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


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