07 December 2010

Cheating the Car Guard and Losing - a hilarious spectator sport

How do I fully express, in simple words, what I witnessed at the intersection of Long and Buitensingel St. yesterday afternoon? How can I relate how this single event seems to have made all the trials I have experienced up ‘till this point seem entirely worth it? (Although, there are still a few hazy encounters on the early morning streets of Grahamstown I could probably do without. And Observatory. And Russell Road, Port Elizabeth.  But, perhaps, I digress…)

Have you ever come to the complete end of you’re tether and just decided, “Fuck it!”?

We’ve all seen the viral vids on YouTube of various office workers wigging out, trashing their computers, violently attacking colleagues with stationery and even one particularly scary one of a dude pulling a gun on an elevator (and by ‘scary’, we mean entertaining). 

In a strange way, we’re jealous of these people. They got to do it, that thing we’ve always dreamed about but never had the nerves to do; to bitch-slap the computer that’s a decade out of date, to curb-stop the printer that smears toner on everything you print, and to People’s Elbow any jackass co-workers that even think of standing in the way of you and your cathartic massacre.

We all know someone who deserves it.

Well, yesterday I was lucky enough to witness such an event.
Now, like most South Africans, I am not particularly partial to car guards. For those non-SAFAs out there, a car guard is an individual, not otherwise constructively occupied, employed by the municipality, to stand on street corners and collect governmentally endorsed extortion payments from parked motorists. 

Yes, we’ve managed to tax unemployment.

The implication is that, once the bribe has been paid, the motorist can leave his car behind, safe from theft, scratches, dings or general personal mugging to and from his vehicle

The implication is a lie.

It’s her job to chase people who try to steal your car…

That aside, I understand that, in the tenuous fashion that we’ve managed to make this form of employment legal, they do have a job to do, and so long as they aren’t drunk or obnoxious, have a legitimate magical-car-guard-money-eating-hand-held-device and give at least a passing nod to courtesy, I’ve give them a smile and my money.
Not everyone shares this sentiment.

“Cheating the Car Guard” is a game of stealth played by many a South African motorist. It involves sauntering in the direction of you vehicle, passing it as if it wasn’t yours, pretending to be distracted by a shop window display and then, when the car guard’s back is turned, leaping into your vehicle, gunning the engine and screaming into traffic as you pretend not to notice the flailing, yellow clad fellow dashing up the road behind you.

This happens a lot. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, Cape Town motorists are dicks.

On Monday afternoon, however, at around 4:30PM, at the intersection of Long and Buitensingel, a car guard had eventually had had enough.

As I watched, a particularly unpleasant looking lady of the rotund persuasion, being less than fleet-of-foot, played this game and lost. Squeezing into her tiny hatchback, she pretended not to see the yellow man at her window, pointing to his magical device and requesting she cough up. Instead, she attempted to squeeze into rapidly moving traffic in an attempt to escape. The Guard, as he shall henceforth be called, was having none of it.

This was it for The Guard. This was the last straw. He’d had enough. With an agility and strength lent to him by the god of people other people try to ignore (an unsurprisingly powerful deity) he leapt onto her bonnet as she plowed through the intersection.

I can’t explain to you how awesome the scene was as she sped through the robots, a look of absolute surprise, bordering on horror, contorting the doughy features of her face as The Guard clung fast to her bonnet, righteously, justifiably and loudly venting at her through the windscreen, The Device still firmly in hand.

Mel Gibson knows what I’m talking about.

The best was, as my light turned green and I moved on, I caught a glimpse of them up the road, stopped now, the woman, red-faced and trying, rather unsuccessfully, to squeeze herself out of her drivers door, while The Guard, ever so politely, reminded her that she owed him R8 for the parking.

If there’s a point to this story, I guess that it’s be courteous to whoever you meet, whoever they are, because you never know if your snide comment or flippant action will be the straw that eventually convinces the camel to go on a street-long bludgeoning spree, using your left leg as a cudgel.  

This is why we drive slowly past accounting firms.

1 comment:

  1. bwa ha ha ha ha.. a car guard the thought seems almost absurd! But then again reality is always stranger, and in most cases more hilarious, than fiction! I would have love to have been a fly on the windscreen of that ladys car!