On a dark and gloomy night…

Emoticons

 

On a dark and gloomy night, powered not by electricity, but the flames of emergency candles, the silence was pierced by hysterical screaming.

 

What did I do?

I got involved.

 

I called the armed response, I called the cops, I posted on Facebook, I called the Husband and made him go and find out if some woman was being torn limb from limb.

 

Over an hour later the Husband returned to share the tale of woe…

 

It appears that the couple concerned were not, as we supposed, total strangers. In fact, the Husband is a colleague of the man. Each time he has to travel (as does the Husband), every two weeks or so, his wife freaks out.

 

The incident was incited by an emoticon.

Yes.

A smiley face emoticon.

 

You see, he’d sent a message to the guys he works with in deepest, darkest Africa to wish them well and he’d signed it with a smiley face. An innocuous, emotion free, smiley face.

 

When the Husband tried to point out that a smiley face does not really express emotion, the wife concerned screamed, “And I’ve got my F#$king period!”

 

TMI?

Just a little.

 

The screaming we’d heard came as a result of the lack of power (thanks Eskom). Leaning forward in the dark to get a torch, both husband and wife leaned in and the wife got hit in the face with the torch.

 

I am deeply relieved that it was not a full-scale dismemberment or anything more horrible.

 

Realistically though, I may not scream loud enough to call the cops, but it’s not easy for me either when the Husband is out of the country for weeks at a time. It’s hard. I’m not Superwoman. None of us are.

 

It’s the little things that crack us up – no bread, a burst pipe, a sick kid, a flat tyre – or just old-fashioned loneliness.

 

There’s also the real fear that something might happen. Last year, the Husband narrowly missed a bomb blast at a shopping center in Kenya. I couldn’t reach him on his phone and I didn’t know whom to call to find out if he was okay.

 

This week his plane caught fire and had to turn back. The air compressor gizmo shorted out and the cabin filled with smoke.

 

Upon sharing these feelings with the Husband, he said, “Oh, there’s a number for that.”

 

“A number for what?” I asked.

“A number at work you can call if you need kids collected or a plumber and stuff.”

“Really?” I drawled, “And after 7 years you only thought to tell me now?”

“Well,” he said, “I’m telling you now.”

 

Point is, as much as I don’t really want to get involved in something so terribly Stepford Wives, perhaps we need some forum where we can vent and share and whine and wine – definitely wine. Lots and lots of wine.

 

 

Shedding the Load

Load shedding

 

Load shedding defined

When South Africa’s electricity gets turned off due to massive ineptitude and avarice on behalf of the country’s only power provider.

I have to provide the definition because it’s come to my attention that people in 1st world countries have no clue what load shedding is.

Until a few years ago, neither did we.

Yesterday, I had a fascinating and insightful conversation with a lady in the UK.

 

It went like this:

“We think it would be nice to something around load shedding.”

“Okay.”

“Like, we could remind people to record the show they’ll miss because of load shedding.”

“Um. That won’t be possible, because load shEskom, load shedding, south africaedding means that there is no power, so you can’t record anything.”

“Alright, so lets give them something easy to cook during load shedding.”

“Yeah, that would be amazing, except again, no power.”

“How about a no-bake cheesecake you can just pop in the fridge?”

“About that, the fridge has no power either.”

“What about internet access?”

“Well, the Wi-Fi would be down because of the whole no power thing and data here costs more than a kidney on eBay so most people won’t use their last two bars of battery and data to watch TV.”

Deep sigh.

My colleague interjects, “Basically, just imagine what London was like in the 1800s.”

I’m sure that helped a whole lot.

I didn’t set out to be deliberately obstructive. Promise.

So, we moved on to the times when most people are online.

“Here, in the UK, our high traffic times are 7am to 9am and 4pm to 6pm – so we think you should do more around these times.”

Deep breath in.

“I’m sorry, but that won’t really work here, because we don’t have a viable public transport system, so during those commuting hours people are mainly sitting in traffic jams waiting to die.”

“Oh,” she said, “That’s a very good insight.”

Yes. Yes, it is.

It’s a very good insight into the deteriorating state of government affairs and infrastructure in the face of extreme incompetence.

After that call I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

So, I chose to laugh.