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

rear_view_mirror

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.

The Chicken and the Ape

First there was the baboon.

Now there is the chicken.

Living in suburban Africa is becoming quite an adventure.

I used to laugh at people from overseas who thought I had a pet lion in the backyard. My Siamese doesn’t count. These days my chuckles are little subdued.

You see, after I forked out nearly R1 000 to stitch up my dog’s ear post the baboon scenario, my neighbours bought some chickens.

Not those cute little expensive decorative ones either.

Farm chickens.

And not for their eggs either.

Oh no. These are for dinner.

How do I know this?

I know this because around lunchtime last weekend a tremendous squawking started up over the fence. This rendered every dog in the neighbourhood into paroxysms of frenzied barking.

Most curious husband peeked over the fence prompted by my wondering what the hell was going on.

“It’s a chicken,” he stated, pleased with himself.

“Chickens do not scream,” I commented.

“Well, this one is about to be dinner,” he mentioned quietly as to not awake the bloodlust in small boys avidly listening in.

“Don’t be silly! This is the suburbs, chickens come from the Spar.”

Suddenly the squawking came to an abrupt halt along with the earth shuddering thunk of an axe.

Husband peeked over the fence again.

“It’s dead now,” he stated completely unnecessarily.

That wasn’t the end of it. Suffering from the post traumatic stress of seeing their family member summarily executed, the remainder of the chickens flew the coop, over the electric fence and into my garden.

Now, what do I do?

They are very very hard to catch. For birds with little flight, they are quite wily.

Do I throw them back over the wall to their certain doom?

Each day this week I have come home with a leaden dread in my belly certain I will find the carcass of a fowl on my lawn.

I have a beagle. He can pluck a bird out of mid-flight and present it unharmed and pissed off into my hands.

My Staffie has no such compunction, if he gets hold of this interloper it will be tickets and I’ll have to explain to my neighbour where Sunday lunch went.

“Ah well,” said the husband, “At least it wasn’t a goat.”

A goat!

Why would it be a goat?

On some inspection I discovered that despite being in the heart of the city, my neighbourhood retains it partial agricultural zoning. This means that lifestock can be bred and… well, executed among the Ford Fiestas and BMW Z5s.

If I lived on a farm, I might expect to experience this. But the point is I don’t.

I live in Sandton for heaven’s sake! Not on the platteland of the Karoo.

In fact, I once stayed with family friends on a farm who wanted to find out what would happen to common old garden battery chickens if you let them run free.

I’ll tell you, they get fatter and fatter and then they break their legs. So, we had one for dinner.

My host, though talented beyond measure ion many other things, was not a talented plucker, and dinner was spent removing feathers from between one’s teeth.

My mother informs me that you can stroke a chicken into a sort of coma and then just wring its neck.

Apparently she saw this on the Discovery Channel.

I’d prefer that method to the chop of the axeman, but I don’t know how to approach this sort of conversation over the fence.

Nor, do I know how to respond to the dinner invitation.