Thursday, September 30, 2010

Small Change

This is going to sound all wrong, and some of you are going to get all, like, ANGRY AND TYPE ME MAD EMAILS IN ALL CAPS. I know it. ‘Cause it’s one of those topics ‘you’re not supposed to talk about’, you know. You’re not allowed to be annoyed by poor people, let alone admit to it on a public platform. For shame!

But seriously. I drive around far too much, and far too far, for this not to be an issue. There is some form of beggar at every corner, in every parking lot, everywhere. You get the guys who, for some wondrous reason, kneel at the intersections, no doubt to illustrate the seriousness of their plight. You get the basic hand-cupping guys in their dirty clothes. Sometimes with rubbish bags. “I’m providing a service to you by gathering your car garbage. Give me money.” And of course there are the car-guards. But that’s a whole different tirade, we’ll just generalise, yes?

Now admit it – every time you approach a red robot and there’s a guy standing there with a pitiable look on his face, you get riled up. Your blood pressure rises. Your teeth clench. You roll up your window if he’s not looking and if you can avoid being too obvious. The reason for this frustration isn’t such a grand mystery: white guilt; yuppie guilt; shit, just plain “I have a car and food on my table” guilt. But that doesn’t make you feel any better about ignoring them flat, does it? Or even driving off with a quick “sorry”. And lately they’ve taken to holding two or three five cent coins in their palms to illustrate just how little they’re willing to take. And to add to the sympathy, of course. Along with women who, much to our total horror (Shock! Gasp!), hire babies.

My issue is: do you have a right to be pissed off, and to drive away not feeling bad about it?

There are several ways of justifying it. You can go with the “charity starts at home” adage. But that’s just weak. True. But weak. Ya ya you work hard to earn your cash, and deserve to spend it where you choose. But you need more. You need to make the beggars’ actions wrong in order to feel completely absolved, right? And you can’t just go to the obvious raging idea that they should get jobs. It’s the right path, but you have to go deeper.

Yes, these people should absolutely be out there looking for jobs. But it’s not that easy, as you know. Our unemployment rate is ludicrous – people with University degrees can barely get a job. And because of the economy, big companies are even struggling to afford their unskilled labour. But the point is that these gents are no closer to finding work settled on the same corner every day. And dare I say it, chances are, they’re not interested in working either. It’s a lot easier to stand in the street and blame the hundreds of selfish motorists when you don’t have enough money at the end of the day. Painstakingly and tirelessly looking for a job that will undoubtedly pay you peanuts is not nearly as appealing as technically doing nothing and getting a good R2 from, let’s say, one in five cars that pass.

Think about it this way: there are millions of people in this country who struggle and suffer. We all know it, whether it’s general awareness or that we’ve gone out of our way to see it for ourselves. There are men and women who commute for four or five hours every day to get to and from work, to earn a pitiful salary that barely feeds their families and educates their children. But they wake up every day, and they do it. And it’s a fight. They’re trying. Some of them have two or even three jobs. Some of them live in entirely different provinces to the families they’re trying to provide for. Are these not perhaps the people that deserve that R2 every day? What’s with this sense of entitlement? This idea that somehow the world owes you your living? Not in the history of mankind has life ever worked that way, and nothing’s going to change. No matter your position in life, there’s always someone worse off than you, so what makes you any more or less in need than say, the people of Ethiopia? (Guess who ‘wins’ that one, by the way.)

I dunno. I became acutely aware of how much it annoyed me this week, and I know that after years of driving around and dealing with it, there must be a reason. It just doesn’t feel right giving these stationery people money. I’m not of the patronising school of “oh well they’re just going to buy booze and glue!” Nor the “little child being exploited by adults” route – even though this is fairly obvious some of the time. So it’s not as simple as my issue being with what they do with the money they gather. It’s why they’re (dangerously) occupying our intersections in the first place. And the fact that they’re evidently making money that way, which is why the problem persists. If your job as a beggar or glorified beggar (read: car guard) is paying out, you’re not exactly going to go do something that requires any effort, now are you?

My suggestion: if you are someone who gets uncontrollably annoyed and riled up at the sight of a beggar – don’t give them money. And don’t feel bad about it. I, personally, hate ignoring people, so I always tend to speak to the dude. I just say “sorry I’ve got nothing for you”, and if they persist I get a bit tougher. But that’s up to you. If you’re a sucker and always pay up – rather give your maid an extra two rand for every day of the month. Or your gardener. Or pick a charity of some sort. Someone or somewhere you know will use it well. Where you know where your money’s going, I mean. Fuck, give the guy a sandwich or an apple if that’ll help you sleep at night.

But that’s just lil’ ol’ me. Please enlighten me with your view on the issue.

(I don’t purport to be an expert on this issue – it’s just my experience and my attempt at justifying how much it bothers me. I can also, obviously, not pretend to have any idea of the desperate state so many South Africans live in. So don’t sharpen your pitchfork and light your torch. I don’t intend to run for parliament. Just another Joburger who gets pissy.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Discovering I'm a Screamer

Waking up at 4.30am is always going to be a challenge. Whether it's the actual waking up or the delayed exhaustion that kills you depends on your own niggles, i suppose. I am victim of the latter. Been waking up like a hot-gang over-excited rooster. But come 11am slash 12pm slash 1pm, I'm a goner. (haha, thought that read: boner, for a sec.) This is problematic if you're an all day worker. It's even more problematic, I believe, if you have to handle heavy-machinery. Ya. Most days I'm driving back on the highway during my slump. And dozing off at the wheel is not recommended, comrades. Not recommended at all. But I do get holy-fuck-fuckered tired. Listening to the radio really loudly doesn't work. Neither does singing. I just fade into the backup. I tried something yesterday, however, that works a treat, albeit temporarily.

What could such a solution be?! What stroke of genius?! Is it thumping your noggin with a very large, half-full water bottle? No, no, silly rabbit. Could it be opening the windows to create a virtual tornado in your car? You know - blowing your face off and your ears in? No. No. What about plucking arbitrary hairs from your arm, that will induce owee-howling pain? Nyet. (Bugger knows how to spell it. I care.)

I just YELL really loudly. With the aforementioned windows open, radio on full volume and water bottle on standby. But just "HAAAWROAROAOOWOAAAAAAHLAAAL!!!!!" It kaks my head into the conscious. Then after about twenty seconds it wears off. So I have to do it again. "BOOOALALALALALALALALAYADDA _RAAAAAAAAAAAAAPOOO!" Then there's usually a bit of a backup in traffic which for some reason also brings me out of my driving coma. Balls. It sucks saggy crack sack. (Earlier tweet of mine to be credited here.)

But YAY for a temp solution. If you have anything better let me know. You should not include energy drinks here. I can't afford (in all senses of the word) five Red Bulls a week, as yummy as they may be. Nor those horrid Monster things. And I hate Play.

Onward-HO! (haha...aahaa...hahahahahaaa.)

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I hate it when I see old friends who are still awesome and fun and as wonderful as they’ve always been. I hate it, because I cannot for the life of me understand why I haven’t made more of an effort to see them. It means I’ve missed a lot too.

I should tell you, I was very lucky in high school – I had THEE best group of friends any recluse could dream up. An intelligent, strong and still girly group of girls, and a cool, fun and gentlemanly group of guys. There are obviously all the high school niggles thrown in there, but as people they were always amazing. And they still are. I know folks who had to deal with horrible bitches at school, or not really clicking with their peeps. It’s fine, ‘cause it’s gets you through it and then you can just quietly distance yourself. I know, unequivocally, that the people who I was close to in high school are still some of the most phenomenal people I know. Who I get along with like a house on fire. I haven’t seen a lot of them since we all went to our different Universities, and now new cities and new jobs. But when I see them now it’s like it hasn’t been a day. Which is a consolation. It’s a relief to know the lost time was more like a memory-lapse.

My Pretoria Pros and Cons list just got another positive tick. Happy Kimmeh!

Extremely hilarious (and offensive to some) joke

"I feel sorry for the McCanns. Maddy being The Stig was their last hope."

(Courtesy of Mr. Rob Forbes via twitter @RobForbesdj)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Eat, Pray, GET BENT.

There’s a lot of pointless shit in the world. And it exists because people buy into it. Or physically buy it. There’s a specific category of pointless shit that I’m sure makes millions. A lot of people think they need it, and they drink it up like the fountain of youth and knowledge. Yes, we’re entering self-help book territory. That area in the bookshop people like to pretend they’re not looking at. Pfft.

I despise self-help more than most people hate brussel sprouts. (I like brussel sprouts.) They are filled with brainwashing, sycophantic bullshit. Or brainwashing scolding techniques (and brussel sprouts aren’t.) They’ve fed into the idea that people need to fix aaaalll the shit they think is wrong in their lives, and that the answers to all those problems lie within the two hundred pages of drivel some shrink decided would change their lives. A bloody monkey could write that shit and you’d nod your head in agreement. (I have tested this theory on a friend. She said her shrink was a twat. I guessed what he’d said about her issues. Spot on. And I mean – verbatim.)

What’s worse than self-help books? This growing idea that self-help books are good movie material. As if self-help crap wasn’t bad enough. That shit should be burned. Like whichever Caesar burnt all pagan scripture. It is the debbil! All five of your copies of “I’m really insecure, make me feel better” are muddling up your brain and turning you into a potential patient at TARA. Go see a real shrink (as in PSYCHIATRIST) if you really need help. Jesus.

But re-scripting this stuff and turning it into a motion picture? The world has gone crazy people. It started with “He’s just not that into you”, which admittedly, was a cute movie. But I will categorically state that it was only cute because of its fab cast. The characters are a pathetic bunch of arseholes. And it’s the kind of book/movie that conveys the message that life’s not complete ‘til you find that someone special. And even though all the girls learn that ‘he’s just not that into you’, every single one of them has a man at the end of the flick. Oh, and don’t ask me how alike the book and movie are – I have no fucking idea.

Now, if I say the cast saved “He’s just not that into you”, this next one should be a bit of a conundrum. “Eat, Pray, Love” is the next sonofabitch. Their first conniving trick was to pay Julia Roberts mucho dinero to star in it. Hmmm. I loves me some Gggulia.

I have no issues with urging people to eat. Food is great. Chow down. Praying is another individual exercise a lot of people need to do so, each to their own. Love is also a relative term that is very different to various people. And what is that part anyway? “Love.” Gee okay! Unrequited still okay? “LOVE EVERYODY! LOVE IS ANSWER!” Crikey I’m waiting for bell-bottoms and flower-power to make a come-back. (Not that I mind. I quite dig hippie hairstyles.) Bottom line here – if it wasn’t such a self-righteous bunch of crap, I might respect it for what it is: a way to help people. But it’s not. It’s just another sad person who took measures to change her life, and decided the world needed to know how she did it, and they should all do it too or they’ll never be as happy as her. And what does that really do? To someone who doesn’t know better, it makes them feel shit about their lives. Even if they appear on Oprah, tears in their eyes, sobbing, with book in hand, about how much it saved them. And in the movie case, they probably walked into the cinema perfectly content with life. Again – never read the book. I never will. Don’t ask me to.

(I love Gggulia)

Self-help movies should only be available on the internet, or through Verimark ads. I wont crouch in on certain peoples’ needs to validate their existence or ‘polish’ up their job being a human being. Well, at least no more than I have. But bringing self-help into the cinema isn’t a simple matter of: “well, if you don’t wanna watch it, don’t buy a ticket!” It means that millions of people are still looking for ‘the answers to life’. ‘What’s the secret to living “right”?’ My issue with it is, that after all this time, do we still feel the need to be living in a way that gets all round approval? People don’t need to know your every action and movement. And if they do, and they find it odd… so what? Is everyone worried they’re going to be filmed on reality TV and have their nuances displayed to the world? Probably, the point is the world is fucked for why we’re here in the first place. Living life is complicated. This whole industry is probably tied up by all sorts of messed up reasons. Over-exposure to how other people live, past subjugations and inequalities and all sorts of societal exposures influence the way people feel about their lives. My point ultimately, is that unless the issues in your life are debilitating, it doesn’t really need fixing. Everyone’s dated an arsehole or five. Everyone has family issues. Everyone secretly likes porn. People have to ‘start over again’ every morning. Your shit is your shit, and you have people in your life to bang it out with. Some generalised guide of how to deal with your crap is not going to be the thing that helps you grow or makes you a better person. You probably already are ‘cause you went through it in the first place.

But mostly, I don’t need more crappy content added to the disappointing cinematic year, mkay? Even if it is Ggulia.

(This is Scolding Puppy. He's looking at you that way to let you know I'm serious. But he's a puppy, so you can't be mad at me. I'm fucking smart eh?)