I must be jinxed. The past few weeks have been hell for me, and a public relations disaster for our public service - at least in my eyes.
I walk into my local municipal office and politely wait for the official, who is supposed to serve me, to finish her banter with a visitor. The conversation, it is quite clear, has nothing to do with her work.
Minutes later, I flash her my famous smile while I offer a greeting: "Môre ."
"Wat soek jy?" she scowls back at me.
I know exactly what I don't soek from her, but I keep my opinions to myself. After listening to my story she tells me I shouldn't have come to her and that I am lying about this and that.
I have no reason to lie, but I hold back. Inside, I want to kick her where no man should ever kick a lady. I hold back and throw her one last smile as I leave the office. Later that day I write to her superior. Months later, nothing has happened.
Incident two: I walk into the receiver of revenue's office a block away from Ms Meanie at the municipality. I am served by an extremely ladylike official who advises me to fill in the forms she gives me and return them to So and So. Days later I am standing in front of Ms So and So with the forms. She peers at me from above her spectacles. I grin a little.
She demands to know who had the nerve to send me to see her and she offers me some sisterly advice: "Whoever [told you to see me] will get you scolded ."
Wow, I think to myself, she must be the receiver herself (or his wife?). She's pregnant - maybe eight months, 29 days, which could explain her irritability.
More than a week later I am back at the receiver. I have been advised to see some fellow regarding my problem.
He shuffles out of the lift, huffing and puffing and demanding to know who wants to see him.
Halfway into my story, he too demands to know who referred me to him. I prattle on, but it is clear he is not listening. He is just angry that I have been referred to him.
Minutes later he's still not showing any interest in my problem. Instead, he suggests, I lied to some woman I spoke to on the phone earlier.
I could have liked this scruffy fellow, but he seems to have a magnified opinion of his importance. I decide to dislike him, and as I walk out of there, I pray I walk into him where I am not at his mercy.
Just days later, some cop, drunk out of his skull, crashes into the car in front of mine and much as my wife does her best to swerve out of harm's way, the cop also crashes into my car.
A cop car drives by and we think we are lucky. We wave it down and tell the cops our story.
They mumble into their radios and advise us to wait for the local cops to arrive. Two hours later we are still waiting . the drunken cop is sobering up. A helluva nice guy who made what could have been a fatal mistake, alright, but a drunk cop who crashed into my car all the same.
The cops advise us to go to the police station, which we do. On the way there, dronkie, who is getting a lift from me, is in tears begging that I don't follow up the matter because it might cost him his job.
Ag, shame. I like him. But I need some facts on record to use as leverage in our future dealings. So I ignore him and drive on to the cop shop.
It's now four hours after the crash and nobody has bothered to take our statements, let alone do a breath-alyser test on their colleague. Some overdecorated fellow behind the desk tells me the commander is out and he wants me to please understand that there is nothing they can do because the people who are supposed to attend to us have gone jolling in a cop car.
Just when I am about to give up, the gods send in an off-duty captain who approaches us and, on hearing our story, demands that we be sorted out on the spot.
A constable struggles for about an hour to take down our statement. He has a mean temper and the tendency to bark at everybody he talks to. I don't want to mess with him. I am grateful for the small mercy.
He still doesn't do a blood test on his now clearly sober colleague.
I retire disappointed in what I still think - believe it or not - is a greatly improved public service.