Driving from an assignment the other day, I sat entranced as a colleague regaled us with tales of how the guys employed to repossess cars operate.
They will patiently call the defaulting owner and make appointments to pick up the vehicle. The crafty ones take artful dodging a notch up and give excuses of why they can't meet with the enforcers - being out of town is a popular refrain.
Somehow these sleuths always have an ace up their sleeve and pounce when you least expect them, at a highly inconvenient hour - like when you're out on a date.
Many a Romeo has been left without wheels and invariably jilted by a lover who suddenly remembers she has to get home in double-quick time.
If many of the car-less okes would have taken the trouble to sit with a financial planner, they'd have appreciated - away from the indignity of a public spectacle - the fact that their state of finances wasn't such that they could afford a car.
Many buy on a whim - either to satisfy the contemporary creed of three C's - car, cash, cellphone, or to make up for a physiological flaw. Why else do you think the ugliest guys drive the shiniest, sleekest, blackest German sedans?
I was reminded of this again when one garrulous guy at the office added his own tongue-in-cheek twist to the lingua franca of the repossession gang. "Will you bring it in," he says they will politely ask, "or do we have to come pick it up?"
This is a Hobson's choice of tsunami proportions for the non-paying driver!
Two days after this hilarity, Carl Niehaus was in the news. Now I don't see anyone pouncing on the former ANC spokesman and asking him to momentarily take leave of his juicy steak and expensive Sauvignon Blanc at an upmarket eatery like the Butcher's Grill to pick up the Porsche, the C-Class or the Jeep Cherokee.
But even if this were to happen, Niehaus must have grown a thick skin by now. Losing any of the wheels, should they be on the repossessor's list, is unlikely to traumatise him as much as it would our Adonis braggart losing his only car, an extension of his manhood.
Now an academic who teaches psychology at Wits says all he's read so far about Niehaus points to a troubled soul.
If all the bad things reported indeed did happen to him, acquiring wealth once outside jail was a sure way of compensating for his sad past.
Niehaus presents with all the signs of depression and the sodomy in prison, if it did happen, might have contributed to his bonkers state of mind.
I don't think there's any man who, once violated thus, wouldn't pursue reparations to feel good about themselves.
Things like financial problems, the break-up of a relationship, or the death of a loved one can bring on depression, says depression.com. You become depressed after radical changes in your life. The website, which mentions sexual abuse as a life-changing experience that can lead to depression concludes: "Many times, people who become depressed report that a single traumatic event happened just prior to their becoming depressed."
Now Niehaus has been spoken for but do you think the repossessors would care to enquire into our past, just in an attempt to ascertain why we drive cars we can't pay for?
Hardly, I surmise.