Tuesday, April 19, 2022


 Dear Readers,

The Upmarket Tramp
          One morning a few weeks ago my wife and I were driving along a virtually deserted road in front of the Sun Valley Primary School in Cape Town when I saw a tramp rummaging through a municipal dustbin attached to a light pole on the other side of the road.

          He looked so forlorn and down and out that I said to my wife: “I must give him something.” I stopped and looked through my wallet only to find that the coins I had  were of such miserable denominations it would have been an insult to give them to him. So I thumbed through my notes and the smallest one was a R50. I handed it out of the window and beckoned to him.

          The guy, who looked white and was probably in his early twenties at a guess, crossed the road, took one look at the money and walked off without saying a word.

          Neither of us could possibly imagine what could have gone through his mind.

            How often would this take place even once in a million times or even in a trillion? This was my third experience of what you could only describe as being in the ‘it will never happen’ category.

The Bad Driver

          Beside the Long Beach Mall in Cape Town there is a narrow road that runs down to a circle at the back of it where there is a Stop Sign, but a lot of motorists just ignore this and drive straight on because there is not much traffic there most of the time. Adjoining the circle there is a large car park for people going to the Mall.

          On this occasion I drove round the circle and turned left to go towards the car park entrance. To do this I had to cross the end of the road where the Stop Sign is only on this occasion the car coming along it did not stop. I had the right of way but fortunately I was going very slowly so a collision was narrowly averted.

          I drove into the car park and as I got out of my vehicle the bad driver was getting out of his almost opposite mine. “It’s customary to stop at Stop Streets,” I told him. He glared at me but said nothing as we both walked away.

          A few minutes later when I walked into Food Lover’s Market in the Mall I saw him coming towards me. He apologised profusely for going through the Stop Street without stopping and said that he had been “quite wrong” to do this.

          I was so amazed by his response that I think I mumbled something like: “Well it’s good to hear you admit you were wrong and hopefully you won’t do it again.”

          That was my second experience of something that might only happen once in a million times, if at all.

Cycling Madness

          A few years ago just before the annual Cape Town Cycle Tour through the City the roads were full of would-be competitors getting in tune for the big occasion. I was driving my wife’s car as she was away in Johannesburg.

          I was in one of two lanes of traffic going along Ou Kaapse Weg about to turn right into Kommetjie road when suddenly these cyclists appeared with a complete disregard for their own safety in the narrow space between the two lines of vehicles. They obviously all belonged to the same club because they were dressed in identical colours.

          I hooted to warn them of the danger they were in and as one passed my car he slapped the windscreen with his hand. It shattered with an almighty bang. You can imagine the fright I got, but fortunately there was still enough clear glass to enable me to see where I was going.

          All the cyclists disappeared as if somebody had waved a magic wand while I drove to the nearby Police station knowing full well that reporting the incident would be a futile exercise. Bicycles don’t have number plates or any other distinctive marking yet they are allowed to be driven in among all the other traffic on our roads.

          I had no chance of being able to identify the cycling car clapper, who seemed to belong to a Club in the nearby Ocean View Coloured township, yet I felt I had to report what happened to the Police because it’s the kind of thing insurance companies insist on regardless of the likelihood of success.

          I had hardly got to our home nearby when I received a call from the Police station. The Officer told me they had a man there who wanted to speak to me. When he came on the line he told me he was an advocate who had some kind of official position in the cycling club to which the car slapper belonged. He had heard about what had happened and he asked me to withdraw my Police complaint as the Club would then deal with the matter. He took my home address and undertook to ensure that the windscreen was replaced at their cost.

          Within a few days Plate Glass came to our house and replaced it perfectly. It didn’t cost me a cent and when my wife returned from Johannesburg the car was once more in the same condition as she had left it in.

          How often would that happen anywhere let alone in South Africa? It was a million to one chance or perhaps there were even greater odds against it turning out so well for us.


          Jon, a Consumer Watchdog and self appointed Poor Man’s Press Ombudsman.     








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