Leaving the comfort zone

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I like my comfort zone. It is my happy place. I am averse to any change in my comfort zone and largely view such as possibly malevolent.

However, I am not deaf to the daily inspirational quotes like, “Do one thing every day that scares you” and it’s ilk.

So, when the chance arose to go to a social media conference at my old university, I jumped at the chance. I bullied my friend into going and forced her to venture into the inner city with me. I took her, protestations aside, to a divine little hipster café called Post in Braamfontein. I highly recommend it.

As the day went by, aside from the tedium of the world’s most boring and poorly organised social media conference, I was proud of our comfort zone exit strategy. I thought it was panning out quite well.

And then I left.

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Leaving the boom gates of the university slowly edging forward in the stream of traffic I was pondering my route home, dinner and other issues of existential importance.

Suddenly, from a highway off-ramp, a young man exited at speed across two lanes of traffic to turn (illegally) right. Looking anywhere but the road in front of him he came to an abrupt halt in front of my moving car.

photo 2The whole thing took micro-seconds and my car was consigned to that place wherever cars go when they die.

The air bags exploded.

Good to know that they worked.

Although the little flap that kept it in the steering wheel exited at great speed emblazoning the make of car backwards across my boobs.

At the point of impact all I could think of was the searing pain in my lungs. Whatever that stuff is they put in there is toxic and I ended up heaving on the side of the road.

To add insult to injury, my friend was a few cars back in the traffic and witnessed my explosive booting out from my comfort zone to a place of inexplicable torment.

That was only the start of a week that marked the ending of comfort in every sphere.

10367721_10152222356801116_1025044086248377177_nMy car, followed by the heartbreaking decision to put my beloved Staffie, Billy Bob, to sleep and then a cabinet reshuffle at work.

When once more I am happily ensconced in bigger, better comfort zone, I am not doing any stupid to bring about its demise.

Like spout nonsense about the danger of staying in comfort zones.

Woman + Car + Pole = Mistake

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The Husband was home for just over 24 hours this weekend.

This was both a blessing and a curse.

A blessing because, hey we missed him and the washing machine and stuff needed fixing.

A curse because, hey we screwed up a little. Okay, I screwed up a little.

Just after The Husband had departed this sunny country for the land of the free, I had a small altercation in his car with a pole. article-0-0248D9A4000005DC-840_468x286

I was in the CBD and the traffic on the one-way was hideous, tempers were frayed and no-one cared that I was trying to reverse park in a teeny tiny spot.

In a desperate effort to avoid a collision with a very angry taxi driver, I shoved the car in reverse and hit a pole that I swear wasn’t there a second before.

I had hoped he wouldn’t notice.

Hope is not a strategy.

On Friday at commuter rush hour 5pm, I arrived to collect The Husband from the train station.

In front of the crowd of onlookers who all stopped to watch with undisguised mirth, he exploded.

TH:      “WTF? My car! Tell me someone drove into you. Tell me someone drove into you.”

Me:      “I can’t. That would be a lie.”

TH:      “I can’t believe you drove into a tree! In my car!”

Me quietly:     “It wasn’t a tree.” TH:      “What?”

Me louder:     “It wasn’t a tree. It was a pole. Get in the car.” when-wives-drive

The Husband stalked to the passenger side of the car and stopped in horror.

TH:      “WTF!”

Onlookers now recording this on YouTube.

Me:      “What?”

TH:      “Where are the panels on the side of my car?”

Me:      “We’ve been through this. They fell off before you left. We had a conversation about it and you said you knew.”

TH:      “It wasn’t this bad. Not a bloody gaping hole in the side of the car!”

Me:      “Get in the goddamn car or go back to the airport buddy.”

The homecoming wasn’t too great either.

The chocolate bar he had hidden in plain sight to test our resolve remained in situ. Leaking-Washing-Machine

However, at some point the fan in the refrigerator had stopped working, the rain had turned our porch into a swamp and the washing machine was spewing suds forth all over the floor.

I tried to be patient. I did.

I get jet lag and that after two weeks in 5 star luxury, peace and quiet etc. that a home with three kids on half term is like diving from heaven straight into the depths of hell.

On the flip side, I’ve been a single parent for 2 weeks solid with no domestic worker and a new job, so my stress levels are approaching red line emergency status.

The Husband left yesterday morning for a week in some African country.

I can’t keep track if this one is at war, recovering from war or under the threat of Islamic terrorism.  In case of the latter I made sure The Husband had memorized the name of the Prophet’s mother – Amina.

As for the new job…

Well, I had a great view, but lost my window seat this morning in some strange and meaningless desk shuffle that involved all of us wandering around holding our Apple Mac’s and looking lost until we found our new desks. 11693541,,

So far, the work has been fun, the people are great, despite the fact that a disproportionately large number of employees are currently off on a mental health sabbatical or have scrawled goodbye letters in permanent markers on their office doors.

I have my towel. I will not panic.

If all else fails I will drown myself in the large pool of plastic bouncy balls.

K is for Kidding. You must be kidding? Right?

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Wrong.

After my bizarre parking lot accident a week or so back, you’d think I’d have met my quota. You can read about that crash with calamity if you feel like it later.

Today was one of those days when I should have stuck with routine. Just the same thing I do every day and not messed with the system.  Of course, I didn’t and so now here I sit bemoaning the fact. 20/20 hindsight and all that.

siameseThe first stupid choice I made was leaving work early, due to having left two small people in my mother’s small house with a hyperactive Golden Retriever, a skittish Siamese kitten and the cleaning service. I was concerned that the summation of the first three items of that list would result in chaos greater than the sum of its parts.

The second mistake was deciding on a whim to take a different route home. Why today of all days I chose to vary this, I have no idea. It was not a choice that ended well.

RobotHappily pulling up at the red robot (traffic light in every other country) I found myself behind a taxi and two other cars I paid no attention to.

I wouldn’t paid attention to the taxi either had it not been the catalyst for the disaster that followed.

Let me tell you about South African taxis.

They are not the yellow cabs of New York City.

They are not the black cabs of London.

If you ever need to catch a taxi here you will need these.
If you ever need to catch a taxi here you will need these.

They are minibuses in varying stages of disrepair and near to total unroadworthiness that form the spinal column of our public transport system.

The roads are their domain. This means they can and will stop at anytime, anywhere with no warning (because 90% of the time the brake lights don’t work anyway).

And that is exactly what this one did.

Why he did not disgorge his passengers at the red traffic light, I have no idea.

Instead he waited until the light turned green and we all happily accelerated to be on our merry ways.

And then he stopped. Dead.

The car behind him stopped.

The car behind him stopped.

I stopped.

Then I chanced a glance in my rear view mirror and saw the future looking backwards.

mercThe future was a shiny, black Mercedes that on any other day, in any other circumstance I would have paused to admire.

Instead I thought, “Oh shit.”

Because the shiny, black Mercedes in question was blithely unaware we had all come to a screaming halt.

There was nothing to do and nowhere to go.

“Brace yourselves chaps!” I called out to Miss Diva and the Young Padawan.

And that was that.

With a screech of brakes and that horrid silence that seems to stretch forever I watched the shiny, black Mercedes close in on my not-so-shiny grey Ford Fiesta. And then he made first contact.

Regardless of having been forewarned the crash still felt like a charging rhino just head butted the centre of my back.

In real time this whole scenario probably unfolded in milliseconds.

I was very calm and Mr. Merc can thank my doctor for that (he prescribed me Xanax for insomnia and anxiety the day before). We exchanged the requisite numbers and he was terribly nice and concerned about all of us.

star trekIn all honesty, there wasn’t a hell of a lot he could have done to avoid the accident anyway.

Needless to mention, the taxi driver disappeared faster than Captain Kirk in the Starship Enterprise’s transporter.

As we drove away I noticed his shiny, black Mercedes wasn’t so shiny anymore. Feeling petty, I took some comfort in this fact.

The right thing to do after a Motor Vehicle Accident or as I discovered what “they” call an MVA, is to go to the police and fill out a report.

So, off we went.

How hard could this possibly be?

You have no idea.

sapsPolice Station 1 in my area of residence told me I had to go to Police Station B where the accident occurred.

Police Station B had a queue stretching into the parking lot.

Thirty minutes later I was very relieved when the Constable allowed me to complete the form myself without the lengthy dictation that usually takes place and the writing down of that dictation during which entire continents shift.

Ten minutes later I was back in the queue. At this point my children were not so quietly going insane. I might have told them that if they were naughty the scary policeman in the corner would put in a jail cell to chill out. They shut up.

Twenty minutes after that I handed my completed form to a different police officer who informed me that I had to go back to Police Station A.

At this point I ignored what I had told my offspring and let my mild indignation heat up to full steam. He stamped my form and sent me down a darkened corridor to the first door on the right.

The smell emanating from this room was so strong it had actual shape and colour. A sort of putrid algae green cloud of cabbage, boiled chicken and chakalaka hit my nostrils like an H-Bomb blast.

I then had to yell over about 8000 decibels of badly tuned radio to make myself heard to a distinctly disinterested young lady who eventually handed me a scrap of paper with my case number.

The case number is vital for my insurance claim. Otherwise it serves no purpose whatsoever and chances are high that my meticulously filled in form will end up in a landfill somewhere within the next 48 hours. It is an awful lot of bother for very little outcome.

Someone should write an app.

Of course, the next step was calling my husband. I flaked out a bit here.

I sent an SMS.

“Had accident. Not my fault. All okay. At police station.”

He rang back in about 0.2 of a millisecond.

At least he wasn’t mad at me. He even offered to come past the police station and give me a hug. In retrospect that was probably why he called me the night of the flat tyre (see I is for I have a Flat Tyre).

The damage report is not heartening. The boot/trunk does not open. The bumper is hanging on by a thread. Great chips of paint have fallen off the body. All-in-all a bit of a mess, with the result that I will be carless for some time, unless my insurance springs for a rental. Please not a Kia Picanto.

On a more personal level, my two passengers have minor whiplash, thank you God for safety belts, and I have to go for x-rays on my back.

It turns out titanium doesn’t have a lot of give and my replacement lumbar disk (see: Farting for Food) might have been knocked out of kilter. Something I hope with all my heart an anti-inflammatory can cure because I am in no hurry to be cut open again anytime soon.

The moral of the story?

Sometimes routine can kill you with boredom.

Sometimes it can just save your life.

It’s a toss up really.