real or perceived might be, go and sit under that old tree and you’ll breathe free, I can guarantee. That old oak has seen better and worse than you and me.

But talking about new beginnings, Danie and Maaretjie are building a factory for their Noah’s Cheese, made in the shadow of Mount Ararat (I kid you not). They’re going big this New Year, proving once again that no matter what your age, you can change tack however leaky your ship may seem to be. And sail forward against the wind.

Maaretjie (real name Marietjie) has been a forex trader, Danie’s fulltime nurse and whatnot in between. Now she is an award winning cheese maker and forgiver of me for all my sins, including, but not limited to, broken glasses, wine and other spillages as well as broken dustbins and more sins.

Danie has been everything from an almost dead military intelligence officer to a banker and corporate clean-cook stove salesman (to replace paraffin stoves and all the ills they bring into township shacks every day) to his current position of Chief Vacuum-Pack Machine Operator of Noah’s Cheese.

He relishes that title as we laugh under the old oak tree where Maaretjie got the idea to make cheese as a hobby because her father gave her a cow and she had too much milk and nothing much else. That is where the most beautiful ideas form: When you can breathe free under a tree.

Here I sit now under a tree, almost broke but much better off than last year this time when I was completely so. I now know what I’ll regret most on my deathbed: Worries about money. I spent the whole of 2017 doing so, yet here I am sitting under a tree, saying: “My next trip will be a very long one so I’ll just enjoy this very short one in the Most Beautiful Place on Earth.”

I give #NotMyGirlfriendJax the eyes and she smiles.

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Chuckv

January 6th

Uncategorized

Uber Tales (31)

Uber Super Sias

The girl giggled in my passenger seat. She scrolled through this here fine blog that I’ve been neglecting for so long and she giggled. I realised I have to write again. I was caught in a vicious circle of being depressed because I wasn’t writing and not writing because I was depressed. Enough of that bullshit, I’ll introduce Sias to you as a new beginning.

My new car ‘Sias’ is my first new car. Sias is a mostly Afrikaans name for boys. Not even a popular one and also not an abbreviation of something else, however, what are you going to name your brand new Suzuki Ciaz, but Sias? I call it Super Sias. It practically named itself.

I really like Super Sias. It’s nippy and nifty and brand new. What’s not to like? I never liked Sias’ predecessor, the Nameless Nissan. I now refer to it as the ‘Nameless Nissan’ (NN) because I never bothered to give it a name. My disregard for the car was born out of my dislike for its lines. It was ugly to begin with and even uglier when I traded it in.

It gained many ugly new contours to its already ugly exterior. I called those ‘kvetches’. In the end the thing was so kvetched on the one side that I was forced drive past my pickup points and turn around to present the ‘good’ side to my passengers. But enough about the NN and its kvetches. I miss it not.

Having said that, the more I drive Super Sias, the more unflattering comparisons regarding the NN come to mind. For instance, on Christmas day I drove a lot in Soweto. Yes, Soweto is coming to the Uber and Taxify party in a big way, especially over weekends and public holidays.

Now, driving in Soweto reminds me ever so much of driving in Paris. It is not for the fainthearted. You have to go with the flow. Duck, dive, swerve, ignore all traffic rules, avoid hitting running kids, goats and cows and avoid hitting other vehicles all ignoring all traffic rules. You have to keep your wits about you all the time to avoid any number of kvetches.

Fortunately the flow tends to be slow due to the congestion caused by everybody and their dog ignoring all traffic rules. I drove from one trip to the next, not stopping once. As the day wore on, I suddenly realised I was getting tired. I looked at the odometer and it said 284.6km! To put this in context, the NN had me dog tired by 200km and the last 40km of those 200 always felt like slow torture. Super Sias must be doing something different.

Super Sias and I…

Is it the smooth gear action? The Nameless’ gears always felt clunky to me. Is it Sias’ nippiness and sharp eye for the gap? I know not, but driving it more than 280km under the most trying conditions before getting tired surely tells a story worth repeating?

Also, when I finally stopped after 300km, I accidentally went online on Uber and immediately got a call. I took the trip to the airport and drove straight back. I then joined my friend Heinrich for a beer and could almost immediately strike up a conversation with him. You can ask Not-My-Girlfriend Jax about how it normally takes me an hour and two beers before I find my tongue after 200km in the NN.

Is it the fact that I don’t have to worry about maintenance for the next 200 000km? I’m sure that plays a role. Worrying about the next big maintenance expense all the time can be very tiring in itself. Very tiring.

Super Sias also does the most admirable job hiding mud splatter on its exterior. The white NN wore its mud splatter like a mark of dishonour. I go to the carwash and I hardly do a kilometre before hitting a mud puddle. My next passenger sends in a complaint about ‘cleanliness’. I sigh deeply.

If there’s a criticism of Sias, it is that its indicator and wiper levers are on the wrong sides. Why can’t damn carmakers not put the damn things in the same place? How difficult can it be to put the wipers on the right of the steering column and the indicator on the left or fucking vice versa as long as it is the same in all cars?

Sias’ maiden trip took place in a thunderstorm and it was a mess of wipers being switched off while the indicator indicated right when I wanted to go left. That I didn’t kvetch the car seriously on that trip is a wonder I still marvel at, as I still do at Super Sias, my first brand new car. May it ride long and kvetch-free as I only put on the wipers instead of the indicator once a day of late.

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Chuckv

December 26th

Uncategorized

Uber Tales 30

Uber Dumb

I drive myself dumb and I have proof of it. An article I recently read online, so it must be true, states: “The 93,000 people who drove more than two to three hours a day typically had lower brainpower at the start of the study, which kept on declining throughout, at a faster rate than those who did little or no driving.”

I concur heartily and you, dear reader, will probably do too just on the basis of my output (or lack thereof) on this here fine blog. I drive 10 hours a day. My days, weeks and months pass by in a single blur of driving, drinking a bit too much and sleeping without so much as a single idea crossing my mind. My mind is solely occupied with chasing a buck. It is a dreadful state of affairs.

I sell cheese on Sundays to counter the dumbness. I don’t sell any old cheese, I sell fresh Noah’s cheese. Maaretjie makes them. I sell them alongside my erstwhile muse Jax who is busy with her crossword puzzle.

I become a cheesy actor saying lines like: “You wanna taste my cheese. I know you wanna ‘cause I’m psychic in that way.” How damn cheesy can you get? I love it and I sell cheese.

I talk about ‘your boring feta versus my soaring salaté’ and often use Tom Waits’ line from Step right up, “It turns your sandwich into a banquet”. I use rhyme: “Now the string cheese, you unstring with your fingers in a therapeutic way and then, when you feel like Zen, a ball like that, fills a bowl like this with sheer snacking bliss.”

When I say I sell cheese, I mean it and when I say Uber is driving me dumb, I mean it too.

At night I fall asleep with me being the blue dot on the Uber app’s home screen, except I’m brown for some reason. In the mornings, I almost always wake up with the same dream. I get an Uber call and my finger reaches to accept it. Then I tell myself: “You can’t take that call, we’re still in bed.” Then I wake up.

Further proof, if further proof is needed, that too much driving drives you dumb, is the behaviour of the thugs posing as ‘metered’ taxis. They mostly have driven all their lives and it shows in their reaction to the advent of Uber. Apart from pissing off the remaining idiots (retired drivers?) who would still consider using them, they’re fighting a battle that cannot possibly be won and they must know it. It’s like pissing into Hurricane Irma. Yet, they fight on, dumbly.

Talking about dumbness and Hurricane Irma, reportedly the fiercest in recorded history, it must take a special kind of dumb to ignore the fact of climate change. As to what is driving it, I’m too dumb to say, but what is clear, is that it’s happening with all sorts of new bad records being recorded. The worst drought in history in the Western Cape is a case in point.

I must venture that climate change is human driven, if only by our sheer numbers. Seven billion and every day a new bunch of drivers-to-be are born. I have no records to support my assertion that young Donald Drumpf, as he was once known, must have been a keen driver. Now he is trying to drive the world to war. Yes, driving makes you dumb.

I wish the evil marketing ‘geniuses’ who brought us dumbing down would now clever up. We can do with a bit of clever.

 

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Chuckv

September 11th

Uncategorized

Uber Tales (29)

Uber Right

“Sometimes,” I tell Vince on Nuno’s stoep, “I feel as if the universe itself is conspiring to make my life a misery.” He gives a dry and laugh: “Yes, of the seven billion people down here, the universe is picking on Chuck by stealing or breaking his phone. It’s a tough life being Chuck.”

I prefer sitting at Nuno’s these days. It’s quieter, the chairs are softer and I can still converse with the denizens of the Xai on whom I now look down, literally, and sometimes figuratively too.

I don’t hold much truck with the universe influencing my daily existence. I’m to it the ant underfoot, the particle within the particle that can explain the nothingness. Still sometimes I long for anything that can explain the rise of the Zuptas. Their Icarian fall is inevitable, yet they foul my skies with their filthy wings of lies. I, like you, live in the now and they’re fucking up my now, right now. They should be punished for that alone. And harshly.

Many children could have been taught, many drainpipes bought, cancers fought, but it all came to naught as the Zupta’s sought to steal every last cent with no sense of ever being caught. The failed Motion of No Confidence in the Lying, Stealing, Dancing, Laughing, Fucking #1 may have been a disguised blessing as I’ve already pointed out five years ago when I wrote a blog entitled Bring on Five More Years of Zuma http://chuckv.co.za/bring-on-five-more-years-of-zuma/#.WYsurNN95yw. My argument then was, and still is, that Zuma will rid us of ‘Liberation Movement’ politics sooner than the 30-odd years it usually take for such movements to implode and then he and the Zuptas will be caught. That day can’t come soon enough now. I hope I’m right.

Reading the writing on the wall right…

But back to the universe and I. The ‘improve yourself’ course on which H (Eish!) sent me told me that the universe applauds action not thoughts. I firmly believe if you do the right things right the outcome would be alright and fuck the universe and the Zuptas. Yesterday I walk into the Post Office with a determined step. I’m there to renew my license disk. It’s the right thing to do two weeks before it expires. It’s action too. I do it at the Post Office because their system can’t ‘see’ my traffic fines, right? Wrong. I have two outstanding fines. I go and pay them. “Some fucking applause,” I think.

My certificate comes out with the instruction that I have to get a new roadworthy certificate. This is unheard of. I sigh and go to the testing station. All of this costs money. Lots of it and doing the admin brings none in. I sigh. My car fails the roadworthy. I sigh again. Fortunately it isn’t big budget items needing to be replaced. I fix some light bulbs and replace the wiper blades, but still, all the money I thought I had saved (the right thing) by living frugally, making my own food and letting other people pay for my drinks just evaporate.

I sigh. I keep the trip switches of my sanity up by assuring Myself that good things can also happen unexpectedly and that it isn’t only bad shit that comes from the blind side. He gives a dry and hollow laugh. “Yeah Chuck, you just keep on doing the right things right and the outcome will be alright … like the ANC, right?” Before I can think of an apt retort, the universe applauds my action of writing with a trip call, or was it the action of lighting a smoke. One would never know.

Meanwhile, my friend Charli died of a heart attack after attending her first book launch, Fanie’s Hierdie Huis. Her doctor wanted to admit her to hospital, Charli wanted to attend the book launch. Who was right?

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Chuckv

August 9th

Uncategorized
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